Aug 2, 2010
The Doctor and Ace visit England in 1988, where three rival factions - the Cybermen, a group of Nazis and a 17th century sorceress named Lady Peinforte - are attempting to gain control of a statue made of a living metal, validium, that was created by Rassilon as the ultimate defence for Gallifrey.
(This is based on the Extended Version presented on the VHS release rather than that originally broadcast.)
South America, 22 November 1988. In an office full of Nazi imagery, a man looks at a computer screen displaying details on which he sees "Landing Location, Windsor, Grid Ref: 74W 32N, November 23, 1988". He tells his superior, De Flores, who is preparing to shoot a parrot with a bow and arrow.
Windsor, England, 1638. A finely dressed woman is shooting pigeons with a bow and arrow whilst her servant looks on. In her house, an elderly mathematician is performing complex calculations. The woman enters and demands to know how long his work will take, but he is too engrossed in his work to answer her. She goes to the fireplace, and picking up a poisoned arrow, hands it to her servant and tells him to put it with the others. He enquires after a silver arrow, and she replies that she will deal with that arrow personally.
Back in the Nazi office, De Flores addresses a group of followers, telling them they are at the turning point of history. He proposes a toast to the fourth Reich, before taking a silver bow from a display case, preparing to board an aircraft.
In space, a comet is seen from which a glowing energy emanates… Back in Windsor, the mathematician finally reveals the result of his calculations to the woman, telling her that the Nemesis comet circles the earth every 25 years, and its decaying trajectory means that it will eventually fall to Earth from the point where it originally departed — the meadow outside. This will occur on 23 November 1988.
At a jazz performance by Courtney Pine, the Seventh Doctor and Ace relax and enjoy the music. Ace's newspaper has a story about a comet heading to Earth, but she is more interested in the football results. The Doctor hears a bleeping from his pocket watch, and wonders of what it is trying to remind him. Pine's performance ends to applause and Ace asks him to sign a tape for her. As they head back to the TARDIS, a concealed marksman raises a gun towards them. At the sound of gunfire, Ace and the Doctor duck down and retreat quickly towards the TARDIS, but have to jump in the river to escape their pursuers. Two men arrive wielding guns and wearing headsets, but assuming they must have got their targets leave again. The Doctor and Ace then struggle back on to the riverbank, safe now.
In 1638, the mathematician dreams of great inventions that he could discover. The lady tells her servant to bring forth the potion, and he replies that they only require the final ingredient, human blood. They look meaningfully towards the mathematician…
The Doctor fetches out a new tape deck that he has built to replace the one of Ace's that had been destroyed by the Daleks. This one however, can do much more than play tapes. Telling Ace that his reminder had a terminal rating meaning some planet somewhere is facing imminent destruction, an image of the planet Earth appears on the tape deck…
In 1638, the woman and her servant drink their magic potion and begin and are surrounded by a glowing miasma, and beginning to travel forwards through time. They appear in present day Windsor in the middle of a crowded cafe.
Admitting that he has known about the possible destruction of Earth for 350 years, the Doctor and Ace take a quick trip in the TARDIS to Windsor Castle. In its basement, the Doctor tells Ace he is looking for a silver bow.
As the comet finally hits Earth, the Stuart woman's arrow begins to pulsate with light. In the castle, the Doctor and Ace feel the force of the impact. The Doctor tells Ace that it is the return to Earth of a comet called Nemesis, and then reveals that it was he who had launched it into space in the first place. Led by their glowing bow, the group of Nazis head towards the comet in a van. De Flores is in no rush to retrieve the Nemesis yet, as the comet will be too hot due its descent through the atmosphere. He tells his soldiers they will wait in a hotel leaving British police to guard the site, unaware of the true power of the Nemesis. In the castle, Ace finds a card telling the history of the bow, relating how it disappeared in 1788, and that unless a place is kept in the castle for its return, the entire silver statue will return to destroy the world. The Doctor tells her that the statue has indeed returned with that purpose. At this point, the lights dim, and Ace thinks it is a power cut.
Travelling back in time to 1638, the Doctor and Ace go to the time travelling woman's house in Windsor. Seeing the corpse of the mathematician, the Doctor hurriedly covers it with a cloth so that Ace does not see it. The Doctor sees the mathematician's calculations and is impressed that he had been able to work out when the Nemesis comet will return to Earth, only months since the Doctor's previous visit. The Doctor reveals that the woman — Lady Peinforte — made the Nemesis statue depicting herself out of a silver metal that fell to Earth in the meadow outside her house. The Doctor sees a chessboard, the game is going rather badly. He tells Ace that Peinforte managed to travel forward in time to 1988 using the arrow and a rudimentary knowledge of time travel, but mostly black magic. He says that she has a nose for secrets. The Doctor tells Ace the statue is made of a living metal — Validium — which is capable of great destruction.
