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Ascension of the Cybermen was the ninth and penultimate episode of series 12 of Doctor Who.


In a galaxy still dealing with the aftermath of the deadly Cyber-Wars, the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions are separated both from each other and from the TARDIS. Banding together with the last dredges of humanity, they must all attempt to find Ko Sharmus and the Boundary before Ashad, or any other remaining Cyberman forces, can locate them. And who is Brendan, the abandoned baby?


Over a scene of deep space filled with debris, the voice of Ashad narrates that the Cybermen have been defeated after winning a billion battles. After bringing terror to the universe, their empire has finally fallen. As a lone Cyber-head floats closer, he adds how "that which is dead can live again... in the hands of a believer."

In mid-twentieth century Ireland, a man called Patrick finds a baby in a basket abandoned in the middle of the road. He brings him home to his wife Meg where they report him to the local Garda police. Meg states that they will look after him until his parents are found. A year passes, and when the baby is not claimed, the couple adopts him and names him Brendan. Time goes on and he grows up, starting his first day of school and eventually learning to become a farmer. Aged around 8, he falls ill, and Meg tells him if it gets worse, she will call the doctor.

In deep space of the far future, the Thirteenth Doctor brings Graham, Yaz, and Ryan to a refugee planet, having followed the coordinates they previously got from Percy Shelley. However, they have landed half a mile out, forcing them to carry equipment to the last remaining human settlement. The Doctor explains the majority of the species has been wiped out by the Cybermen, but the enemies are weak too. The group goes to find the final seven surviving humans.

In the settlement, a middle-aged man called Feekat discusses repairs of their Gravraft with a woman called Ravio. She explains they will take at least another day, but two cyber spaceships arrive overhead, startling a teenage boy called Ethan. The Doctor offers her help and the group set up their equipment. As Feekat explains that they have only run from the Cybermen before and their escape ship is botched, the Doctor tells him to get the others inside and not run.

As the Doctor's friends set up their tech, Graham creates a neural inhibitor system to return emotion and pain to the Cybermen, Yaz makes a particle projector that will attack them with gold, and Ryan is met by a man called Yedlarmi and his mute younger brother Fuskle to set up a forcefield. With the other humans (including a young woman called Bescot and another older woman) never having been fighters, the gizmos are powered up. However, a swarm of flying Cyberdrone heads appears, destroys the equipment with precision, and kills Fuskle and the older woman as they try to run.

As the drones leave, the Doctor commands the others to get to their ship and leave, including her friends, as they can not get back to the TARDIS in time, while she holds them off. Suddenly, Ashad appears to the Doctor. Although shocked by her, he has backup from two Cyberguards. The Doctor decides to act as bait to help the others escape. As her friends run, Ryan is cut off from them, but Graham and Yaz run to Ravio, Bescot, and Yedlarmi's Gravraft. They are forced inside for takeoff, even though they are missing the Doctor, Ryan, Feekat, and Ethan. Yedlarmi assumes they are all dead and they take off.

Meanwhile, the Doctor takes cover and stumbles upon Ryan and the others. As she prepares a grenade, Ashad arrives and tells them to surrender. Ethan is confronted by Ashad and tells him that he is the only remaining human, but Ashad knows he is lying and kills Feekat. Ashad wonders whether to let Ethan live so he can warn any others of the Cybermen's power, but the Doctor creates a diversion and they run. Without the TARDIS or the Gravraft, they go to steal Ashad's Cyberfighter instead. Inside the ship, the Doctor works on hot-wiring it, already being a pro. However, Ethan identifies a faster way and the ship starts up. Taking off, Ashad looks up, furious.

In Ireland in the past, Brendan grows up and, as a young man, attempts to join the Gardaí. He is met by the sergeant who met him as a baby, who welcomes him into the force.

The remaining refugees with Yaz and Graham fly through space. Although Ravio and Yedlarmi argue about how to run the ship, Bescot explains they are heading toward the planet Ko Sharmus and a phenomenon called "the Boundary" which teleports anyone who finds it to random locations in the universe. However, by pushing the ship too hard, its ailing engine explodes.

On the Cyberfighter, Ethan also sets a course for Ko Sharmus, planning on getting there first. Ethan explains one of the first things he was ever taught in life was how to hijack and destroy cyber-ships. As they talk, a hologram of Ashad appears and he and the Doctor talk. Ashad explains that the Cyberium knows of her, but he will stop her and destroy humanity. She points out his internal conflict of hating who he used to be and not being a perfect Cyberman, but he agrees and points out he is ready to carry the death of everything inside him. As he leaves, the Doctor is left shaken.

In Ireland, Brendan chases a thief called Michael near a cliff, but he has a revolver pulled on him. Despite urging him not to, Michael shoots him in the chest and Brendan falls off the cliff. As his sergeant runs along the beach, however, Brendan wakes up and is somehow unharmed. Later, he simply explains he was lucky, with his injuries mysteriously missing, and he receives a commendation for his great work.

Inside the Gravraft, everyone survives, but they are still floating in space and running on emergency power. Looking out of a viewpoint, Yaz realises they are floating aimlessly through a battle site, complete with dormant ships. Graham notices a docking bay on one of them, and the two give the refugees a plan to channel their remaining life support energy to accelerate onto the ship. With nothing to lose, they try it and barely make it onto the ship alive, with their arrival making its systems start working again. However, as they look around the enormous interior, another Cyberfighter arrives nearby, carrying Ashad and his guards, ready to hunt the humans down.

