New to Doctor Who or returning after a break? Check out our guides designed to help you find your way!



You may wish to consult Moonbase (disambiguation) for other, similarly-named pages.

The Moonbase was the sixth serial of season 4 of Doctor Who. It saw the reappearance and first redesign of the Cybermen, solidifying their place as one of the series' key villains.

This story was the first in Doctor Who history with sequences taking place on Earth's Moon. Jamie is incapacitated for most of the story, and as a result, his appearance in the story is limited.

Currently, episodes one and three are missing from the BBC film archive. However, they were animated for the DVD release in 2014.


The TARDIS arrives in 2070 on the Moon, where a weather control station under the command of a man named Hobson is in the grip of a plague epidemic — in reality the result of an alien poison planted by the Cybermen. Jamie is knocked unconscious and lapses into a delirium, leaving the Second Doctor, Ben, and Polly to fight off a massive Cyberman attack.


Episode 1[]

The TARDIS makes a bumpy landing after the Doctor manages to control its descent. The travellers observe the scanner, and Polly says that they have landed on Mars after all. Ben disagrees and says that it must be the Moon. The Doctor agrees. Annoyed that he failed to control the ship, he wants to move on straight away but is overruled by Ben and Polly, who want to explore. The Doctor reluctantly agrees and decks them out in space suits.

Moonbase-1-Aniimated Doctor Polly Ben spacesuit

The Doctor, Polly and Ben in spacesuits on the moon's surface.

The travellers explore the surface of the Moon. They begin to lark about in the lower gravity despite the Doctor's warnings, but Jamie overstretches himself and knocks himself out. As the others go to save him they discover his unconscious body being carried away into a Moonbase. They follow and the door opens, welcoming them.

Inside the Moonbase, a staff of workers are operating a series of consoles. One of the workers suddenly collapses, leaving marks on his face. Hobson, the controller, sends the man to the medical bay to join the others who have come down with this virus — who include the base's doctor, Evans, who was the first victim. Ben, Polly and the Doctor are led in. Hobson allows Polly to look after Jamie in the sick bay but keeps the Doctor and Ben with him. Hobson explains that the Moonbase is a weather control station that keeps Earth's weather in check. They are using a gravity machine called the gravitron to control the weather. As this is being explained, another worker falls ill. The Doctor offers his services. The Moonbase contacts Space Control to inform them; Space Control reacts by quarantining the Moonbase. One of the crew tells Hobson that their latest communication with Space Control was listened in on by someone close to the base.

Down in the sick bay, Polly is looking after Jamie, who is hallucinating about the Phantom Piper, his clan's variant of the Grim Reaper. The Doctor sends Ben back up to the control room as he needs someone to be keeping an eye on the goings on up there. He does so and is allocated to work with Ralph in the food store. Once Ben gets there, he discovers from Ralph that some food bags containing sugar have inexplicable holes in them. Ralph sends Ben to get some items on the list, and while he is away Ralph is attacked by a metal hand. By the time Ben returns, Ralph has disappeared.

Back in the sick bay, Polly discovers the Doctor investigating some silver paper. They are interrupted by Dr. Evans, who wakes up and screams something about the silver hand before he collapses and dies. The Doctor wonders what he might have meant and goes to report the death to Hobson.

Ben is reporting the disappearance of Ralph to Hobson when the Doctor comes to explain about Dr Evans' death. Hobson refuses to report it to Space Control just yet as they will close his operation today. He goes down with the Doctor to observe Evans's body.


Polly tending to Jamie in the sickbay.

In the sick bay, Polly is helping Jamie to drink some water. He wakes up to see a figure behind Polly. She turns and sees it disappear through the door. She screams, alerting the Doctor and others. On exploration, there is found to be nothing there. Hobson puts this down to Polly's nerves. Hobson goes over to Dr. Evans's bed and finds the body gone. He asks the Doctor if he is playing a sick joke, but the Doctor assures he isn't. Hobson is informed of another crew member going down with the virus and leaves, telling the Doctor that he will be kicked out if he can't find Evans's body. The Doctor goes to explore whilst Polly leaves to fetch Jamie some water. He awakes to see a Cyberman approaching him — convinced that it is the Phantom Piper, he collapses.

