Neil Gaiman is a geek god. He’s the author of several award winning books and comics including the series The Sandman and novel American Gods. He’s a Doctor Who fan and if he could’ve traveled with any incarnation of the Doctor, it would’ve been Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor.
“Doctor Who was the first mythology that I ever knew,” he said.
Tonight Gaiman returns with Nightmare in Silver, the second episode he’s penned for the BBC America show about all of time and space. In Nightmare, the Doctor, Clara (Jenna Louise-Coleman), Artie and Angie arrive at Hedgewick’s World of Worlds, once the greatest theme park in the galaxy but now home to strange creatures and a terrifying new breed of Cybermen.
The Cybermen are not only one of the Doctor’s greatest enemies but one of Gaiman’s greatest passions. His first Doctor Who experience was seeing the fourth season episode, Moonbase, as a child. Swift and silent Cybermen were at the center of the episode and those villains stuck with Gaiman.
On the heels of his first Who episode, season five’s The Doctor’s Wife, he was asked by showrunner Steven Moffat if he would write another. At first declining because he simply didn’t have the time, Gaiman was drawn in when Moffat asked him to “do something” with the Cybermen. That was enough.
Nightmare in Silver re-imagines the Cybermen to a new and more frightening level. Some Whovians may balk at Gaiman’s “changes” to the Cybermen, especially those fans who felt he created new canon concerning the TARDIS during The Doctor’s Wife. From his perspective, Gaiman believes in that episode he simply expanded on the idea that the TARDIS is, and always has been, a living entity.
As for the Cybermen, he really feels that, similar to modern technology, they would upgrade. The beloved author has worked to reestablished the metal men as true monsters and especially enjoyed creating the Cybermites, which invade a person and colonized their mind.
“I got to do all this ridiculously fun stuff,” said Gaiman, referring also to giving Matt Smith the task of both the Eleventh Doctor and his cyber-doppelganger.
Even with all the fun he had with Nightmare, there’s plenty that didn’t make it to the screen. Gaiman would love to return to expand on these new Cyberman or, even better, to made a new foe for the Doctor. “I’d really like to create a monster,” he said, adding that he’d like it to be one that other creators can pick up and run with.
That said, Gaiman doesn’t currently have any Doctor Who plans, such as taking over as showrunner if Moffat leaves, but he would like to write for the show again. “I think they’ll have me back,” he said. “I know that I feel ridiculously comfortable in that universe and that I’ll keep coming back as long as they’ll have me.”
Catch Nightmare in Silver tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BBC America.