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Rise of the Cybermen was the fifth episode of the second series of the 2005 revival series of Doctor Who.

It was the first part of a two-part story. Discounting the inactive helmet that appeared in Dalek, this episode served as the formal reintroduction of the Cybermen to the main series, having last appeared in Silver Nemesis in 1989, with these Cybermen sporting a revamped design originating from an alternate universe. The story also featured the first televised appearance of a parallel Earth that would recur through series 2 and 4. Tardisode 5 served as the episode's prologue, hinting toward the return of the Cybermen, with additional allusions to the presence of a resistance called the Preachers combating the Cyber-threat.

Head writer Russell T Davies decided that it made "little sense", that when a cyborg foe would inevitably encounter the Doctor, for the writers to invent an entirely new cyborg race when the Cybermen were already an "established success". Nonetheless, Davies, who was aware of the Cybermen that originated in the Doctor's universe gaining a complicated backstory over prior televised serials, decided against building on said backstory. Instead, he chose to include their creation in a parallel universe. Davies felt that the "original 1960s fears" of organ replacement weren't as relevant for the 21st century. He instead wanted to focus on the fact that the upgrade of a human into a Cyberman granted people immortality at the cost of making them "uniform and emotionless". (DWMSE 14)

The story was inspired by Marc Platt's 2002 audio play Spare Parts. Davies decided he wanted the two-parter Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel to be loosely adapted from the Big Finish play, with a similar "feel", just as series 1's Dalek was adapted from Jubilee. Platt was paid a fee for Tom MacRae reusing the basic concepts of Parts and was given a credit for both Rise and Steel. Initial drafts of the parallel Earth story were very close to Mondas' depiction in Spare Parts as a "dying world". (DWMSE 14)

Along with inspiration from Spare Parts, writer Tom MacRae was supplied the television serials The Tenth Planet, The Tomb of the Cybermen, Earthshock, the DWM comic story The Flood and David Banks' Doctor Who: Cybermen. Director Graeme Harper also read Banks' book in preparation for this two-parter, along with the surviving episodes of The Invasion, which Harper's mentor Douglas Camfield directed. (DWMSE 14)

MacRae hoped to reimagine the Cybermen not so much as "mere villains", but as "sad" figures which he thought could be made "terrifying" through the notion of victims being upgraded into Cybermen rather than being killed; as such they were "a cross between vampires and zombies". (DWMSE 14) MacRae also felt that his desire to make the Cybermen more human and distanced from being "straightforward monstrous villains" would have made the species scarier. After being offered the job of "reviving and updating" the Cybermen as the episode's writer, MacRae wanted the Cyberman's backstory to be faithful to the backstory and concept of the original Cybermen from the Doctor's Earth and also that they couldn't be interchangeable with any other mechanical being. (TEDW 1)

Rise of the Cybermen aired during the fortieth anniversary of The Tenth Planet, the story that introduced the original Cybermen. It marked the first time a director involved in the 1963-89 series had directed a revival-era episode, and, as of 2021, Graeme Harper remains the only director to do so.


Upon landing on an alternate version of the Earth, the Doctor, Rose and Mickey learn that Peter Tyler is apparently alive and well. Lurking in the shadows are creatures made to destroy - one of the Doctor's greatest fears have come true... the Cybermen are reborn.


In a laboratory, Dr Kendrick examines a humanoid metal form and declares, "It's alive". His wheelchair-user boss, John Lumic, expresses his pride in this achievement, but Dr Kendrick warns him that they must tell the authorities in Geneva about their new development, as this is a new form of life. Lumic informs Kendrick that Geneva will shut down the experiment, but Kendrick still wishes to inform Geneva. Lumic tells the prototype to kill Kendrick, which it does via electrocution. He then tells his staff to set sail for Great Britain.

In the TARDIS, Rose and the Tenth Doctor are laughing about a prior adventure when the Doctor notices that Mickey is holding a control. The Doctor says he can let go now, and Mickey, annoyed at having been forgotten, does so. Suddenly, there is an explosion and the TARDIS crashes. The entire console room suffers a blackout and all its mechanisms shut down. Gas masks drop down from the ceiling, triggered by the possibility the artificial atmospheric generators have failed.

Arrival in Pete's World

The TARDIS lands in a different world.

