For their second appearance on the series, the Cybermen were given a major overhaul. Alexandra Tynan was once again tasked with designing the metallic monsters from Mondas, but things didn’t go exactly to plan…
ALEXANDRA TYNAN: I’d already started on the second lot of Cybermen – having thought they’d gone forever – when I took ill. Just before I went into hospital I was lying in bed talking for hours on the phone to people trying to get the whole thing put together. Daphne Dare came in and helped to get that back together again, and there were various other people who helped her because I was off for quite a few weeks. Then I was back for a while and then I had a relapse, but I certainly got as far as designing the second lot of Cybermen but missed the rest of that story and the one after (The Macra Terror).
JACK LOVELL: We only did the chest unit and the helmet on the original Cybermen, not the actual fabric costume, but on their later appearances we were virtually doing the entire costumes. When they made their second appearance in The Moonbase they were totally redesigned because they wanted to make them more frightening.
JOHN LOVELL: I think they wanted to make them more horrendous because the first ones were a fudge-up. We did the whole lot of the Mark II Cybermen: the tubing, the costumes, the toy plastic balls – which you can’t get anywhere now – the whole lot. If you look carefully at a photo of a Mark II Cyberman you can see the small holes we drilled in the side of the neck to let the air in.
ALEXANDRA TYNAN: We had a bit more time and money which allowed us to do more of what we really wanted. They were simplified in style but they still retained the essential elements of the first lot like the piano accordion on their chests, and also their hands were covered. The short answer to why the hands on the first lot weren’t covered is that I forgot!
JACK LOVELL: The designer gave us an initial design but it would evolve into what we would make of it. Really we just tidied them up and made them a lot smoother after their first appearance.
ALEXANDRA TYNAN: The man who made the headgear was called Jack Lovell, a clever guy who went to endless trouble with the fibreglass and did a jolly good job on it. Looking at it now though, I must say that I could have come up with a much better idea of how the whole thing fitted together. They were constructed in two pieces, the helmet proper and a back panel which was fastened on with little hooks – you can just make them out in some of the photographs. The tubing at either side was made of Perspex and we had to put sticky silver stuff around the mouth and eyes to make them more prominent.
JACK LOVELL: We were commissioned to cast up the full head fibreglass helmet and a brand new aluminium chest unit design with a removable gun at the bottom. The helmets were constructed with a removable back panel fastened with small hooks, to allow the actor’s head entry. Inside the mouth was a simple hinged mechanism operated by the actor’s chin and used to indicate which Cyberman was speaking. There was also a bright light fitted in the top section, complete with batteries, which was turned on and off from a switch on the side of the chest unit. Clear Perspex ear-handles were made separately before being fixed permanently into position either side of the helmet.
ALEXANDRA TYNAN: I was much happier with the Cybermen Mark II. The people who made them weren’t that happy though. We bought silver vinyl for the costumes and the people who made them up nearly went bananas. They broke machine needles and they just went round the bend working on those costumes. Very difficult stuff to sew. It was topstitched and hard to get under the foot of the sewing machines because it would slide. They had to try different tactics to stitch it properly. But the finished articles did look good, I thought.
JACK LOVELL: The one piece vinyl jumpsuits were delivered to us with the three fingered hands integral to the costume, we then had to attach the vacuum cleaner tubing and plastic golf ball joints. Army boots were used instead of wellingtons and finally the whole costume was sprayed silver.
ALEXANDRA TYNAN: The costumes were pretty high by the time we finished because of the problems of perspiration. I think most of the blokes wore T-shirts underneath – but precious little else – and with rubber boots and all that vinyl and fibreglass and the hot lights, it was jolly uncomfortable. They certainly earned their money.
JACK LOVELL: We assisted the studio recording of this story to assist Sandra and her team with the dressing of the actors portraying Cybermen. We didn’t work on the next story, Tomb of the Cybermen, because the Mark II costumes were all reused.
The interview with John and Jack Lovell was conducted by Sheldon Collins for DWB in 1989. The extracts are used here with Sheldon’s kind permission.