Peinforte and her servant Richard withdraw from the statue to assess the strength of the police guarding it. The police are having their own problems, their radios are not working, the batteries are dead. Around the comet crash site, vents emerge from the ground spewing gas, causing the policemen to choke and fall unconscious.
The TARDIS materialises outside Windsor Castle in 1988. The Doctor and Ace follow a group of tourists on a guided tour. Seeing a no entry sign, they sneak into the castle. Hearing the bark of dogs, they see a woman coming towards them with several corgis. Although the Doctor does not recognise the woman, Ace immediately realises that it is the Queen Elizabeth II and drags him into hiding. However, when she tells him who it was, he races after the Queen, saying they need the armed forces and police on their side, and what better person could they ask? The Doctor and Ace are seized by security guards before they can get anywhere near the Queen. The Doctor informs them that they got into the castle by travelling in time and space, but they are incredulous. The Doctor tells them the fate of every living person is in danger, but the guards do not believe him. The Doctor dons a pair of oversized glasses and glaring at them intones, "you will believe me! you will let us go!" Distracted by this spectacle, the Doctor and Ace flee into the corridors of the castle. As they run, Ace sees a portrait of herself hanging on a stairwell wall. When she says she does not remember this happening, the Doctor tells her that it has not happened yet.
Richard asks Peinforte what she will do when she gains control of the Nemesis, and she replies that first she will exact revenge on that "predictable little man". She predicts that he will soon arrive, and tells Richard she knows the secret of the "nameless Doctor."
De Flores and his Nazis make their move for the Nemesis comet and see the unconscious policemen. He takes the bow case and places it on the comet, and within the Nemesis statue begins to glow. The Doctor and Ace arrive, and De Flores demands they hand over the arrow. The Doctor reveals that the bow and arrow give the Validium metal critical mass. The Doctor confronts De Flores and asks if he has observed the advanced technology, which has been used to attack the policemen, and the power blackouts that have been occurring over the last few days. De Flores threatens to shoot Ace if they do not tell him where the arrow is, but at this moment a large spacecraft lands near the crash site. The doors open and from within emerge a troop of Cybermen…
The Cyberleader recognises the Doctor, even though his appearance has changed, and tells the onlookers that the Cybermen had predicted his presence. The Nazis open fire on the Cybermen but their bullets are ineffective. The Cybermen open fire and drive the Nazis away. The Doctor says that this happened before, but before it was the Roundheads and Lady Peinforte. Peinforte shoots one of the Cybermen with a bow and arrow. De Flores finds one of her arrows and sees that it is gold-tipped. Peinforte and Richard withdraw, allowing the Nazis and the Cybermen to fight it out, hoping to retrieve the Nemesis in the aftermath. In the confusion, the Doctor and Ace manage to seize the silver bow and return to the TARDIS. Peinforte sees this and tries to shoot them, but her arrow thuds into the TARDIS door just as it dematerialises.
While Peinforte and Richard enter the town of Windsor, the Cybermen begin to cut the Nemesis statue free of the comet. The Doctor and Ace go back to Peinforte's house in 1638. The body of the mathematician has gone, and the chess pieces have also been moved. The Doctor tells Ace that although the mathematician was a genius, he had needed a little help to get started. The Doctor picks up a piece of paper from the desk and throws it into the fireplace. Making a further move on the chessboard, they leave.
Materialising back in the present day, the Doctor explains that Validium was created on Ancient Gallifrey by Omega and Rassilon as the ultimate defence. Some of it however left Gallifrey, and now they must stop Peinforte or anyone else reuniting the statue, the bow and the arrow. Using the bow to lead them, they proceed in the direction of the statue.
In Windsor, Peinforte and Richard are confronted by two thugs, who think they are mugging social workers. The Doctor finds and questions them later; they had been left naked in a tree.
As Richard is terrified by the sight of a bizarre creature, a llama, Peinforte tells him that if he does not help her retrieve the Nemesis, she will abandon him in this future time. He then sees that they are standing by a memorial statue. She tells him that it is his tomb, placed in the grounds of her own burial place. The arrow starts glowing and they realise that that is where the Cybermen have taken the Nemesis statue. As they scour the tomb for Nemesis, the Cybermen prepare to attack, but realising they are armed with gold arrows retreat. Opening up her grave, they see that it does not contain her bones.