Episode 2[]

Moonbase-2 Polly surprise

Polly's fear as she witnesses the Cyberman's exit.

The Cyberman goes to take another body, but as he leaves, Polly witnesses the Cyberman's exit. She screams, which alerts the Doctor and the others. Polly insists it was a Cyberman, but Hobson does not believe her due to lack of evidence. He sends guards out to scour the base for any signs. Hobson begins to suspect that the situation might be down to the presence of the Doctor and his friends as the situation has only escalated since their arrival.

Moonbase-2 Doctor Polly Ben science equipment

The Doctor begins work using the medical bay's equipment.

Ben says they are more than happy to leave, but the Doctor says they have to stay as he feels he should stay and protect the base from the evils of the universe. Hobson gives the Doctor 24 hours to sort out the situation or else he is to leave the Moonbase. Left alone, the Doctor says that he wants to analyse everything in the Moonbase. When asked if he is a medical doctor, he says he took a medical degree in Glasgow in 1888 under Joseph Lister.

Moonbase-2 Outside Gravitron control room

Outside the Gravitron's control room.

Back in the control room, Hobson notices that the Gravitron is becoming faulty and is stopping them from being able to control the hurricane on Earth. The Controller of Space Control, Rinberg, contacts the crew via radio and states that it is of the utmost importance that they protect mainland America from this hurricane. Hobson sets about testing every part of the centre. The Doctor enters and begins to take samples from the crew as they go about their work. They begin to get frustrated as they find nothing wrong.

Moonbase-2 Cyberman zaps Polly

A Cyberman attacks Polly.

In the medical bay, Ben leaves Polly to get some more supplies. When he is gone, a Cyberman sneaks up to Jamie and Polly and attacks them both. He goes to take Jamie before deciding to take another body. The Doctor enters and nurses Polly back to health.

Unbeknownst to anyone on the base, there is a hole in the food store where at least one Cyberman is stowed away.

Moonbase-2 Doctor shoelaces sample

The Doctor collects samples around the base.

In the control room, one of the engineers discovers a fault with one of the antennae. Hobson asks when it went awry and is told it tallies with the Doctor's arrival. This makes him more convinced about the Doctor and his friends, and he goes to kick them off the Moonbase. As he does he is told by Ben that another person has been taken from the sick bay.

Moonbase-2 Moonbase airlock with 2 scientists-1

Crew members in the airlock.

Two crew members prepare themselves to go out and check the antennae.

In the sick bay, the Doctor explains to Polly that he has tested everything on the base and has found nothing. When Hobson enters, the Doctor acts like he is too busy to talk to him, pushing him out of the laboratory. When he tries to kick the Doctor off the Moonbase, the Doctor pretends to have found something. As soon as Hobson leaves, the Doctor tells Polly it was all a ruse and that he is nowhere. Polly offers to make coffee for everyone.

Out on the surface of the Moon, the two engineers are attacked by Cyberman, stripped of their suits and taken away.

As the coffee is served to the crew, the Doctor admits that he has no clue as to what is causing the disease. As Hobson and the Doctor talk, one of the crew collapses — another subject of the disease. He is taken to the sick bay.

Moonbase-2 John Stacey drinking coffee pain

John Stacey in pain as the virus takes hold.

As Hobson is about to drink his coffee, the Doctor knocks it from his hand, suspecting that it is the sugar that is contaminating his crew; only certain crew members were affected because not everyone takes sugar. He rushes down to the sick bay, and his suspicions are confirmed when he finds a large neurotropic virus that attacks the nerves laced through the sugar. Hobson asks how it has been put there, and the Doctor states it must be the Cybermen — Hobson says that his men have looked everywhere. Conspiratorially the Doctor asks if they have checked in the sick bay where they are now. Hobson says they didn't have to as there is always someone in here. They begin to look around when they discover a Cyberman on one of the beds covered by sheets. Polly gasps in horror as it gets off the bed and moves towards them...

