‘World Enough and Time’ sees the return of the Cybermen. But which ones?
While the trailer for tomorrow’s episode has people talking, one bit stood out for a different reason. When the Doctor claps eyes on the Cybermen – in a costume deliberately styled on their look from ‘The Tenth Planet’ – he declares, “A Mondasian Cyberman!”
While it works better in context, Twitter has responded to this clunky, bizarre line the usual way – by making fun of it! After all, you never hear the Doctor refer to Skarosian Daleks or Sontarian Sontarans!
Mondasian Cybermen? Why stop there? Let's see some Vortisian Zarbi and some Edenian Mandrels.
— Gareth Roberts #SNOG (@OldRoberts953) June 22, 2017
I want EVERYTHING to be labelled like Batman '66 this Saturday. Mondasian Chair, Mondasian Tap, Mondasian Lampshade…
— Billy Treacy (@BillyTreacy93) June 21, 2017
This isn't just chocolate pudding, it's *Mondasian* chocolate pudding. pic.twitter.com/IOi7V8Vona
— spankybackpack (@spankybackpack) June 20, 2017
So why has “Mondasian” provoked such mirth among Whovians? We’re looking back on the use of word down the years to see if/how it’s been used before.
When I first heard the word “Mondasian”, it was used simply to distinguish the OG Cybermen from their parallel Earth counterparts. Every variant seen in the classic series was, ipso facto, a Mondasian Cyberman. As opposed to the Cybus Cybermen from Pete’s World introduced for the revived series. However, this distinction became less clear as New Who continued and the Cybus branding vanished.
But the word “Mondasian” actually dates back much further than New Who. This week, several Twitter threads have sprung up of fans trying to find the earliest use of the word. The first reference they found went back to 1990 and David Banks’ book on the Cybermen.
Banks, you may remember, played the recurring Cyber-Leader throughout the 1980s. He became a familiar voice among the Cybermen, especially when he became really sinister.
David Banks uses the word in his book on the Cybermen published in 1990.
— Peter Crouch (@CrouchingP) June 21, 2017
Even the lovable Clayton Hickman – writer, artist and extremely-minor-details-noticer – joined the fray. Eventually, writer and Doctor Who superfan Paul Scoones dug this up:
Earliest 'Mondasian' reference I've found (so far) is in History of the Cybemen feature in DWM #83, from 1983. pic.twitter.com/A9VCQQpTl7
— Paul Scoones (@paul_scoones) June 21, 2017
Later still, David Brunt – who has contributed to various Doctor Who releases – found this. A reference to “Mondasian” from 1978.
Page 5 in a 'Creation of the Cybermen' piece in the mag, Autumn 1976:
"A Mondasian's love of life was greater than all else" Plus other uses
— David Brunt (@CFarnesbarnes) June 21, 2017
So possibly the earliest use of “Mondasian” happened a whole decade after ‘The Tenth Planet’ introduced Mondas. But all of these seem to refer to the race that became the Cybermen rather than the mechanoids themselves.
So the word “Mondasian” went from meaning the pre-conversion humanoid race on Mondas to meaning any classic-era Cybermen. This usage included any later variant, just so long as they developed from the originals. As the Cybus version was phased out over the new series, “Mondasian” gradually began being applied to the modern kind. Since Neil Gaiman’s ‘Nightmare in Silver‘ reinvented them, most have assumed them to be Mondasian. Gaiman said he believed the Cybus and Mondas variants merged into one group and that the ones he wrote were at least partially Mondasian.
In its current form, the term now seems to be applied exclusively to ‘The Tenth Planet’ style Cybermen. Tom Spilsbury, incumbent DWM editor, theorised this usage was started by Peter Capaldi himself. In several interviews throughout his tenure, he’s has indicated how much he loved the old-school Cyberman style. More specifically, the human-looking hands that was only present in the original Cybermen from ‘The Tenth Planet’. In every instance, he refers to them as “Mondasian Cybermen”. Both to make it clear which kind he means and to show off some fanboy cred. From the interview with ‘The Fan Show’ below, he even says how much he loved the word “Mondasian” (jump to 2:20 if the embedded video doesn’t do it for you).
So, among Capaldi’s many contributions to Doctor Who, he can boast having been a major influence on the changing use of the term “Mondasian”. I wonder if he’ll put that on his tombstone.
Update: After we posted this, the lovely Edward Russell jumped in with this nugget.
So, while Peter Capaldi popularised the new usage, he got it from assistant director Michael Williams. Now you know who to credit!