While the trio recovers from the nasty landing, the Doctor dreads to believe what has happened. The TARDIS has fallen out of the Time Vortex. Worse, he declares the TARDIS is dead. If it has perished, it cannot be fixed, and as the only TARDIS in existence, the TARDIS species is extinct. Rose asks where they've landed, thinking it has to be somewhere. The Doctor tells Rose they've crashed in the Void, beyond the universe from which the TARDIS draws energy. Mickey peeks outside the door and remarks "Otherwise known as London". At first, it appears they are in their own London until the Doctor notices that there are Zeppelins in the sky. Mickey quickly deduces that they must be in a parallel universe, where things are almost but not quite similar to their universe. Rose quickly identifies one difference to hers; according to a nearby advertisement, her father Pete is alive and a very successful businessman, marketing a health drink called Vitex.

Meanwhile, in his mansion, Peter Tyler is overseeing preparations or Jackie's birthday party that night when John Lumic calls him using EarPods that he is wearing. Pete thanks Lumic for the birthday present he had sent Jackie, a diamond studded set of EarPods: the latest model. Lumic tells Peter that his plans have advanced and that he is to meet him that evening for a meeting with the President. After the phone call, Lumic uses the EarPods Jackie is wearing to gain security information for her birthday party, with Jackie none the wiser. He then calls his associate, Mr Crane, telling him he needs "extra staff" for his plans.

Crane parks a lorry up near where a group of homeless people are living, telling them that he has food for them in the back of the truck. Jake Simmonds witnesses this and tries to stop one man from going into the lorry, reminding him about all the recent disappearances, but to no avail. As the lorry door shuts and Crane drives away, the man's cries for help can be heard.

Hope is kindled

The Doctor finds the last remnant of the TARDIS.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has found a small part of the TARDIS which is still alive, and he gives 10 years of his life to help his ship regenerate, since the energy from the parallel universe won't do. Since this will take around 24 hours, he reluctantly agrees to let his companions explore the parallel Earth. Rose tells him about how her phone automatically connected to the Cybus Network and how she looked up the parallel version of her parents, discovering that she doesn't have her own counterpart as the pair never had kids. She insists she wants to see her 'father' and runs off to do so, the Doctor following.

The Doctor and Rose witness download

The Doctor and Rose witness the "Daily Download".

After he catches up to her, the Doctor and Rose discuss Mickey, Rose telling the Doctor about how he was raised by his grandmother after being abandoned by his parents, but she died a few years ago after tripping on a piece of stair carpet Mickey forgot to fix and falling down the stairs. As the two realise that they take Mickey for granted, they witness a crowd pause as the EarPods they all wear download information directly into their brains. This advanced technology piques the Doctor's interest and he uses Rose's phone to discover that the EarPods are manufactured by Cybus Industries, who also own Pete's company, Vitex. The Doctor reluctantly agrees to attend Jackie's birthday party since the President and many other high profile guests will be there and he may be able to find out more about the Pods.

Mickey hugs gran

Mickey visits his gran's parallel counterpart.

Elsewhere, Mickey is exploring the parallel London on his own, and learns of a curfew from a soldier at a checkpoint. Arriving on Waterton Street, approaches Number 1 and knocks on the door. Immediately, a woman's voice calls out angrily and the door opens to reveal Rita-Anne Smith, his blind grandmother, who is still alive in this universe. Mickey is unable to speak at first, while Rita-Anne rants angrily that she will not be kidnapped like the other people, but manages to stammer out a few words that silences Rita-Anne. She is delighted to receive a visit from her grandson, whom she calls Ricky, but then starts slapping him for apparently taking off and leaving her not knowing anything. Mickey notices the carpet on the stairs behind her, the one he was supposed to fix in his own universe, and tearfully remarks that she'll fall and break her neck if it isn't fixed, calling himself "useless" for not doing it sooner. Rita-Anne chides him for talking that way and invites him in for a nice cup of tea to settle down, but Mickey is then suddenly abducted from Rita's doorstep by two people in a blue van, Jake and Mrs Moore. In the van, they chastise Mickey for putting his gran in danger by visiting her, thinking him to be his parallel counterpart.