Episode 3[]

Another Cyberman enters. Bob, a crew member, is killed when he tries to attack one of the Cybermen. The new Cyberman links back to the Cybership. The Cybermen explain that the men that have gone missing are not dead, just altered and that Jamie was left because his head was damaged in the fall, rendering him useless to the Cybermen. The Cybermen order Hobson to take them to the control room and tell Ben and Polly to remain in the sick bay.

In the Cybership, the Cybermen are converting the members of the crew to operate under their control. They are placed into capsules for delivery back to the Moonbase.

In the control room, the crew attempt to contact the engineers who went out to fix the aerial. There is no response. Their activity is disrupted by Hobson leading in the Cybermen. They explain that they are to take over the Gravitron to destroy the Earth so as to eliminate any danger. They also explain that they gained access to the Moonbase under the ground.

Back in the sick bay, Jamie wakes up, and the trio talk about how to get rid of the Cybermen. Ben speculates about radiation whilst Jamie suggests holy water. Polly takes Jamie's idea and thinks about how nail varnish dissolves plastic and that the Cybermen's control panel seems to be made of plastic. Ben and Polly mix together a number of solvents and place them in a spray. The trio leave armed with their corrosive liquid.

Moonbase-3-Aniimated Jamie and Ben attack Cybermen

Ben and Jamie enter and attack the Cybermen.

Moonbase-3-Aniimated Polly attacks Cybermen

Polly attacks the Cybermen.

In the control room, the old crew, now under the control of the Cybermen, are led in and take the places of the human crew controlling the Gravitron. The Doctor fiddles with a piece of machinery that renders the controlled crew temporarily useless. The Doctor speculates that they are under sonic control. He speculates that the Cybermen are having the controlled crew work on the Gravitron because they don't like gravity. Sensing the change in weather, Earth attempts to contact the Moonbase, but the Cybermen order that there is to be no reply. Earth asks them to deploy a flare if they are under duress. One of the controlled crew collapses under the exposure to the thermo-nuclear power in the Gravitron, but the Cybermen make him come back to life. As the Doctor begins to experiment with the Cybermen's sonic control, Ben, Polly and Jamie enter, spraying their solvents which have the desired effects. The Cybermen crumble to the floor. The Doctor quickly removes the headpieces from the controlled crew, who are then rushed to the sick bay.

In the Cybership, the waiting Cybermen note the lack of contact from their colleagues. One of the Cybermen tells the other to prepare their weapons for the invasion of the base.

On the Moonbase, Benoit, a member of the crew, suggests he go out and look for the engineers that went missing. Hobson agrees but says he needs to be observed by another member of the crew. Benoit finds the suits and contacts the Moonbase. As he does, he hears his crewmate warning him of a Cyberman, but Benoit doesn't see it until he turns and it is directly behind him. The Cyberman attempts to shoot at him, but his gun does not work in a space vacuum. Benoit rushes off with the Cyberman in pursuit. Benoit is tiring and will be caught before returning to the Moonbase, but Ben emerges from the airlock and throws a flask of the corrosive liquid at the Cyberman.

Back on the Moonbase, Hobson prepares for more assaults. They have located the Cybership. Hobson goes to look at it in the telescope and sees an army of Cybermen marching across the surface of the Moon towards them.

Episode 4[]

Moonbase-4 Doctor looks through telescope

The Doctor observes the Cybermen's movements through the telescope.

The Cybermen contact the Moonbase to tell them that they have surrounded them and that resistance is useless. Hobson is defiant and replies that they have blocked their point of entry. Hobson attempts to contact Earth and finds that the signal has been jammed through the Cybermen interfering with it. The crew speculate that all they need to do is wait it out for the relief craft that Earth would send due to the lack of communication with the Moonbase.

Moonbase-4 Doctor air mask Polly holding on-2

Air masks are deployed after the base's dome is hit.

