Watching new Doctor Who in the 21st century, we have become accustomed to the way in which Murray Gold’s musical scores are markers of character’s identities, repeated across seasons and the entire series; so, for example, we not only have themes for the different incarnations of the Doctor but also for each of his companions (e.g. Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Amy Pond) and for different monsters (e.g. the Cybermen). The importance of musical scoring as a key to a character’s identity was nowhere more important than in the way music answered the question on everyone’s lips ‘Who is River Song?’ through an identical score played in ‘Day of the Moon’ (2011) for the scene of River kissing the Doctor and the appearance of the young girl regenerating in New York (see Hexel 2014). There was already the hint that the young girl was Amy Pond’s daughter.

One could be forgiven for thinking this is a feature unique to new Doctor Who, but in fact in a far less pronounced way in the 1980s Adric has a theme (in ‘Full Circle’ (1980) which is played at an emotive moment upon his death in ‘Earthshock’ (1982)) and Nyssa has a theme (in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ (1981) which is repeated at the emotive moment of her leaving in ‘Terminus’ (1983)). Monsters such as the Cybermen had already been given a repeated score in the ‘classic’ series (in ‘Earthshock’ and ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ (1985), for instance), as were Lytton’s accomplices disguised as policemen (in ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ (1984) and ‘Attack of the Cybermen’). Even back in the 1970s, appearances of the Master (Roger Delgado) were accompanied by a haunting tune.

So if incidental music is a marker of ‘identity’ what happens when it crosses identities? Back in the late-1960s a stock theme ‘Space Adventure’ was used briefly in ‘The Tenth Planet’ (1966), and in ‘The Moonbase’ (1967) and ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ (1967) to accompany various appearances of the Cybermen, and again in one of the longest battle scenes in Doctor Who’s history against the Yeti in ‘The Web of Fear’ (1968). To make matters more complex, most of this story has only recently been returned to the BBC in its visual form. So what does this substitution of Yeti for Cybermen tell us about a) the repeated instance of genre in 1960s/mainly Troughton era Doctor Who, b) the importance of having visuals and the point that it was never intended that these stories should just be heard, and c) what fans made of this.

It has been widely recognised that many Patrick Troughton Doctor Who’s fit into the base-under-siege genre. This coincides with the periods of the programme produced by Innes Lloyd and then by former story editor Peter Bryant meaning that there is an authorial signature of sorts. While ‘The War Machines’ (1966) with its machines on contemporary Earth foreshadowed much later Doctor Who, the base-under-siege narrative began properly with the last William Hartnell Who ‘The Tenth Planet’ which saw the first appearance of the Cybermen invading a base in the South Pole. This genre then appeared in ‘The Moonbase’, which again featured a Cyber invasion, and reached its peak in stories of season five such as ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’, ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ (1967), ‘The Ice Warriors’ (1967), where the Martian creature also arose from a tomb (here a block of ice), ‘The Web of Fear‘, which saw Yeti roaming the deserted London Underground, ‘Fury From The Deep’ (1968), and ‘The Wheel in Space’ (1968), yet again featuring the Cybermen, before dwindling away to be seen again briefly in season six’s ‘The Seeds of Death’ (1969) with much of the action set on another Moonbase cut off from the Earth through the sabotage of a T-mat system by the Ice Warriors. Features of this genre then were that a group of people in a secluded space would find themselves under attack by a monster with no means of escape. Horror was therefore enhanced by a feeling of claustrophobia.

The same musical score is played in ‘The Tenth Planet‘, ‘The Moonbase’, and ’The Tomb of the Cybermen’ and in ‘The Web of Fear’. Unlike as is sometimes the case in new Doctor Who, then, a different score does not accompany these different monsters, so, contrasting with the newer version the Cybermen do not have a theme all to themselves. However the use of the same score gives the scenes a similar identity where both concern the monster; music works in connection with genre.

Strengthening this point is the way that until relatively recently (Autumn 2013) episode four of ‘The Web of Fear’, in which this music plays over a battle with the Yeti, was missing from the BBC Archives and existed solely as a soundtrack, even though three episodes of ‘The Tenth Planet’ and two episodes of ‘The Moonbase’ did exist in audio-visual form as has the entirety of ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ since the early 1990s. This means that one could focus on the similarity and that one could not see the Yeti.