In his Zeppelin, Lumic's meeting with the President is underway, and he announces his newest project: putting the human brain inside a metal exoskeleton - the "ultimate upgrade". The President is righteously disgusted and refuses to give Lumic permission to carry out his plans. He leaves the meeting, promising Pete to see him at Jackie's party later. Once they have gone, Lumic calls Crane, who is now controlling the people he had kidnapped via the EarPods. Lumic tells him to "start the upgrade" and Crane has the people march into the conversion chambers, drowning out their agonising screams of pain with music.

Rose and pete fancy

Rose and another version of her father.

Later, at the Tyler Mansion, the Doctor and Rose infiltrate the party disguised as catering staff and try to gain information. Rose is annoyed at posing as a waitress, but the Doctor remarks that the staff will know everything and be more forthcoming and unobtrusive than guests. This pays off when Lucy, one of the other waitresses, points out the President of Great Britain to the Doctor. Rose, meanwhile, is saddened when she finds from Pete that he and Jackie's marriage is on the rocks. She starts a friendly conversation with Jackie, but when she remarks that Pete is worth another try, Jackie angrily dismisses her as "just the staff".

Mickey and the Preachers

Mickey encounters his parallel counterpart.

Meanwhile, Jake and Mrs Moore have taken Mickey to their secret base, only to find Ricky already there, leading them to restrain and interrogate Mickey. They tell him that they are the "Preachers", a team who have been investigating Cybus Industries with the help of an inside agent. Their contact has just advised that a group of "upgrades" is leaving the Cybus factory. The resistance head off to tail the Cybus truck, taking Mickey with them.

Meanwhile, the Doctor infiltrates Pete's office and peruses the Cybus Industries files, trying to learn something. The name "Cybus" and the emphasis on cybernetics and brains clicks in his mind and he realises something with horror. At that moment, Lumic's "upgrades" arrive, and the Doctor recognises them as a new form of "Cybermen". Right as he does so, one of the great plate-glass windows shatters as a Cyberman puts its fist through it. More Cybermen flood into the house, herding the guests and staff together into one room as Lumic contacts the President over his EarPods. The President seems unsurprised at the development but demands to know who the Cybermen were before Lumic did this to them. Lumic states they were homeless people that he has granted new life to, and signs off, leaving the Cybermen in charge.

One Cyberman steps forward and announces that they have been "upgraded" into the next level of humanity, promising the same for all British citizens. The President sincerely apologises for what has happened to them, with several of the guests looking saddened as well, and declares that he will not allow Lumic's experiment to continue. The Cybermen remark that upgrading is compulsory, and the President repeatedly asks what happens if he refuses despite the Doctor's warnings, to which the Cybermen respond that he will be deemed incompatible and then deleted. The one who spoke then grabs the President by the neck and blue electricity, the same as killed Dr. Kendrick, flares from its hand and around his head as he sinks to the floor, dead. The guests and staff panic at the murder and scatter in all directions as the Cybermen begin killing them.

Doctor Rose surrounded

The Doctor attempts to surrender to the Cybermen.

Rose, the Doctor and Pete manage to get outside, where they meet up with Mickey and the Preachers, but Ricky and Jake's guns are useless against the Cybermen, who surround them. The Doctor tries to surrender, claiming he volunteers for the upgrade, but the Cybermen refuse; as "rogue elements", they are to "perish under maximum deletion".


Uncredited cast[]


General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.



  • The destruction of the Time Lords made it near-impossible to cross between universes.



  • Mrs Moore suggests that Ricky's father could have had a "bike".


  • Jackie's EarPods can pick up signals from Venezuela.
  • Mrs Moore suggests that Cybus Industries could have perfected human cloning.
  • Cynaps is part of the conversion process.
  • The Daily Download is a news service.

Foods and beverages[]

Pete's world[]


Story notes[]