The Cybership has picked up the imminent arrival of the ship and orders the army of Cybermen to deal with that first before gaining entry to the Moonbase. One of the Cybermen transmits out a control signal which awakens Evans in the Moonbase sickbay. He knocks his guard out and leaves the sick bay. Evans manages to infiltrate the control room. He sneaks into the control centre of the Gravitron, knocking out the crew member and taking his place. The rest of the crew are delighted to see the relief craft approach but become confused when it begins to change course and accelerate. The ship is on a direct path towards the sun. The Doctor suggests that the only thing that would have caused this would be some sort of deflection from the Gravitron. It is then they discover Evans in control of the Gravitron and guilty of diverting the ship. The Doctor sends Jamie and Ben to go to the sick bay to ensure that the other crew have not been reanimated and to barricade them inside. They guard outside, but soon enough the crew awake and try to make their way through the barricade.

Moonbase-4 Sealed hole

Dome hole sealed with tray.

Moonbase-4 Cybermen with large weapon

Cybermen prepare to attack.

Moonbase-4 Moonbase everyone happy success

Everyone overjoyed at the successful removal of the Cybermen.

In the control room, Hobson is using the tannoy to try to reason with Evans but to no avail. They decide to rush him but are stopped by the Cybermen communicating with them, saying that the Moonbase is now under their control. They fire a laser into the side of the Moonbase, sucking the oxygen out. As the crew begin to suffocate, Hobson and Benoit seal the hole with a coffee tray. Amongst the chaos, the Doctor notices that Evans has collapsed and moves him from the control room. To Hobson and the Doctor's shock, another Cybership lands and a weapon is unloaded from it. The crew dive for cover, but the Doctor stoically stands his ground. As they fire, the laser is deflected from the gravitational force of the Gravitron. This success gives the Doctor an idea. He asks if the Gravitron can be dipped so low it could have a bearing on the surface of the Moon. Benoit and Hobson say it has never been tried, but they attempt it. With a few minor adjustments to the machine, it is achieved, which sends the Cybermen and their ships floating off into space. Before Hobson has a chance to thank the Doctor, he and his companions have disappeared.

Moonbase-4 Doctor Jamie Ben Polly space suits-2

The Doctor and companions return to the TARDIS.

The Doctor. Ben, Polly and Jamie have put their space suits back on and return to the moon's surface and back to the TARDIS, they see something overhead with Polly wondering if it is the Cyberman's ship, whilst the Doctor speculates that this will not be the last they see of the Cybermen. Once back at in the TARDIS, the Doctor is curious to see what becomes of the Moonbase and elects to use his time scanner to see its future. Before he gets a chance to do this, Polly, now stricken with fear, points out that a large claw has emerged on the scanner.


Uncredited cast[]


Uncredited crew[]

Animation Unit[]

  • Compositing
    • Sean Mundy
    • Thomas Wood
    • Tom Danger
    • Joshua Wolski
    • David Donnelly
    • Chris W. Chapman
  • Grading
  • CGI Set Restoration - Aaron J. Climas
  • Junior Animators
    • Silvio Emery
    • Adriana Duran
    • Avalon Eyres
    • Jake Opperman
  • Lead Animators
    • Paul Johnson
    • Sean Zwan
    • Colin Bennett
    • Zhe Xiang Tang
    • Gerard Proust
    • Chriatian Barkel
  • Lead Animator Backgrounds - Paul Johnson
  • Backgrounds
    • Sarah Harper
    • Zhe Xiang Tang
    • Chris W. Chapman
  • Editor - Joshua Campbell
  • Audio Restoration - Mark Ayres
  • Thanks to
    • Fiona Ball
    • Steve Roberts
    • Ingrid Taylor
    • Graham Strong
    • SVS Resources
  • Assistant Producer - David Breen
  • Associate Producer
  • Director - Sean Zwan
  • Producer - Stephanie Youlten
  • Executive Producer for Pup Ltd - Dan Hall
  • Executive Producer for Big Finish - Jason Haigh-Ellery
  • Executive Producer for Planet 55 studios - Austen Atkinson

A Pup/Planet 55 Co-Production for BBC Worldwide


  • The Doctor mentions fortnights.
  • The Doctor explains to Polly how the Moonbase maintains a 24-hour time frame so as not to upset the crew’s biological clocks.


