The Age of Steel
"The Age of Steel" is the sixth episode of the second series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 20 May 2006 and is the second part of a two-part story. The first part, "Rise of the Cybermen", was broadcast on 13 May.
|172b – "The Age of Steel"|
|Doctor Who episode|
The Cyber Controller confronts the Doctor
|Directed by||Graeme Harper|
|Written by||Tom MacRae|
|Script editor||Helen Raynor|
|Produced by||Phil Collinson|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies|
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Length||2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes|
|First broadcast||20 May 2006|
The episode is set in London in a parallel universe. In the episode, the businessman John Lumic (Roger Lloyd-Pack) has overthrown Great Britain's government and taken over London. A human resistance movement seeks to stop Lumic's plan to convert humanity into Cybermen by destroying Lumic's transmitter controlling London's population.
The episode was the first Doctor Who story to feature the Cybermen since the show's 2005 revival.
The Cybermen have the Tenth Doctor, Rose, Mickey, and the Preachers surrounded. The Doctor uses the recharging power cell from the TARDIS to overload the Cybermen. The group escapes with Pete Tyler, but Jackie is trapped inside. As they flee, Pete explains to the Preachers that he is the Preachers' secret source of information on John Lumic. Pete had mistakenly thought he was communicating with law enforcement. From his hovering zeppelin, Lumic activates the EarPod devices and use them to control the people of London and bring them in for conversion at the factory in Battersea Power Station.
When they reach the factory, the group discovers Lumic's zeppelin moored nearby and head towards it. Ricky is killed by the Cybermen while trying to scale a fence to meet Mickey. Mickey and Jake decide to board the zeppelin to destroy the EarPod transmitter on board, Pete and Rose try to find Jackie, and the Doctor and Mrs. Moore try to find their way to Lumic. Pete and Rose are captured by the Cybermen and taken to Lumic when a now-converted Jackie catches sight of them. Mrs. Moore is killed by a Cyberman, but the Doctor discovers that each unit contains an emotion inhibitor. He deduces that if he disables the signal from the inhibitors, the realisation of what they have become will kill the converted Cybermen. The Doctor is captured by a Cyberman and taken to Lumic.
In Lumic's office, the Doctor discovers the Cybermen have forcibly converted Lumic into the Cyber Controller. Mickey and Jake successfully disable the transmitter, causing the humans to flee the factory. The Doctor subtly tells Mickey over a surveillance camera to find the inhibitor code in the Lumic family's database. He finds it and sends it to Rose's phone. The Doctor plugs the phone into the computer systems, causing the inhibitor signal to drop and sending the army of Cybermen into despair. The Cybermen explode, setting the factory on fire, and the group escapes to the zeppelin. Lumic attempts to follow but falls into the inferno below.
The Doctor plugs in the recharged power cell and revives the TARDIS. Rose reveals to Pete that she is his daughter from the parallel universe. Overwhelmed, Pete walks away. Mickey, feeling that Rose no longer needs him, decides to stay in the parallel universe to help care for Ricky's elderly grandmother and to help the Preachers stop the remaining Cybermen.
According to an interview with Andrew Hayden-Smith, and comments given by Russell T Davies in a press conference, Ricky and Jake were initially intended to be gay and lovers. A deleted scene included in the Complete Series Two DVD box set confirms this.
This episode, along with "Rise of the Cybermen" was produced in the same production block as the series finale story, "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday". Location shooting took place at the Coal Exchange and Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay. Footage from "Rose" — specifically, the destruction of the Nestene Consciousness — was reused as part of the destruction of the Battersea Cyber-conversion facility.
Pete derisively calls the Preachers "Scooby-Doo and his gang" and compares their van to the Mystery Machine. The marching of thousands of mind-controlled Londoners to Battersea (referred to by the Doctor as "sheep") echoes the Pink Floyd song "Sheep" from their album Animals, where the sheep are led into the "valley of steel" to be slaughtered. The album also features a shot of Battersea Power Station on its cover, with a pig floating above it just like Lumic's own airship. Pink Floyd is known for incorporating the Doctor Who theme music into live performances of the song "One of These Days". The Doctor, in determining how to attack the Cybermen, says they will attack “above, between, and below.” This is a reference to the episode “The Five Doctors” where the Doctor is deciding how to enter Rassilon's Tomb by quoting a rhyme. As noted by Noel Clarke on the commentary, Mickey phones Rose and says "I'm coming to get you!", which echoes the Ninth Doctor's words to her at the climax of "Bad Wolf". The words also constitute a catchphrase used by Davina McCall on the UK television programme Big Brother, the latest series of which started two days prior to the episode's broadcast and which also featured in "Bad Wolf". The climax of the episode echoes that of Casablanca, with Mickey in the role of Rick Blaine and Rose as Ilsa Lund. Indeed, Mickey adopts the name "Ricky" and talks about freeing Paris.
Broadcast and receptionEdit
This episode was released together with "Rise of the Cybermen" and "The Idiot's Lantern" as a basic DVD with no special features. It was also released in the complete series 2 box set and the Doctor Who Cybermen collection.
IGN's Ahsan Haque gave "The Age of Steel" a rating of 7.9 out of 10, praising the way Mickey became independent. However, he noted that it worked as a "popcorn episode", with the Cybermen story being a "letdown" and "by-the-book", with the conversation between the Doctor and Lumic about emotions something that was commonly covered in science fiction. Nick Setchfield of SFX gave the two-parter a positive review, highlighting Harper's direction which he felt added imagination and menace to the Cybermen and the parallel universe. However, he felt that Lloyd-Pack's performance was too over-the-top for the current "subtler" incarnation of Doctor Who, which made him come across as "jarringly two-dimensional".
- Attitude, May 2006
- Kilkelly, Daniel (7 May 2006). "Davies wanted 'Doctor Who' gay kiss". Digital Spy. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
- "Walesarts, Coal Exchange and Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay". BBC. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
- "none", Doctor Who Magazine: Series Two Companion (14 - Special Edition), 9 November 2006
- Haque, Ahsan (6 November 2006). "Doctor Who: "The Age of Steel" Review". IGN. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- Setchfield, Nick (22 May 2006). "Doctor Who 2.5 and 2.6 Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel". SFX. Archived from the original on 27 August 2006. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
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- The Age of Steel on Tardis Data Core, an external wiki
- TARDISODE 6[permanent dead link]
- Episode commentary by Noel Clarke, Camille Coduri and Shaun Dingwall (MP3)
- "The Age of Steel" episode homepage
- "The Age of Steel" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "The Age of Steel". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007.
- "The Age of Steel" at TV.com
- "The Age of Steel" on IMDb