audio stub

Return of the Cybermen was the first release in the sixth series of The Lost Stories. It was based on the original drafts of the TV story Revenge of the Cybermen originally written by Gerry Davis, the scripts were adapted by John Dorney and featured Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Sadie Miller as Sarah Jane Smith and Christopher Naylor as Harry Sullivan.

Dorney claimed that the story "fits with the TV continuity and makes a sidestep at the same time", in the sense that one can swap out Revenge and listen to Return in its place while keeping the continuity of the surrounding series intact. (VOR 144) An additional ending scene originally sought to fully reconcile the two versions in-universe but it was ultimately cut from the final work.

Publisher's summary[]

The Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan return to Space Station Nerva in search of the TARDIS. Instead, they find peril, disease and... Cybermen!

These cybernetic monsters have devised a plan to eliminate the greatest threat to their existence. And if the Doctor and his human compatriots do not play their part in this scheme, they are to be destroyed.


Part one[]

to be added

Part two[]

to be added

Part three[]

to be added

Part four[]

to be added




The Cybermen[]

  • The Doctor states that Cybermen are logical. The best way to survive Cybermen is to be useful to them, so that they keep you alive for longer. When a person's usefulness is over, the Cybermen will simply destroy them.
  • Upon discovering a body, the Doctor tells Harry that it wasn't a Cybermen as they do not simply murder for gain.
  • The Cybermen do not understand the word "insane".
  • The Cybermen do not understand "pacts" or "giving your word", claiming them to be merely humanoid constructs.


  • The Doctor claims he is good friends with Rudolf Nureyev.


  • Gold dust can coat the lungs of cybermats, killing them.
  • The Cyberleader says there is little gold left in the universe.


Alternative Cover Art

Deviations from Revenge of the Cybermen[]

  • The single most significant change between the two stories is the complete excision of Voga, the Vogans and the civil war subplot of Revenge. Voga is replaced with a gold-rich asteroid, the Vogans by a lost tribe of colonists who inhabit the asteroid. The tribe plays a far smaller role than the Vogans do in Revenge. Much of the action resultantly takes place aboard Nerva Beacon.
  • While the basic plot line aboard Nerva is largely similar to Revenge, the Cybermen intend to launch the Beacon at the asteroid straight away, rather than attempt the Cyber-bomb strategy first. The Cyber-ship plays no part in the story, with the Cybermen already having infiltrated Nerva and hidden themselves onboard, as volunteers on a kamikaze mission.
  • No references are made to the Cyber-Wars, although the Cybermen are still thought to have died out long ago and consider gold a threat.
  • The Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive on Nerva in the mess hall and begin eating the food. Kellman tries to have them quickly eliminated in a crusher trap.
  • Anitra is added to the Nerva crew. Previously, Sarah was the only female character in the story. In Return, she is joined by Anitra and Coetzee.
  • Lester and Warner are given first names, Bill and Jim respectively.
  • Commander Stevenson is played as a gruffer, hardened character. Nicholas Asbury claimed this was because he interpreted the dialogue in the script in this way, in contrast to Ronald Leigh-Hunt's more traditional "clipped and RP" portrayal of the character in 1975. (BFX: Return of the Cybermen)
  • The Cybermat infection blackens the victim's veins, similar to The Moonbase, rather than emitting the red glow seen in Revenge. The infection lines were previously described as black in the novelisation however.
  • Noticing familiarities in the mystery of Nerva, the Doctor frequently consults his Five Hundred Year Diary.
  • The first Cybermen to confront the Doctor and the crew are fought off with radiation from an X-ray machine, calling back to The Tenth Planet. By showing themselves able to resist the Cybermen, the Doctor argues the crew have gained some bargaining power.
  • The Doctor claims Cyber-Leaders are "larger" than standard Cybermen.
  • Kellman's actions and motives are consistently more self-centred and villainous. In Revenge, he is in league with the Vogans, whereas in Return, he is taking advantage of the lost colonists out of greed. He is killed deliberately by Coetzee rather than accidentally by Harry.
  • Harry, Sarah, Stevenson and Lester do not leave Nerva during the story. Sarah is cured from her infection by the Cyberman antidote instead of the transmat. Lester is injured by the Cyber-Leader rather than blown up by a bomb and survives the story.
  • The Doctor, Sarah and Harry depart in the TARDIS before the Doctor announces the Brigadier has tried to contact them. This is also where John Dorney's original ending would have occurred had it been included (see below).

Original ending[]

The story tells a different version of the events of Revenge of the Cybermen, but contains no in-universe attempt to reconcile the conflicting accounts. John Dorney had originally factored this into his original adaptation of the script, although it was ultimately not recorded.

The scene in question saw the reappearance of the Time Lord messenger from Genesis of the Daleks, explaining that the failure of the Doctor's mission on Skaro had caused history, and the Doctor's own timeline, to rewrite itself as a result of the fallout of the Last Great Time War. While offering an explanation for how Return could coincide with Revenge, it also brought up other continuity issues, including:

The Time Lord would have then vanished as he insinuates that the Doctor's actions have caused a Time War (though the word "war" is cut off). The Doctor and company then experience further timeline distortion as the Return timeline "become[s] redundant". When the distortion settles, the trio arrive back on Nerva Beacon, where the final lines of dialogue delivered by Sarah and the Doctor quite literally echo their opening lines from Revenge:

  • SARAH: (ECHO) Thank heavens for that! We've made it. Haven't we?
  • DOCTOR: (ECHO) Of course we've made it. Did you think we wouldn't?

The end of Return therefore would have led directly into the start of Revenge, with the events of the latter, as in the real world, essentially overwriting the former, but still allowing both versions to exist within the same continuity.

Although the scene was not included in the final product, being deemed "too silly", Dorney nevertheless shared the pages on Twitter on 24 October 2020, the day after Big Finish first revealed the cover and cast.[1]

Some similar ideas were present in A Device of Death, a novel in the Virgin Missing Adventures, which takes place between Genesis and Revenge. It established that the fallout from Genesis resulted in changes to the timeline which were closely observed by the Time Lords, who follow up the Doctor in an attempt to make the best of his mission's shortcomings. The novel's focus on this aspect is primarily limited to the immediate effects on Dalek history; Return would have expanded this to draw attention to the wider consequences.

The scene can still be read as a coda to the audio release, much in the style of Wish You Were Here, the short script release bridging the gap between the two adventure game instalments Blood of the Cybermen and TARDIS. Unlike that example, however, the ending of Return was not released in an official capacity and so it falls outside the scope of what is considered a valid source by this wiki.

A fan recreation of the ending was also created with John Dorney's blessing,[2] but as this was not an officially sanctioned or licensed creation, it also falls outwith the scope of this wiki.


External links[]