When Neil Gaiman was asked to return to Doctor Who he was handed a simple remit by head honcho Steven Moffat; ‘make the Cybermen scary again!’ but being the author of such tricksy works as American Gods and The Graveyard Book, it was never going to be just a case of the same old ghosts saying boo in a new way.
Speaking to French website Reviewer.fr, Gaiman said that he had other motivations that stem back to the time when he was first scared by monsters he now gets to play with:
Steven wrote to me and said, ‘Will you make the Cybermen scary again?’ And I thought back to when I was 6 or 7 years old – ‘The Moonbase’, ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’… I saw these when they were first broadcast.
It was because of that indelible impression they made on the young Gaiman that he ranks them above the Daleks as the Doctors scariest foes:
Daleks went around going, ‘Exterminate’, and blowing things up…Cybermen were just… You look up and there’s a Cyberman. “I thought, ‘Let me see what I can do when I take the 1960s Cybermen and [incorporate] everything that’s happened since’. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t know if it will work.”