|172b – "The Age of Steel"|
|Doctor Who episode|
|Directed by||Graeme Harper|
|Written by||Tom MacRae|
|Script editor||Helen Raynor|
|Produced by||Phil Collinson|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies|
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Running time||2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes|
|First broadcast||20 May 2006|
"The Age of Steel" is the sixth episode of the second series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 20 May 2006 and is the second part of a two-part story. The first part, "Rise of the Cybermen", was broadcast on 13 May.
The episode is set in London in a parallel universe. In the episode, the businessman John Lumic (Roger Lloyd-Pack) has overthrown Great Britain's government and taken over London. A human resistance movement seeks to stop Lumic's plan to convert humanity into Cybermen by destroying Lumic's transmitter controlling London's population.
The Cybermen have the Tenth Doctor, Rose, Mickey, and the Preachers surrounded. The Doctor uses the recharging power cell from the TARDIS to overload the Cybermen. The group escapes with Pete, but Jackie is trapped inside. As they flee, Pete explains to the Preachers that he is the Preachers' secret source of information on John Lumic. Pete had mistakenly thought he was communicating with law enforcement. From his hovering zeppelin, Lumic activates the EarPod devices and uses them to control the people of London and bring them in for conversion at the factory in Battersea Power Station.
When they reach the factory, the group discovers Lumic's zeppelin moored nearby and heads towards it. Ricky is killed by the Cybermen while trying to scale a fence to meet Mickey. Mickey and Jake decide to board the zeppelin to destroy the EarPod transmitter on board, Pete and Rose try to find Jackie, and the Doctor and Mrs. Moore try to find their way to Lumic. Pete and Rose are captured by the Cybermen and taken to Lumic when a now-converted Jackie catches sight of them. Mrs. Moore is killed by a Cyberman, but the Doctor discovers that each unit contains an emotional inhibitor. He deduces that if he disables the signal from the inhibitors, the realisation of what they have become will kill the Cybermen. The Doctor is captured by a Cyberman and taken to Lumic.
In Lumic's office, the Doctor discovers the Cybermen have converted Lumic into the Cyber Controller. Mickey and Jake successfully disable the transmitter, causing the humans to flee the factory. The Doctor subtly tells Mickey over a surveillance camera to find the inhibitor code in the Lumic family's database. He finds it and sends it to Rose's phone. The Doctor plugs the phone into the computer systems, causing the inhibitor signal to drop and sending the army of Cybermen into despair. The Cybermen explode, setting the factory on fire, and the group escapes to the zeppelin. The Enraged Cyber Controller attempts to follow, but, after Pete destroys part of the ladder using the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, the Cyber Controller falls into the Inferno of the factory to his death just as it explodes.
The Doctor plugs in the recharged power cell and revives the TARDIS. Rose reveals to Pete that she is his daughter from the parallel universe. Overwhelmed, Pete walks away. Mickey, feeling that Rose no longer needs him, decides to stay in the parallel universe to help care for Ricky's elderly grandmother (whose counterpart in Mickey's universe died years earlier) and to help the Preachers stop the remaining Cybermen.
According to an interview with Andrew Hayden-Smith, and comments given by Russell T Davies in a press conference, Ricky and Jake were initially intended to be gay and lovers. A deleted scene included in the Complete Series Two DVD box set confirms this.
This episode, along with "Rise of the Cybermen", was produced in the same production block as the series finale story, "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday". Location shooting took place at the Coal Exchange and Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay. Footage from "Rose" — specifically, the destruction of the Nestene Consciousness — was reused as part of the destruction of the Battersea Cyber-conversion facility.
Pete derisively calls the Preachers "Scooby-Doo and his gang" and compares their van to the Mystery Machine. As noted by Noel Clarke on the commentary, Mickey phones Rose and says "I'm coming to get you!", which echoes the Ninth Doctor's words to her at the climax of "Bad Wolf".
The average overnight viewing figure for this episode was 6.85 million (a 36% share), peaking at 7.7 million. The final figure rose to 7.63 million. It received an Appreciation Index of 86.
This episode was released together with "Rise of the Cybermen" and "The Idiot's Lantern" as a basic DVD with no special features. It was also released in the complete series 2 box set and the Doctor Who Cybermen collection.
IGN's Ahsan Haque gave "The Age of Steel" a rating of 7.9 out of 10, praising the way Mickey became independent. However, he noted that it worked as a "popcorn episode", with the Cybermen story being a "letdown" and "by-the-book", with the conversation between the Doctor and Lumic about emotions something that was commonly covered in science fiction. Nick Setchfield of SFX gave the two-parter a positive review, highlighting Harper's direction which he felt added imagination and menace to the Cybermen and the parallel universe. However, he felt that Lloyd-Pack's performance was too over-the-top for the current "subtler" incarnation of Doctor Who, which made him come across as "jarringly two-dimensional".