Attack of the Cybermen

Norfolk, 2006 – I remember it vividly. We’d been invited down for a weekend break, as there was a Doctor Who event in town with guest star Colin Baker. As I clutched my newly purchased poster of Attack of the Cybermen and queued for his autograph, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of guilt – because the undeniable truth was, I never really warmed to the Sixth Doctor. It didn’t help that he had replaced ‘my Doctor’ or that his brash, provocative style was such a contrast to his predecessor; but there was more to it than that.

The Colin Baker years were a troubled time for the show and arguably the start of a decline that ultimately left us with the hugely popular and enduring Eldorado – which was a bit like putting out your recycling only to find a pile of junk mail on your doormat when you got indoors; you hope something positive will come from your sacrifice, but there’s always a chance you’ll receive something worse.

Doctor Who - Attack of the Cybermen

However, something strange happened to me that day when I got home; I sat down to listen to Big Finish’s Curse of Lanyon Moor. There’s something about Doctor Who and the sleepy British village that ticks all my boxes: The Eleventh Hour, Human Nature, The Awakening, The Daemons, Terror of the Zygons – the list goes on. Being a sucker for a good Miss Marple, maybe it’s not too hard to put your finger on it…. or why The Unicorn and the Wasp will forever be top of my list of favourites – but we digress.

I enjoyed the story so much, that I did something I never thought I would – I bulk ordered the Sixth Doctor’s back catalogue and set off to explore the ‘Colin Baker years’. Okay, let’s be honest, there are more than a few painful memories in these years that, in time, we will pay homage to; but there are surprisingly a few hidden gems – amongst which, the afore-mentioned Attack of the Cybermen. Now no doubt there will be some who wince at that statement, but I stand by it – continuity errors and all.

Unusually, the Sixth Doctor’s tenure began immediately after his regeneration, as the last episode of season 21. The Twin Dilemma, referred to as “the beginning of the end”, by Russell T Davies, was quite simply dreadful – why Anthony Steven was entrusted with writing Doctor Who will always be a mystery to me; perhaps as much of a mystery as John Nathan-Turner’s costume decision – referred to by Colin Baker as “an explosion in a Rainbow factory”.

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