The Tomb of the Cybermen

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Story Code: MM / Season 5 UK Airdate: 2 Sep to 23 Sep 1967 Doctor: Patrick Troughton
First airings by location UK Repeats / Foreign Cable and Satellite Previous Story / Next Story

This story aired in the following four countries. They are listed in chronological order according to known airdate. (Refer also to Selling Doctor Who for expanded airdates.)

Listing for "The Tomb of the Cybermen" for Hong Kong, from 3 October 1969 – but replaced with The Abominable Snowmen
Listing for "The Tomb of the Cybermen" for New Zealand, from NZ Listener, 1970
The Prydonian Renegade, Aug. 1992. WMMT is actually WMHT. As best as we can determine, the first US station to screen the serial is WTVP in Peoria on 21 August 1992
Australia Jul 68 b/w
Singapore Feb 70 b/w
Hong Kong Jun 70 b/w
New Zealand Aug 70 b/w
  • The films were evaluated by the Australian censors on 10 January 1968, and given an "A" rating. The ABC lodged an appeal in May 1968, and the serial was subsequently reclassified "G". (Likewise, the New Zealand censors, who viewed their copies in October 1969, had to assess the serial twice.)
  • No doubt, the five month delay getting the serial cleared in Australia meant it could not be offered anywhere else, which would explain why it was not sold to Uganda along with the previous batch of season four Patrick Troughton stories.
  • The same four countries to screen this, were also the same four to screen The Evil of the Daleks. Why did Uganda, Gibraltar, Zambia and Nigeria not pick up the serial in 1973? (Presumably it was the delay in getting a sale to Australia of both stories meant that ongoing sales to other countries at the same time couldn't be put on hold, so the two serials were "skipped" by those who were not able to purchase it until after Australia had; plus, the minimum "quota" of sales to Minor Commonwealth countries had already been met by the sales to Singapore and Hong Kong. And by 1974, the 7 years sales rights period was due to expire.)
  • The New Zealand prints were probably disposed of by the end of 1974. (The NZBC's rights to screen the story had expired on 31 July 1973.)
  • The ABC in Australia returned its prints to the BBC on 4 June 1975.
  • In DWM #170 (published January 1991) it is reported that a fan "claims to have seen The Tomb of the Cybermen in the Far East in 1978. The sparse details, which included transmission date, have been passed onto the BBC Archives". This claim was of course false -- however, later that same year...
  • The serial was recovered in full from Hong Kong in late 1991. (It's likely that the films were discovered during the clean-up after the fire that swept through the Asia TV buildings in November 1987.)
  • In DWM #187 (June 1992), it was claimed by writer Adrian Rigelsford that the recovered film prints had been sent to Hong Kong when war broke out in an unnamed country. This is clearly wrong, since none of the previous countries to have had the prints of Tomb suffered such a conflict...


  • After its May 1992 VHS video release in the UK, the newly-discovered serial was subsequently made available for inclusion in TV syndication packages:
United States By Aug 92 b/w
Canada Feb 98 b/w
  • The serial began airing in the United States the weekend of 21-23 August 1992.
  • This was the only Troughton serial to be shown by BBC Prime, in November 1996.
  • The serial screened on UK Gold in October 1998.
  • The story was later dubbed into German and released on DVD.
  • A subtitled DVD was also issued in Brazil.

Movement of the Films

Being one of the missing stories from the 1960s to have been recovered in its entirety, and for which there were only a few countries in which it aired, The Tomb of the Cybermen is a perfect case study for investigating and tracking the possible movements made by the prints.

Let's bullet-point the key dates:

  • Australia:
    • Censored: 10 January 1968 / 16 April 1968
    • Airdates (regional): from July 1968
    • Last Repeat: December 1969 (Perth)
    • Films returned to BBC (London?): 4 June 1975
  • New Zealand
    • Censored: 24-30 October 1969
    • Airdates (regional): August to November 1970
    • Films presumably destroyed or junked by late 1974
  • Hong Kong
    • Originally scheduled for October 1969
    • Airdate: June to July 1970

What we can see here is that Australia had prints from January 1968 until June 1975. New Zealand held prints for over a year, from October 1969 to November 1970. New Zealand was the last of the four countries to screen the serial - so the NZBC can't have sent its prints to Singapore or Hong Kong.

Of note, the recovered prints all exhibited a splice around the 12-minute mark, which suggests this was where the broadcaster inserted a commercial break. The published timeslots for this serial in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong are only 25 minutes, whereas in Singapore, the slot was 30 minutes. This suggests these films may have previously been used in Singapore.

Hong Kong originally had the serial scheduled for October 1969, but that screening was replaced by The Abominable Snowmen. The serial did eventually air in June 1970. Why the delay?

  • Maybe there was an issue with censorship? (Both Australia and New Zealand experienced censorship issues with this serial.)
  • Maybe the expected film prints did not arrive on time? (Melbourne and Hobart repeated the serial in September 1969; Perth was the last region to repeat the serial in December 1969. Was Hong Kong waiting for Australia to send these prints, and because of the late repeat in Perth, Hong Kong had to wait? After all, the original Hong Kong scheduled date was October 1969...)
  • Were the prints they had unuseable (damaged?) and they had to source prints from somewhere else, but had to wait until that country had finished with them first? (If so, Singapore is the most likely candidate, as they had commercials and there is a four month window between the two screenings.)
  • If RTV in Hong Kong did acquire a second set of prints, they probably destroyed their original set. And if as far as they were concerned the 4-parter had been destroyed, could that be why the "other" set managed to survive destruction?
  • Or what if RTV accidentally sent the serial to Singapore before they'd aired it; Singapore screened the serial first, then sent the films back to Hong Kong...


We don't know for sure how many prints there were in circulation. The maximum would be four (one for each country), and the minimum three, with Australia and New Zealand each having their own, and one set shared between Singapore and Hong Kong.

For what it's worth, we favour there having been three prints, one each for Australia and New Zealand, with Singapore and Hong Kong sharing the third set (as they had done with all the other Troughton serials), with RTV sending the films to Singapore unaired (by accident), and RTS sending the films back to Hong Kong, as that best accommodates the fact that the serial was delayed and didn't screened in Hong Kong until months after its original scheduled airdate. It would also explain why there would be "commercial break" splices in prints recovered from a country that didn't have breaks during Doctor Who... And it would also explain why RTV didn't destroy the films or send them back to the BBC: their disposal records said the films were no longer there, having already been sent to Singapore...