Ace destroys the Cybermen vehicle with Nitro-9 explosive. De Flores strikes a deal with the Cyberleader to kill Peinforte and Richard in exchange for a share of control of Earth after its conquest. The Cybermen have no intention of honouring the deal, and plan to kill the Nazis after the death of Peinforte.
The Doctor tells Ace that every time the Nemesis comet approached Earth in its 25 year orbit, it caused destruction: in 1913, the eve of the First World War; 1938, Hitler annexes Austria; 1963 Kennedy assassinated, and now it is 1988. They use the tape deck scanner trying to find the cyber-fleet.
Opening up the grave fully, Peinforte gazes upon her own image shown on the Nemesis statue. However, De Flores and his man arrives with guns, and Richard has only one arrow left. In fear, he hands over the arrow to De Flores and drags Peinforte away leaving the Nazis in control of Nemesis. De Flores believes he now has all three parts of the Validium. Placing the arrow in the statues hands, it becomes more animated. The Cybermen arrive and ask De Flores where the bow is. When he opens the case he sees that he does not have it at all.
The Doctor sees a chameleon and realises the Cyber-fleet is shrouded, and making the adjustment to the tape deck reveals the entire fleet of Cyber-warships, thousands of them…
The Doctor decides to activate the Validium by taking the bow to the crypt. When Ace seems frightened, the Doctor tells her she can wait in the TARDIS, but she refuses and wants to accompany the Doctor.
Meanwhile, De Flores realises he has overplayed his hand and tries to negotiate with the Cyberleader. The Cyberleader orders his lieutenant to kill De Flores, but he throws gold dust in the leader's face and flees. The other Nazi however turns on De Flores and offers him to the Cybermen, asking to be made into a Cyberman himself. The two Nazis are then taken to be prepared for Cyber-conversion. As the Doctor and Ace arrive at the crypt, the jazz tape finishes playing and the Cybermen's communications begin working. The Doctor enters the crypt holding the bow, and manoeuvring past the Cybermen with Ace places the bow in the Statue's hands but snatches it away again. The statue awakens and begins to follow the bow.
Going back to 1638, the Doctor continues his chess game against his unknown opponent. Ace asks him who brought the Validium to Earth in the first place, and what is really going on but he remains silent. Taking a bag of gold coins, they leave.
Peinforte begins to rant about all power being hers and her intent to retrieve the Nemesis. They come to the road, and attempt to hitch a lift in a passing car. Richard stands with his thumb out but no cars stops for them. Seeing this fail, Peinforte steps into the middle of the road. A large car stops, and an American woman offers to take them into Windsor. She tells them that she is in England discovering her roots. Revealing she is descended from the 17th century Remington family, Peinforte calls them thieves and swindlers. Mentioning a Dorothea Remington, the American woman recognises the name, and Peinforte knows that Dorothea died in 1621 from a slow poison.
With the Cybermen set off after the Nemesis and the Doctor, De Flores is released from his bonds by his man, who had deceived the Cybermen into thinking he had betrayed the Nazi leader. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Ace materialise inside the hangar containing the comet. Soon the Nemesis statue arrives, and the Doctor gives it the bow. The Nemesis speaks to Ace telling her that it was fashioned by Peinforte into its current beautiful form, but that it has also had horrific forms in the past, and will again in the future. The Cybermen arrive and Ace shoots one down using a gold coin and a catapult. The Cybermen pursue her, but she manages to elude them. The Doctor sets the trajectory of the rocket sled containing the Nemesis, headed for the Cyber-fleet. Ace becomes trapped on a gantry between two Cybermen and the Cyberleader, with only a single remaining gold coin. The Cybermen lift their guns to shoot her, but she fires the gold coin at the Cyberleader and ducks, causing the other two Cybermen to shoot each other instead. The Nemesis asks the Doctor if she must destroy the entire Cyber-fleet, to which he says that she must. She asks the Doctor whether she will be needed again, or whether she will have her freedom, but the Doctor hushes her.
