Sure, the Cybermen have been “back” in the revived era of Doctor Who for a while. Hell, they’ve even been turned into Iron Man, basically. But these Cybermen never were actually the original monsters from the classic series—they were parallel world knockoffs. And now, the grandaddies of all Cybermen are finally back.
The BBC has officially announced that the Mondasian Cybermen—i.e., the Cybermen from the planet Mondas, the original cyborg aliens that first appeared in William Hartnell’s final Doctor Who story, “The Tenth Planet,” way back in 1966—will appear in episodes 11 and 12 of Peter Capaldi’s final season of Doctor Who.
Although the Cybermen have become a staple of the show almost as much as the Daleks, this original design of Cyberman has never been seen since their debut story—which is a shame, because, as retro as they might look in 2017, this is probably the creepiest incarnation of the metallic cyborg monsters in Doctor Who’s history.
Created by Gerry Davis and Who’s unofficial scientific adviser, Dr. Kit Pedler, the Cybermen were meant to originally play on the fear of body modification and artificial enhancement, and their design reflected that. Instead of being clad in steel armor as they were when Doctor Who brought them back in 2006, they were a bizarre mix of flesh and silver: pallid, mushy organic hands reaching out from a rubbery body, and a strange, unmoving face unnervingly draped in a tight fabric to give them an almost skull-like quality. Even their voices were downright creepy: a Mondasian Cyberman’s mouth would open wide, and then never move as a distorted, sing-song electronic voice spooled out of it. The concept behind the Cybermen has always been scary, but the design of the originals is really the only one that’s come close to making that fear and discomfort a tangible aspect of the characters. Personally, as a Doctor Who fan, I’m incredibly excited to see this original incarnation of one of the Doctor’s best enemies back after all these years.
Doctor Who’s 10th season is set to begin on BBC One and BBC America April 15.