The Doctor's Cyberfighter reaches what they think is the planet of Ko Sharmus, with the Doctor broadcasting to the run-down, temporary settlement. However, Ko Sharmus turns out to be one lone elderly man. The Doctor parks up, happy to see a friendly face.

Meanwhile, Graham, Yaz, Ravio, Yedlarmi, and Bescot explore the ship, and Yaz makes it clear how proud she is of Graham's work. Yedlarmi explains they must be nearing CyberControl, making the others realise they have landed on a Cyberman war carrier. Finding the control deck, the refugees plan to reach Ko Sharmus with it, cross the Boundary, and settle in the carrier until they find a habitable planet. Graham and Ravio decide to continue exploring the ship.

Reaching level 139, the ship starts moving and Ravio finally begins to feel some optimism and starts to warm to Graham. The pair come to a series of vertical pods and Graham kicks one open, only to be met by a dormant Cyberman of a new and battle-ready design. Graham belatedly realises there must be around a thousand of these Cybermen in this room alone, ten rooms on each floor, and several hundred floors to the ship, numbering the Cybermen in their millions. Meanwhile, in the docking bay, Ashad and his Cyberguards arrive, driven by the Cyberium.

The Doctor, Ryan, and Ethan finally meet Ko Sharmus who is stunned to see living humans. He explains how he and a handful of others fled the Cybercamps and escaped to the planet. As the word spread, many others arrived, whom he helped through the Boundary while he waited behind for other survivors.

Meanwhile, at CyberControl, Yaz, Yedlarmi, and Bescot hear a siren, alerting them that they have been boarded, and they contact Graham and Ravio to get them back immediately. The duo barely escape Ashad and reach the others as Ashad looks in awe at the Cybermen ready for him. Ravio warns the others that they must not bring Cybermen to the Boundary, but they have no other choice. Yaz tries to convince the others how the Doctor will be waiting for them. In the carrier, Ashad awakens one of the advanced Cybermen and attacks it with his guards, causing it to scream, deeply unnerving the humans who are watching via security cameras.

Elsewhere, Ko Sharmus shows the Boundary to the Doctor, Ryan, and Ethan, which appears as a rippling purple sheet of energy. The Doctor has no idea how it works but is willing to risk it.

In Ireland, Brendan, now in his 60s, retires and is gifted a clock for his decades of service. However, as he leaves the station, his father and sergeant, who do not appear to have aged, lead him back in. In a backroom, they strap him to a chair and attach some electronic equipment to his hands and head. When they turn it on, energy arcs around it and Brendan screams as his memory is wiped.

Ravio flies the cyber-ship towards Ko Sharmus' planet as the Cyber-Warriors wake up and salute Ashad, ready for their ascension. He calls the group to say he knows they are there, and Yaz is able to contact the Doctor, explaining the situation. As the Cybermen reach their last door, the Doctor urges her friends to evacuate, but they are trapped. Then, the Boundary unexpectedly clears, and Ko Sharmus is stunned as the Doctor sees the capital city of Gallifrey on the other side. Suddenly, the Spy Master leaps through the Boundary, impressed with his entrance, and tells the Doctor to be afraid, as "everything is about to change. Forever."



to be added



The Doctor[]


Food and beverages[]


  • A Fincham Supply Co. is located in Ireland
  • Garda is the local police force of Ireland.


  • Ravio points a gun at Team TARDIS.
  • The Doctor has given Graham a neural inhibitor system, which ought to act against a Cyberman's emotional inhibitor.
  • The Doctor has given Yaz a particle projector, which should project gold particles into the air, as an affront to the Cybermen.
  • The Doctor has given Ryan a rudimentary force field device, to shield the area when the Cybermen arrive.
  • Team TARDIS and the refugee group are attacked by Cyberdrones.
  • The Doctor uses a special grenade against Ashad.
  • The Doctor says Cyber warp tech is not designed for humans.
  • The Doctor tells Ashad, over a hologram, that the Cyberium AI knows how she has defeated the Cybermen time and time again.
  • Ashad and one of his Cyberguards hacks into the Cyberiad, the hive mind of all Cybermen.
  • An officer presents an old Brendan with a carriage clock for his services in the police force.
  • Patrick and the Sergeant, both unaged, lead Brendan into the Garda's backroom to hook him to a memory-erasure machine.



  • Yedlarmi is called Eeyore by Graham.

Story notes[]


  • 3.71 million (BBC overnight)[1]
  • 4.99 million (BBC overall)[2]

Filming locations[]

  • Blaen Glyn Farm, Libanus, Brecon - Ireland farmhouse and lanes
  • St Athan Boys' Village, West Aberthaw, Barry - human settlement
  • Nash Point, Marcross, Llanwit Major - shanty town and Irish cliff
  • Taffs Well Quarry, Morganstown, Cardiff - space outpost
  • Aberthaw Power Station - Cybercarrier corridors
  • Mamhilad Park Estate, Pontypool - Cybercarrier
  • St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff - Ireland
  • Oakdale Workmen's Institute, St Fagans, Cardiff - police station
  • Western Mail, Cardiff - Cyberfighters

(All DWM 570 supplement)

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

to be added


Home video releases[]

DVD and Blu-ray releases[]

  • This story was released as part of the Complete Twelfth Series boxset on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1/A on 9 June 2020, in region 2/B on 4 May 2020 and in region 4/B on 3 June 2020.

Digital releases[]

  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer.

External links[]