After exploring the character of the TARDIS in the Hugo Award-winning 2011 Doctor Who episode “The Doctor’s Wife,” Neil Gaiman makes his triumphant return to the beloved BBC series in this week’s “Nightmare in Silver.” This time he tackles the Cybermen, who will be rebooted into new, more terrifying creatures in Saturday’s episode.
Gaiman participated in a conference call ahead of the episode’s premiere and he shared that Steven Moffat originally tasked him to “make the Cybermen scary again.” It was that pitch that got him hooked on the idea of returning to the world of Doctor Who.
“That one really got to me,” said the acclaimed author comics writer, who’s been a fan of Doctor Who since age 3. “I was terrified of them [when they were introduced]. I was much more scared of them than I was of the Daleks. … I started thinking, ‘Well, actually I love the design of the clanky-clanky steampunk Cybermen, but I know that their time is coming up and wouldn’t it be fun if I can make them more scary.’”
And make them scary he did. As fans will realize when the episode airs, these aren’t the Cybermen of years past. They’ve “upgraded” and will be much faster than their predecessors, which is something Gaiman feels is a natural progression for the characters. He said it makes sense for Cybermen to advance the speed of their movements, and thus their new upgraded forms shouldn’t spark a debate similar to the one about fast vs. slow zombies.
Gaiman opened up about the ideas for “Nightmare in Silver” that fell by the wayside. He originally wanted the episode to be set on an English beach and have the Cybermen rise out of the water, but he was unable to write that due to budgetary constraints. He also wanted the Cybermen to be more silent, which won’t necessarily come across in the episode. Despite some of his ideas not making the final cut and a lot of his content needing to be dropped, Gaiman said he still worked better onDoctor Who after being given constraints.