Season Five had begun with a Cyberman story, so Producer Peter Bryant decided to end it with one. Shortly after Tomb of the Cybermen started off the season, Kit Pedler had submitted a brief story outline called The Space Wheel. Bryant hoped to use Pedler's concept, but as Pedler was unavailable to work on the script, David Whitaker was contracted to write Wheel as a six part story.
The Wheel in Space follows on from the previous story, Fury from the Deep, where Victoria elects to remain in England. Jamie and the Doctor leave her behind, and soon find themselves on a spacecraft called "The Silver Carrier". They find the craft, empty except for a somewhat unfriendly servo-robot, in orbit around Space Station W3, known as The Wheel. The crew of the Wheel are less than pleased to see an unmanned, derelict space freighter millions of miles off course, and prepare to blow it up. Taken aboard the Wheel, Jamie prevents the Wheel crew destroying the Silver Carrier (and the Tardis), but in doing so he has unwittingly aided the Cybermen.
The Wheel in Space introduces Zoe Herriot, played by Wendy Padbury. Zoe has an amazing memory and mathematical ability, and is resourceful enough to get into trouble on her own. And she could scream, too. Finding life on the Wheel rather tame, Zoe decides to join the Doctor and Jamie in their travels.
The Wheel is similar to Kit Pedler's previous contributions, The Tenth Planet and The Moonbase, where a multinational crew holed up in a base are besieged by Cybermen. As with most "base under siege" stories, the besiegers could be almost any creature instead of Cybermen. In this case there were just three Cybermen, however the general lack of scientific accuracy in this story is its greatest flaw. Patrick Troughton took a break during filming, and this explains why the Doctor was unconscious for all of episode two. Due to a strike by scene-shifters most of the story was recorded at Ealing and Shepperton studios, instead of the BBC. As if that weren't enough, the BBC special effects department refused to be involved with the production.
Only episodes 3 and 6 of The Wheel in Space survive, these can be seen on the BBC compilation "Cybermen - The Early Years".
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Introduction by GARY ZIMMER (firstname.lastname@example.org).