The Doctor[]

  • The Doctor says he took a degree in Glasgow in 1888, studying under Joseph Lister. However, by that year, Lister held the Chair of Clinical Surgery at King’s College Hospital, London.
  • The Doctor is seen reading his 500 Year Diary when Polly is explaining her first sighting of the Cyberman to Hobson.

Earth technology[]

Foods and beverages[]


  • When the Gravitron goes out of alignment, hurricanes threaten Hawaii first, then Miami.
  • During a Gravitron test, a five-degree tilt should have placed the probe over Iceland.

References to popular culture[]

  • Hobson calls the Doctor a "proper Rip Van Winkle."
  • While jumping on the Moon, Polly jokes about Ben having had ballet lessons.
  • Joseph Lister was a founder of the Royal Microscopical Society, of which Kit Pedler was Honorary Secretary.



  • The Doctor suggests that the TARDIS is a sterile craft.
  • A chest in the TARDIS provides space suits for the Doctor and his companions.
  • The TARDIS has a time scanner, rarely used by the Doctor, able to give a glimpse of the future.

Story notes[]

  • A working title for this story was Return of the Cybermen (also referred to as The Return of the Cybermen).
  • The closing scene of episode four leads into The Macra Terror.
  • Only episodes two and four of this four-part story exist in the BBC Archives as 16mm black & white film telerecordings. Tele-snaps by John Cura exist of episodes one and three, but these have yet to be made available commercially as tele-snap reconstructions as part of a possible future Special Edition release.
  • In an early edit of the script, the Cybermen had names, as they had in The Tenth Planet, with the lead Cyberman known as Tarn (which Kit Pedler had also used in the earlier serial) or Kron. Gerry Davis reinstated this concept for his novelisation of the story.
  • Alan Rowe is credited as "Voice from Space Control" and "Dr. Evans" (separate on-screen captions) for episodes one and three, only as "Voice from Space Control" for episode two, and only as "Dr. Evans" for episode four. He is billed as "Voice from Space Control/Dr. Evans" in Radio Times for episode three.
  • All of the actors playing the scientists were credited without specific roles under the heading "Others in Cast" in Radio Times.
  • Mark Heath is credited as "Ralph" for episode one, and as "Scientist" for episode three. He is billed without specific role under the heading "Others in Cast" in Radio Times for episode three.
  • John Wills and Sonnie Willis, playing Cybermen, are credited without specific roles under the heading "Others in Cast" in Radio Times for episode one.
  • Another of the unnamed scientists is played by Victor Pemberton, who later served as script editor from The Evil of the Daleks to The Ice Warriors (though only receiving credit on The Tomb of the Cybermen). He also wrote the television story Fury from the Deep and the audio story Doctor Who and the Pescatons. This makes Pemberton one of five people to have written for and acted in Doctor Who; the others being Derrick Sherwin, Glyn Jones, Mark Gatiss and Toby Whithouse. However, Pemberton remains the only one to have acted in a Doctor Who story before writing one.
  • Episode three features a rare sequence in which the viewers actually hear the Doctor's thoughts. Even more unusual — the Doctor actually replies to his internal monologue.
  • The scene in which the Doctor asks Polly to make coffee is often cited as an example of sexism in Doctor Who. In her comments on the 2014 DVD release, Anneke Wills disputes this, pointing out that Polly is responsible for devising the method used to destroy the Cybermen inside the base. Ironically, while the coffee scene is frequently replayed, another scene in which Ben outright tells Polly that going after the Cybermen "is man's work" is forgotten.
  • According to Anneke Wills, during his initial exploration of the control room set, Patrick Troughton was almost crushed when the gravitron prop fell from its rigging and landed only inches away from him. Troughton has said that Morris Barry used this as an excuse to "get the whole set moved around so he could get better camera angles".[1]
  • A scene cut from episode three involving Hobson, Benoit and a Cyberman would have revealed that these Cybermen had left Mondas before its destruction in The Tenth Planet and had settled on the planet Telos. This scene was reinstated by Gerry Davis for the novelisation.
  • Innes Lloyd suggested the moon setting in order to tap into the ongoing space race.
  • Peter Hawkins was given a modified dental palate originally designed for use by patients who had undergone the surgical removal of their larynx, which produced electronic sounds just by shaping the mouth and lips appropriately. Unfortunately, the persistent vibration induced by the device gave Hawkins headaches and made him nauseous.
  • Episode four marks the final appearance of the show's original title sequence for 46 years; it would next appear in The Day of the Doctor in 2013.
  • Gerry Davis wanted the story to take place predominantly on one large set, with just a handful of smaller subsidiary sets and a limited supporting cast in order to save money. This concept would be repeated in subsequent “base under siege” stories during the Troughton era, such as The Abominable Snowmen and The Ice Warriors.
  • The production team wanted the Cybermen to look more robotic and streamlined, and so costumer designer Sandra Reid crafted three alternative designs from which Innes Lloyd and Morris Barry made their selection.
  • During rehearsals, it was discovered that Fauré and Benoit had both been given the first name Jules, so the latter was named Roger. However, the name plate for Andre Maranne's outfit had already been prepared bearing the initial ‘J’, and there was no way to change it in a timely manner. To compensate, Maranne was given a neckerchief to wear to cover the offending letter. However, the 'J' is occasionally visible in some shots in the finished programme.
  • This was the last serial to be recorded at Riverside Studios. The series moved back to Lime Grove Studios, much to Innes Lloyd's disappointment.
  • The final scene leading into The Macra Terror was filmed by that serial's director John Davies as part of filming for the next story.
  • The Danish scientist Nils is likely named for the famous Danish physicist Niels Bohr.