  • Early reports erroneously gave the title of this story as Rise of the Cyberman. Parallel was also considered.
  • This is the first episode of the 2005 version of Doctor Who to be directed by Graeme Harper, the only director of the 1963 version of the show to direct for the revival.
  • This is the first episode in which the Doctor breaks tradition of wearing white plimsolls with his brown suit, red plimsolls with his blue suit and black plimsolls with his black suit by wearing black ones with his brown suit. This occurs again later in The Impossible Planet, Love & Monsters and Fear Her in which he wears the same combination as in this episode.
  • According to Russell T Davies, the fact that Jackie has her 40th birthday in this episode was a deliberate, if obscure, reference to the fact that Rise of the Cybermen occurred in the 40th anniversary year of The Tenth Planet. (DOC: Doctor Who at the BBC: The Tenth Doctor)
  • This could be considered the first regular television story to not feature any extraterrestrial elements other than the Doctor and the TARDIS since Black Orchid, depending on how one defines "extraterrestrial". Warriors of the Deep and The Girl in the Fireplace both featured scenes in space, but contained nothing of non-Earthly origin. Additionally, Radio Times places Paradise Towers on Earth, however, the story itself, while never definitively stating either way, strongly implies otherwise.
  • On a somewhat trivial note, this story reintroduces the Cybermen's iconic teardrop motif after a 31-year absence. This aspect of their design had last appeared in 1975's TV: Revenge of the Cybermen, having been present on their faces since 1968's TV: The Wheel in Space; all Cyberman appearances from 1982's TV: Earthshock to 1988's TV: Silver Nemesis featured the Cybermen sporting their original circular eye-holes. The teardrop motif would reappear in all future Cyberman designs as of Series 12, bar the recreated Mondasian Cybermen and their prototypes from Series 10.
  • Early drafts of this story featured "Body Shops", where wealthy people would purchase new cybernetic limbs. Russell T Davies vetoed this element because he found it unbelievable. He also instructed Tom MacRae to tone down the differences between the parallel universe versions of characters and their "real" universe counterparts. "I think it was one of those great lessons about the freedom of SF, as well as its greatest dangers, because when you're creating a parallel world, you suddenly get excited by saying everyone can wear eye patches".
  • According to Graeme Harper on the episode commentary, the pre-credits sequence was written by Russell T Davies, as he was not satisfied with the original opening, which spanned the TARDIS scene through to Rose finding the Vitex advertisement. He wanted to hint at the nature of the reimagined Cybermen earlier.
  • Mickey sports a large tattoo on his right bicep; according to Noel Clarke's commentary, the tattoo was make-up applied for the episode.
  • The Art Deco look of the 2006 Cybermen design follows that from Real Time. According to the episode commentary, Graeme Harper wanted an Art Deco feel to the parallel universe Earth. Art Deco costumes had previously been used for the K1 Robot in Robot and for much of the cast (including robots) in The Robots of Death.
  • Unlike the two-part stories from the 2005 series, this episode featured no "Next time" trailer for the next episode — only a title card reading "To be continued...", the first time the phrase has ever been used to end an episode in the programme's history. The production team had stated previously that one episode in this series was so long that there was no time for a preview. Many viewers, and Steven Moffat, had criticised the use of a preview for World War Three, as it spoiled the dramatic cliffhanger ending. Beginning with The Impossible Planet, trailers for the second part of stories were run during the middle eight, after the main credits, to allow viewers time to switch off.
  • Roger Lloyd-Pack and David Tennant previously worked together in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, playing father and son, Barty Crouch Sr. and Barty Crouch Jr. respectively.
  • Roger Lloyd-Pack told The Daily Mirror that he based the character of Lumic on Donald Rumsfeld: "I thought, 'Who is a power-hungry mad person who believes he is completely right and has a lot of control?' Donald Rumsfeld came to mind. He's as bad a man as I see around now."
  • An additional Preacher was Esme, a hard-bitten former Green Beret. This character survived to the audition stage; one of the actresses who read for the part was Freema Agyeman. However, Esme was dropped when it was felt that her presence made the Preachers seem too capable, as opposed to a group of well-intentioned amateurs who were out of their depth.
  • John Lumic was originally a young businessman named Jacob Lumic, who had replaced some of his body parts with cybernetic attachments as part of his quest to save humanity from a deadly disease. With the global pandemic eliminated due to the altered conception of the Cybermen, Lumic's new motivation was to cure his dying father. Finally, the son's role was essentially taken over by Mr Crane.
  • Originally, the time rotor of the TARDIS was shattered at the start of the story, an effect ruled out on the grounds of cost.
  • Initial drafts of the two-parter imagined the EarPods as temple implants. This was later scrapped as the plot required devices that could be removed. Additionally, concerns were raised about the similarities with the Stargate SG-1 episode "Revisions", which had broadcast three years prior. Russell T Davies explained on Doctor Who Confidential that the idea of the EarPods was inspired by how common Bluetooth earpieces were at the time.
  • Tom MacRae initially hewed fairly closely to Spare Parts by setting his serial on a dying Earth, where the Cybermen came into existence when efforts to save humanity from a terrible plague were taken to extreme lengths. However, Russell T Davies was concerned that this approach was effectively still rooted in mid-1960s anxiety about body part replacement , the paranoia which had originally inspired the Cybermen, but was now outdated.
  • Tom MacRae envisaged the counterparts of Mickey, Jackie and Pete as diverging far more from their familiar portrayals, but Russell T Davies encouraged him to scale this back.
  • Pete's codename was originally “Puck”, in reference to A Midsummer Night's Dream. It then became “Janus”, after the two-faced god of beginnings and endings in Roman mythology. His eventual sobriquet, “Gemini”, was the Latin word for “twins”, most commonly used in reference to the Greco-Roman gods Castor and Pollux.
  • Although some thought was given to keeping the Cybermen's traditional chest unit, Tom MacRae suggested replacing it with a stylised Cybus Industries logo.
  • As design drawings were developed for the new Cybermen, Russell T Davies was particularly adamant that they should eschew the “silver giant” label often applied to the monsters in the past; viewing silver as a flimsy material, he preferred to think of the Cybermen as made of steel. On the other hand, he was eager to retain certain elements from previous Cyberman designs, particularly the handlebar ears and the teardrop eyes.
  • Shortly before filming began, Roger Lloyd Pack broke his ankle in a fall down a flight of stairs. Fortunately, the Lumic role had already been scripted as being entirely wheelchair-bound, meaning that Lloyd Pack's injury would not interfere with his performance.
  • While filming in London, Graeme Harper discovered some unused helicopter footage of the city which had been recorded for Aliens of London/World War Three, meaning that he could save the expense of another flyover
  • Filming the Thames sequences was delayed by rain.
  • The scene of Jake filming Mr. Crane abducting homeless people had a cut portion where Mr. Crane spots Jake, walks up to him, and threatens him.