Indeed, ‘The Web of Fear’ not only bore similarities with these base-under-siege stories but with its battle scene with the Yeti and the introduction of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) was also a precursor to ‘The Invasion’ (1968) and to the early 1970s Jon Pertwee era. Significantly, although ‘The Invasion’ did not feature this ‘Space Adventure’ musical score, it did again feature the Cybermen. In fact, another precursor to ‘The Web of Fear’ and particularly ‘The Invasion’ was the William Hartnell story ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ (1964); there, as in ‘Web’ the Doctor and his companions arrive in a London where there is no noise, and Daleks glided over famous landmarks such as Westminster Bridge just as in ‘The Invasion’ Cybermen march down the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral (Tulloch and Alvarado 1983).

However, while the incidental music accompanying appearances of the Cybermen and the Yeti in ‘Web’ 4 was identical, the base-under siege stories were meant to be seen and in all four stories the importance of visuals of the monster is highlighted. In ‘The Tenth Planet’ episode one, for example, the theme is heard very briefly as a guard looks and sees a troop of Cybermen, at first obscured by the blizzard of the South Pole, march into view. The episode, like many episodes, ends with a close-up of the monster for dramatic emphasis. The music is heard again in, for example, the third episode where a saucer has landed and there is a shot of the Cybermen falling down dead in the snow, and in the final episode where the Doctor’s companion Ben says ’Hey, look’ as Cybermen inside the base collapse.

Again, looking is key to ‘The Moonbase’. At the end of episode one, the incidental score accompanies Jamie looking up from his sick-bed and seeing a Cyberman moving towards him. Later in that episode, as it dawns on the Doctor that the Cybermen are hidden in the sick-bay, the incidental music accompanies a shot of the Doctor with Troughton’s performance emphasising his eyes looking to a boot hanging out at the end of a bed cover and slowly round. Then a Cyberman emerges from under the cover. Episode four, meanwhile, features this incidental music while there is a visual display of a troop of Cybermen marching across the moon’s surface. The importance of visuals to the narrative is highlighted in scenes which lack the incidental musical score; there are many shots of the Doctor and the humans looking from the telescope located in the moonbase’s central control room onto the moon’s surface and shots of the Cybermen as seen through the telescope; and at the beginning of the second episode Polly sees a Cyberman exiting the sick-bay, the sight of which is denied to us. Also in producing the animated versions of episodes one and three of the story, the producers have drawn attention to the importance of seeing; episode one ends with a zoom-out to a picture of a whole Cyberman which accompanies the musical score while episode three ends with the Doctor looking through the telescope and the Cybermen marching (first their boots shown and then in close-up), again accompanying the musical score.

Sight also plays a pivotal role in ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’. Episodes one and two end with close-ups of a Cyberman and the Cybercontroller and in the second episode, after the explorers have gazed at the gigantic tomb with a camera shot moving up the structure to emphasise observation, the incidental music accompanies shots of the Cybermen emerging from their tomb, seen in one instance gradually bit by bit before fully, and of the Cybercontroller moving forwards. In episode four, the same incidental music accompanies the slave Toberman wrestling with a Cyberman and the foam exploding from a Cyberman’s chest unit.

In the action sequence in episode four of ‘The Web of Fear’, there are not only pointers to the importance of sight in dialogue, such as when soldiers say of the Yeti ‘Look sir’ and ‘Look. They’re smashing down the gate’, but the recent recovery emphasises the significance of the camera work, one reason why it is so important that missing 1960s episodes are returned to the BBC Archives. The sequence begins with a zoom-in shot of Yeti and the importance of this type of shot is highlighted by the fact that director Douglas Camfield repeats it again in quick succession and then yet again after the soldier has stated ‘Look’. The type of shot emphasises observation.

The emphasis on visuals links in to the larger history of Doctor Who and its presentation of monsters. This emphasis has always been present in the programme yet a few other examples from 1960s Who makes the point. The first Dalek episode ‘The Dead Planet’ (1963) ends with companion Barbara Wright being menaced by ‘something’ and in the second episode ‘The Survivors’ (1963) a wide shot first introduces the viewer to the Daleks. At the end of the first episode of ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’, ‘World’s End’, the Doctor and Ian make for the Thames to escape the Robomen, only to be confronted by a Dalek emerging from the water. ‘The Ice Warriors’ presents striking visuals of its monsters. And episode four of ’The Invasion’ ends with a Cyberman bursting out of its container. This is a narrative about the importance of visuals: the companions later descend into the sewers to photograph the Cybermen as evidence to convince the authorities to take action, yet photographs are nowhere near as striking as the creatures face to face or, as noted, marching down the steps of a famous landmark. 


Andrew O'Day
A Case of Identity: A Yeti for a Cyberman and Musical Score in 1960s Doctor Who

the Cybermen do not have a theme to themselves however the use of the same score gives the scenes a similar identity