It was the first part of a two-part story. The story featured the first televised appearance of a parallel Earth that would recur through series 2 and 4, along with said universe's Cybermen. 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", 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 through 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 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)
It 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, Graeme Harper, had directed a revival-era episode. With the exception of other stories directed by Harper, no other director as of 2018[update] has returned to direct the 2005 version of the show.
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", and his wheelchair-bound boss, John Lumic, expresses his pride in this achievement. However, 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 orders his new creation to kill the luckless doctor, which it does via electrocution. Lumic then tell his staff to set sail for Great Britain.
Meanwhile, 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. As Mickey indignantly asks if he was forgotten, the Doctor protests that he was calibrating. 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. 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, "We fell out of the vortex, through the void, into nothingness. We're in some sort of no place. The silent realm. The lost dimension." 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 remarks "And that includes the Zeppelins?" True to his word, the archaic aircraft hover in the sky overhead, proving that they are not in the world they know. 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.
The Doctor manages to find a small part of the TARDIS which is still alive and 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, but he chases after Rose to persuade her not to seek out her 'father'.
One of the powerful players on this Earth is John Lumic, owner of Cybus Industries. Lumic is obsessed with the extension of life through cybernetics since he is confined to a wheelchair by a fatal condition. His latest experiment, a human "upgrade", is nearing completion, and Lumic has one of his scientists killed for raising ethical objections. He has his henchmen round up bands of homeless people and take them to the Cybus factory at Battersea Power Station to "upgrade" them. He also later has a meeting with Pete Tyler and the President of Great Britain, the latter of whom refuses to allow Lumic to carry on his experiments. Knowing that the President will be attending Jackie Tyler's birthday that night, Lumic accesses the security arrangements and house plans in Jackie's mind via her EarPods and orders a new batch of upgrades be created.
The Doctor and Rose discuss Mickey, and Rose tells the Doctor that he was raised by his grandmother after being abandoned by his parents until she died a few years earlier after tripping down the stairs. As the two realise that they take Mickey for granted, they witness a crowd pause as the EarPods they wear download information directly into their brains, and this advanced technology piques the Doctor's interest. The EarPods are manufactured by Cybus, who also own Pete's company, Vitex. The Doctor decides to attend Jackie Tyler's birthday celebration 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 has been left to his own devices and explores the parallel London on his own, where he learns of a curfew from a soldier at a checkpoint. He comes across Waterton Street and knocks on the door of Number 1. Immediately, a woman's voice calls out angrily and the door opens to reveal Rita-Anne Smith, his blind grandmother who, like Pete, is still alive in this universe and still very much a firebrand. Mickey is unable to speak at first, while Rita-Anne rants angrily that she will not be disappeared like the other people, but manages to stammer out a few words that stops the angry old woman in her flow. She is delighted to see her grandson, whom she calls Ricky for some reason, and immediately 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 but forgot to, and tearfully remarks that she'll fall and break her neck if it isn't fixed. Rita-Anne chides him for thinking himself useless 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, who take him back to their base where they meet Ricky, Mickey's counterpart from this universe.
The three of them are the "resistance", a team who have been investigating Cybus' abductions of homeless people 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.
Disguised as catering staff, the Doctor and Rose infiltrate the party 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 out, from Pete himself no less, that their marriage is on the rocks and he has moved out, and Jackie angrily dismisses her as lowly staff when Rose remarks that Pete is worth another try. Jackie doesn't notice Rose beyond her catering outfit, but Pete senses that she is somehow significant to him.
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 "Cybermen". Right as he does so, one of the great plate-glass windows shatters as a Cyberman puts its fist through it. Then another, and another and 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 dismisses them as insignificant and signs off, leaving the Cybermen in charge. One of the Cybermen 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.
Rose, the Doctor and Pete manage to get outside, where they meet up with Mickey and the others, 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."
