The Ice WarriorsBookmark and Share

Saturday, 9 December 2006 - Reviewed by Eddy Wolverson

The Ice Warriors are one of the best-known monsters in Doctor Who but somehow, up until today, I had managed to see (or hear) every single episode of Doctor Who except the original Ice Warriors story! Now, thanks to the BBC Video boxset, my Doctor Who collection is complete and I can hold my hands up and say “I’ve seen ‘em all!” Born of the same year as the Yeti, the Ice Warriors would make an immediate impact on viewers, putting a brand new spin on the done-to-death science fiction cliché of ‘Martians.’

Inspired by a news report about a woolly mammoth found preserved in a Russian glacier, Bryan Hayles set his serial in the far future (3000AD I believe), where thanks to mans’ ingenious idea of getting rid of most plant life, the excess carbon dioxide has blocked out the sun and caused a second ice age. A team of scientists, charged with halting the flow of a dangerous glacier, find a single Martian – Varga - entombed in the ice and set him free…

Sadly, “TWO” and “THREE” are both still missing from the BBC Archives, but the Restoration Team have once again done a fantastic job in bridging the gap with a fifteen-minute reconstruction of the missing episodes. They’ve even worked it into the narrative as an ‘interruption of service’ caused by the events of the story! By virtue of this, we can now actually see Varga as we hear his rasping voice for the first time in “TWO”! Originally intended to appear far more Cybernetic, the Martians ended up being realised as reptilian humanoids and interestingly, the ones that we see in this story (who are christened ‘Ice Warriors’ by the scientists; it is not their ‘real’ name) are all ‘regular’ Ice Warriors – even Bernard Breslaw’s Varga who seems to be their leader.

I have to say though, I wasn’t all that impressed with things. There are some good things about “The Ice Warriors” – Miss Garrett and the rest of the women’s costumes, for example! – but I didn’t find the story to be worth all the hype. Varga and his men want to conquer the world, so the Doctor uses the scientists’ glacier-stopping ioniser to blow up their spaceship, and that’s about it. 

There are some great performances in there, not only from the regulars but also from the unusually sinister looking Peter Sallis, who plays the amiable scientist Penley (with a drawn on beard? I’m still not sure); Peter Barkworth as the chief scientist Clent; and also Angus Lennie (who I recognised from “Terror of the Zygons”) as Storr. Moreover, some of the stock footage of the snow and the glaciers looks brilliant; they could get away with using tons of stock footage in the black and white days and it would still look great! In all though, it’s not a patch on “The Seeds of Death” or the Peladon stories, but if for nothing else, this story is worth watching for the short skirts and unique TARDIS landing!