  • 9.22 million (BARB official; UK final)[2]


  • According to The Sun, Roger Lloyd Pack broke his leg just days before filming began on the episode, requiring the scripts being rewritten to place his character, John Lumic, in a wheelchair. Writer Tom MacRae told Doctor Who Magazine in issue #369 that no rewrites were necessary: the script had always had Lumic in a powered wheelchair.

Filming locations[]

  • The scene where Mickey, the Doctor and Rose all split up was filmed outside the then recently built Riverfront Arts Centre in Newport.
  • Lambeth Pier, Battersea Power Station and MI5 in London
  • Cardiff Docks
  • St Nicholas, New Cardiff

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.
  • As Pete's car pulls up at his house, it can clearly be seen that the two registration plates on the back and front of the car are completely different. When he opens his car door, the glare of a film light can be seen on it.
  • During the scene in which Mickey, the Doctor, and Rose split, there is a drastic change in lighting and colour palette without narrative explanation.
  • When the people freeze, to receive the Daily Download, a scene shows a stopped policeman wearing a badge on his helmet containing the Brunswick Star with a crown and Queen Elizabeth's royal cipher, although in this universe Britain is a republic with a president. As the download begins, one extra behind the Doctor and Rose can be seen moving their arm to their EarPod, presumably trying to secure the prop.
  • When Mickey meets his Gran, the boom mike operator is reflected in her dark glasses.
  • Many scenes show clear skies, with no zeppelins visible. The most notable of which are: when Pete exits his car, above his house, where only a wide expanse of clear blue sky is seen; and many of the 'recruitment drive' scenes where, although numerous zeppelins are visible in the first wide angle shot, all subsequent scenes show empty overcast skies.
  • The first party guest to be deleted after the President has her EarPods in the wrong ears, with them appearing upside down.
  • When the Doctor and Rose run away from the first line of marching Cybermen, one of Rose's earrings flies off. In all future scenes, she continues to have both earrings.


Home video releases[]

DVD releases[]

Blu-ray releases[]

  • This story was released in the Series 2 Blu-ray set in November 2013 along with the rest of the series. Despite not being filmed in HD, the Blu-ray featured an upscaled picture and fewer compression artefacts.
    • This release was initially bundled with the first seven series of the revived Doctor Who.

Digital releases[]

External links[]