Mondas, and the Mondasian Cybermen will feature heavily in the Doctor Who season 10 finale. Here’s why they’re so important in the history of the show.
There was a ripple of excitement throughout the Doctor Who fandom when a promo picture for Series 10 revealed that the finale, ‘World Enough and Time’/‘The Doctor Falls’, would feature the original Mondasian Cybermen, hailing from the planet of Mondas.
But what do we actually know about these cloth-faced men of steel and their wayward home planet?
The Tenth Planet (1966)
Mondas appeared in the skies of Earth in 1986, during the First Doctor’s final story. The chilly tale saw the increasingly frail Doctor, in the company of Ben and Polly, arrive at an Antarctic base. Through the explanation given in the story, we learned that Mondas’ arrival was in truth a return; we discovered that the errant planet was Earth’s lost twin, which drifted away from us “…on a journey to the edge of space.”
Identical in size and shape, Mondas appeared to have the same continents as Earth, although they were upside down and one of the base scientists remarked that Mondas was a name for Earth in one of the “ancient languages”.
During this long interstellar voyage, the planet’s cybernetic scientists perfected the science of replacement surgery, combating weakness and a shortening lifespan by replacing aspects of the Mondasian’s bodies with spare parts made of metal and plastic. Freed from disease and protected against heat and cold, at some point along that journey, emotions were replaced too – leaving creatures driven purely by logic and the instinct to survive.
When Mondas returned, its energy deserves were depleted so the Cybermen planned intend to drain the Earth to the point of its destruction, as well as planning to convert the population to be like them. Sadly for Mondas, though happily for us, the planet and its Cyber citzens were destroyed as it hungrily drew too much power from the Earth. There was also an implication that the power drain of Mondas contributed to the Doctor’s first change of appearance too.
The Cybermen continued to appear throughout the 1960s, launching an assault on the Earth’s moonbase weather control system, at their frozen tombs on their adopted home of Telos and attacking a futuristic space wheel in 2079. They also attempted an Earth invasion again (although that was on a present day earth, so technically earlier than Mondas’ return).
However, they were always seen off by the Doctor, and their design altered radically – cloth faces and human hands giving way to more metallic, impassive helmets and gloves.
After a single 1970’s appearance in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’, they were granted a terrific revival in ‘Earthshock’ and for the rest of the 1980’s, the Cybermen became a regular foe in their new moon boots and cricket gloves outfits. They even gained a regular Cyber Leader with his own catchphrase of “Excellent!”
A whole cyber platoon appeared in ‘The Five Doctors’, ultimately slaughtered by the Master en route to Rassilon’s tomb.
‘Attack of the Cybermen’ (1985)
Mondas however, was not mentioned again until Season 22’s debut story. To be honest, ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ is a continuity troubled mess, but changing the fate of Mondas was at the core of the story, which serves as a sort of sequel to ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ , partially set amid those frozen tombs on Telos.
After reviving their Cyber Controller, they had taken control of a time ship and decided to use it in order to change the destruction of their home planet. Consequently, it became the Sixth Doctor’s job to stop them.
And that is it on screen, save for the allusion made by the Tenth Doctor that the Cybermen of our universe started on a planet “just like Earth”.
Mondas has appeared in some extended media, such as DWM comic strips like The World Shapers, and actor David Banks put forward some entertaining theories in his book Doctor Who – Cybermen, but really no discussion of Mondas is complete without the mention of Marc Platt’s enduringly popular Cyber-genesis audio story.
Set on the fateful planet itself, the TARDIS brings the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa to Mondas as the events that prompted the genesis of the Cybermen play out.
Putting the regulars through the wringer, and with the shadow of Adric’s death still looming, the story shows us the horrors of Cyber conversion in a very personal way, affecting the lives of a relatable, circa 1950s northern family who befriend Nyssa.
First released by Big Finish in 2002, ‘Spare Parts’ brings us the cloth-faced body horror implied in ‘The Tenth Planet’ and weds it to the cyber-planners of later 1960’s stories as the Doctor encounters the terrifying Central Committee.
Although doom laden and ultimately heart-breaking, ‘Spare Parts’ is rightly regarded as a classic, and features some terrific recreations of the original cyber voices by Nicholas Briggs.