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Jackie Tyler - Camille Coduri
- Mickey Smith - Noel Clarke
- Pete Tyler - Shaun Dingwall
- John Lumic - Roger Lloyd Pack
- Jake Simmonds - Andrew Hayden-Smith
- The President - Don Warrington
- Rita-Anne - Mona Hammond
- Mrs Moore - Helen Griffin
- Mr Crane - Colin Spaull
- Dr Kendrick - Paul Antony-Barber
- Morris - Adam Shaw
- Soldier - Andrew Ufondo
- Newsreader - Duncan Duff
- Cyber-Leader - Paul Kasey
- Cyber-Voice - Nicholas Briggs
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|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.|
- A group of Cybermen is designated Platoon Zero Two.
- The Doctor explains that the destruction of the Time Lords made it near-impossible to cross between universes now.
- Veronica of Reykjavík hand made flower sculptures for Jackie's "39th" birthday.
- Jackie has an autobiography out, stating she was born on the same days as Cuba Gooding, Jr.
- Mrs Moore suggests that Ricky's father could have had a "bike".
- Jackson Smith was the father of Mickey Smith. He was a key cutter at Clifton's Parade. He went to Spain and never came back.
- Lucy is one of the serving staff at Jackie's party.
- 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
- The Doctor compares the parallel world to a gingerbread house.
- Mickey's Gran offers him a cup of tea.
- Salmon pinwheels are served at the party by Lucy.
- Rose serves champagne at Jackie's party.
- Rose says that her real mum takes two sugars in her tea.
- Early reports erroneously gave the title of this story as Rise of the Cyberman.
- When Rose's phone picks up the Cybus network and connects, a video plays during which a man can be heard saying, "And it's good news for Great Britain as John Lumic returns to the country of his birth. Mr Lumic, the inventor of high contact metal, has denied reports of ill health."
- 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 is the first TV story to not feature any extraterrestrial elements other than the Doctor and the TARDIS since Black Orchid.
- 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 8.
- According to The Sun, 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 wheelchair.
- The scene where Mickey, the Doctor and Rose all split up away from each other in the alternate universe was filmed outside the recently built Riverfront Arts Centre in Newport.
- When Mickey meets his Gran, the boom mike operator is reflected in her dark glasses.
- As Peter opens his car door, the glare of a film light can be seen on it.
- 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.
- During the scene in which Mickey, the Doctor, and Rose split, there is a drastic change in lighting and colour palette without narrative explanation.
- Coincidentally, Ricky was the incorrect name the Doctor called Mickey to annoy him. (TV: Aliens of London, World War Three, Boom Town)
- The Doctor has travelled to parallel universes before. (TV: Inferno, PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon, PROSE: Blood Heat, TV: Battlefield)
- PROSE: Loving the Alien featured an alternate Earth where the humans embraced Cyber technology.
- In the Doctor's universe, the Cybermen were not created on Earth, but on Earth's twin planet Mondas. (TV: The Tenth Planet)
- When Rose is looking at a Zeppelin with her phone on the news, the news reporter mentions Torchwood, as does Pete later at the party. (TV: The Christmas Invasion, Tooth and Claw et al)
Home video releases
- Rise of the Cybermen was sold on Series 2 Volume 3, along with The Age of Steel and The Idiot's Lantern.
- It was also sold as part of the Series 2 Box Set, which included the specials Children in Need Special and The Christmas Invasion.
- It was also sold with Issue Ten of the Doctor Who DVD Files, along with the second part of this story, The Age of Steel.
- It was also sold as part of the Series Two, Part One DVD set.
- 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 features an upscaled picture and fewer compression artefacts.
- This release was initially bundled with the first seven series of the revived Doctor Who.
- This story is available for streaming via Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. It can also be purchased on iTunes.
- It was also released in the Monsters: Cybermen bundle on iTunes, alongside The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel.
- BBC - Doctor Who - Episode Guide - Rise of the Cybermen
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Rise of the Cybermen at The Whoniverse
- Rise of the Cybermen at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Rise of the Cybermen at The Locations Guide