Arriving on Earth in the late 20th century, the Second
Doctor, Jamie and Zoe discover that component manufacturer
International Electromatics has a vice-like grip on the world's
technology. The company's director, Tobias Vaughan, is in
fact in league with the Cybermen, and together they are masterminding
an invasion of Earth...
the Cybermen set to return to our screens in David Tennant's
first season as the Doctor, there's no shortage of Cyber-adventures
doing the rounds on audio at the moment, very probably cashing
in on the excitement. In addition to Big Finish's Cyberman
series, BBC Audio has released the creatures' debut story
Tenth Planet and this eight-part Troughton
The Tenth Planet, The Invasion was previously released
as part of the Cybermen tin in 2004 and, in common
with that same story, it is also a very significant piece
of Who history.
For this serial sees (or rather hears, I suppose, since this
is an audio release) the introduction of the United Nations
Intelligence Taskforce, the paramilitary organisation that
would become a mainstay of the series throughout the Jon Pertwee
years and would reappear, intermittently, right up to the
present day. This story is therefore the "pilot episode" of
the UNIT era, if you will, a testing ground and a demonstration
of the show's forthcoming change of emphasis. Director Douglas
Camfield packs in the action, which includes gun battles aplenty
as well as transportation in vehicles as diverse as helicopters,
planes, a lorry and a canoe. Sadly, of course, the visual
appeal of these aspects is lost on audio.
aural terms, the serial also seems to be a testing ground
for sound effects used in a later UNIT tale, The
Ambassadors of Death. Several special sounds
and voice effects would be reused, or at least closely mimicked,
in Ambassadors, including most notably the voice of
the Cyber-planner, which sounds remarkably like the alien
voices in the subsequent serial. In both cases, the voices
were provided by Peter Halliday, who also plays International
Electromatics' Security Chief Packer here. The voices of the
Cybermen themselves aren't very threatening, though the sound
of their hypnotic signal is as memorable as the monsters'
famous march down the steps of St Paul's Cathedral.
stories have always been contentious in terms of their dating.
Are they set around the date of transmission (as stated in
Mawdryn Undead) or a few years hence (as stated in
Pyramids of Mars)?
This story is no exception. Publicity material - including
the synopsis on the back of the CD case - claims that the
serial is set in 1975. This is never stated in the programme
itself, but several story elements strongly suggest a near-future
setting, including a computerised answering service, videophones
and electric cars. While we are all now familiar with soulless
automated call centres, videophones - though in use - are
by no means widespread, and electric cars have yet to catch
on even today, never mind back in 1975. All we know for sure
is that The Invasion takes place four years after The
Web of Fear, which itself occurs more than
forty years after The Abominable Snowmen, which The
Web of Fear states took place around 1935 (though this
date is proposed by Anne Travers and confirmed by Victoria,
rather than by Professor Travers himself, so it might not
be reliable). I believe it is significant that International
Electromatics is said to dominate the world's technology and
that the company's director is in league with the Cybermen.
I theorise that, rather than being set in the future, The
Invasion is set on a version of Earth where certain technological
advances occurred more rapidly than in our world, as an indirect
result of the alliance between Vaughan (Kevin Stoney) and
serials in Patrick Troughton's final season of Doctor Who
were elongated as a result of multiple scripts falling through
during development. Again, this story is no exception. The
Cybermen aren't revealed until halfway through and, as with
The War Games, the plot is padded out with the aid
of endless bickering between the bad guys, in this case Vaughan
and Packer. Vaughan does provide plenty of Bond-style villainy,
though, thanks to Stoney's suave yet sinister performance.
episodes of this adventure are known to exist visually and
have been issued on video, so what really makes this triple
CD worth buying is the chance to hear the previously unreleased
soundtracks to Episodes One and Four. Also including a bonus
interview with the narrator, Frazer Hines (Jamie), The
Invasion may be over-long, but this complete soundtrack
still makes a welcome addition to the range. What would be
even more welcome is a DVD release, with and without the narration
on the audio-only episodes.
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