Peter Capaldi has to be one of the biggest fans to have ever taken on the mantle of the Doctor—and his very last season finale let him fulfill his wish of getting to face off against the original Mondasian Cybermen. But Capaldi ultimately had to let slide one quibble with the show’s take on the classic design.
Director Rachel Talalay revealed to This Week in Time Travel recently that Capaldi was not keen on the surgical gloves worn by the new-old Cybermen in the excellent “World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls,” which, while very creepy looking, was not screen-accurate to their previous (and before that, only) appearance all the way back in 1966's “The Tenth Planet.”
According to Talalay, Capaldi, being the ultra-Whovian that he is, knew that the Mondasian Cybermen didn’t wear gloves—they were just the bare hands of the actors in the suits, leading to the creepy imagery of human flesh attached to the low-tech robotic bodies of the Cybermen:
Peter called me after the first Mondasian incident and said, ‘Why is it they have gloves on their hands, when one of the great things about them was that they had bare hands?’
Although Capaldi was right, he eventually had to be vetoed on the gloves... because the reason the Cybermen were given them was so that the crew could hide the cliffhanger twist that companion Bill had been converted into a Cybermen. If the audience could see her hands poking through the suit, they’d realize it was Bill before they were meant to, so Talalay had to let Capaldi down gently:
I explained that the Pearl [Mackie] Mondasian, we would have an issue with skin colour. And therefore that given in the [original series] black-and-white version you couldn’t really tell if they had skintone gloves, it seemed like we could get a scarier feel and something more artificial by putting the gloves on them.
But good on Capaldi for noticing it in the first place!
UPDATE: A previous version of this article attributed Talalay’s quotes to the Radio Times, when they were actually given in an episode of the podcast This Week in Time Travel. It has been updated to clarify the source, and we regret the error.