  • Episode one - 8.1 million viewers
  • Episode two - 8.9 million viewers
  • Episode three - 8.2 million viewers
  • Episode four - 8.1 million viewers

Filming locations[]

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.
  • In episode two, when a Cyberman tries to zap Polly while she tends to Jamie in the medical bay, he misses, but she falls anyway.
  • When the Cyberman gets off the bed in the sick bay, he nearly takes the whole bed with him.
  • Close-ups of the transparent dome from the outside only show the Gravitron, not any of the desks, controls, people etc.
  • When Evans sneaks into the Gravitron control room, he puts the cloth helmet on back to front (in the next scene it's the right way round).
  • When the Cybermen's spaceships land, the wires holding them are clearly visible.
  • The Moonbase control room set is noticeably smaller, among other differences, in episode four compared to the other episodes. This is due to the aforementioned need to relocate production of the final episode to another studio. Although the set was rebuilt as close as possible to how it looked in the previous three episodes, there was no escaping the fact that the new studio was physically smaller.
  • Talkback from the headphones of the crew on the studio floor is clearly audible at times during episode four (the same problem as had earlier caused the opening episode of The Daleks to have to be remounted) — for example, a voice can be clearly heard saying "Cue" at the start of the scene where the controlled scientists are first activated by the Cybermen.


Home video and audio releases[]

Audio releases[]

Video releases[]

DVD releases[]

  • The surviving episodes were also released in digitally re-mastered form on the Lost in Time DVD, along with full audio recordings of the two missing episodes one and three as broadcast, i.e. without linking narration. Editing of the surviving episodes' DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
  • In 2014, The Moonbase became the earliest Troughton serial to be released on a standalone DVD when it was released in that format with animated versions of the missing episodes one and three.

Special Features[]

Animation comparison[]

As some scenes or set pieces in this story have both an existing episode and an animation version, comparisons can be observed between the rendering of the two different versions of the story's elements.

External links[]