Ace arrives down from the gantry, but is surrounded by two more Cybermen. They demand that the Doctor hands the bow over to them, but the Doctor threatens to destroy the bow if they harm her. Placing it in front of the rocket sled engines, he grabs Ace. As the two Cybermen advance towards them, the engines fire killing the two Cybermen. However, up on the gantry the Cyberleader plucks the gold coin from its chest unit. De Flores arrives and picks up the bow. He speaks to the Nemesis, but she remains silent. The Cyberleader raises his gun and shoots De Flores dead, and demands that the Doctor hands over the bow. At this point, Peinforte and Richard arrive. Demanding the bow for herself, she asks Ace who the Doctor is, and whether she knows where he came from. Ace says that nobody knows who the Doctor is, but Peinforte says that she does. When Ace asks how, she says the Nemesis told her. The Doctor asks what will happen if he gives her the bow, to which Peinforte replies his power will be hers, but his secrets remain his own. Appearing to concede defeat, the Doctor says he is surrendering, but not to Peinforte, rather to the Cybermen. Peinforte threatens to reveal his secrets, so he calls her bluff. She says that she will tell them of Gallifrey, of the Old Time, the time of Chaos. However, the Cyberleader says that the secrets of the Time Lords are of no interest of the Cybermen.
The Cyberleader tells the Doctor to cancel the Nemesis's destructive capabilities. The Doctor asks the statue if she understands the Cyberleader's instructions, and she replies "perfectly". The triumphant Cyberleader tells the Doctor to set that statue's course to rendezvous with the Cyberfleet. He tells them that the Earth will become their new base planet, the new Mondas. Launching the Nemesis, Peinforte screams and throws herself into the rocket sled and merges with the Nemesis. The rocket sled takes off and heads out into space. It arrives in the midst of the Cyber-fleet and there is an enormous explosion, destroying all of the Cyber-warships. The Cyberleader asks how it is possible, and the Doctor replies that he merely asked if Nemesis had understood the instruction, but had not said anything about obeying them. The Cyberleader prepares to kill the Doctor, but Richard grabs the gold-tipped arrow from the TARDIS door, and stabs it into the Cyberleader's chest unit, finally killing it.
The Doctor and Ace return Richard to 1638. There, Richard and a Stuart woman perform a concert for them. Ace asks the Doctor who he really is, but he just puts a finger to his lips and listens to the music…
In this story, Lady Peinforte claims to be the only one to know the Doctor's true identity. When Ace says she knows the Doctor is a Time Lord, Peinforte shakes her head conspiratorially. Neither this nor any further televised story elaborates, although in a deleted scene from Remembrance of the Daleks, the Doctor claims to be "far more than just another Time Lord"; further omissions from Survival would have featured the Master challenging the Doctor's identification as a Time Lord. These elements are all part of what fans have dubbed the Cartmel Masterplan, a long-term scheme by the show's script editor to return some mystery to the show by way of questioning certain aspects of continuity — in particular the Doctor's character. Although the series was cancelled before the plan could run its course, its spirit was continued in the subsequent New Adventures novel line. (See The Other.)
Although the Cybermen's weakness to gold was established in Revenge of the Cybermen (1975), the Cybermen in Silver Nemesis are far more vulnerable than usual. In Earthshock, broadcast only six years earlier, the Doctor had to grate gold filings directly into the Cyber Leader's chest unit then shoot it several times before it was defeated. In this serial, even a low-velocity impact with a gold (or gold plated) object proves instantly fatal to the Cybermen.
This is the last appearance of the Cybermen in the Classic series.
The Doctor comments, with apparent seriousness, that Lady Peinforte can use black magic, the first time the series refers to magic as anything more than trickery. The Curse of Fenric later implies that Fenric himself had to some degree manipulated these events, leaving open the question as to whether Peinforte used magic or merely believed she was doing so.
|Episode||Broadcast date||Run time||Viewership
|"Part One"||23 November 1988 (1988-11-23)||24:31||6.1|
|"Part Two"||30 November 1988 (1988-11-30)||24:12||5.2|
|"Part Three"||7 December 1988 (1988-12-07)||24:36||5.2|
Episodes two and three were the second and third respectively of the series ever to be premiered outside of the United Kingdom (the first being The Five Doctors), being shown as part of a compilation broadcast of the story on New Zealand's TVNZ, after part one had shown in the UK but prior to the other two being transmitted there.
Silver Nemesis inspired the first section of Kylie Minogue's concert Fevertour 2002. This section called Silvanemesis includes a lot of futuristic details such as robotic dancers and the transformation of Kylie into a Cyberwoman. Her stylist and friend William Baker recognised having been widely inspired by the series Doctor Who in his work. Kylie joined David Tennant in the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas Special, "Voyage of the Damned", playing the companion Astrid Peth.