After six weeks in Tibet being chased by The Abominable Snowmen, the TARDIS crew might have been hoping for a stop off in warmer climes. No such luck! On November 11th, 1967, The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie (Frazer Hines), and Victoria (Deborah Watling) fell off another snow covered mountain, emerging into a frigid future. This was the start of another six episode serial that would introduce another iconic foe to the expanding universe of Doctor Who.
This new adventure was the third Doctor Who serial to be penned by Brian Hayles who also contributed to Z-Cars, Barlow at Large, Out of the Unknown, Doomwatch, and Public Eye. Titled The Ice Warriors, it depicted a new ice age where a massive glacier is creeping south over the UK forcing evacuations to South Africa.
A group of technocrats wearing groovy plastic togs (Victoria does not approve, Jamie seems suitably entertained) are following computer calculations in an attempt to stem the glacial advance. Field technicians are excavating in the glacier and uncover a figure frozen in the ice. One of thesewokers dubs him “a real ice warrior”, perhaps with ancient vikings in mind. They are watched from the wings by a couple of outcasts, scavengers as they are referred to.
Of course, the ioniser device being used to deal with the glacier is in danger of exploding, a catastrophe averted for the time being by The Doctor. The Time Lord also notices that the frozen figure has an electronic connection that is not consistent with the period when the glacier froze over.
As the ice melts, the helmeted figure begins to stir! The credits tole.
Over the course of the next five episodes, the revived Ice Warrior, a Martian called Varga (Bernard Breslaw) seeks to locate his ship and find his crew, kidnapping Victoria along the way. Drop-out scientist Pensey (Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace) tries to steal medical supplies to treat his injured pal Storr.
In the background is the continuing debate of climate change and how the computer’s solution never works because it runs contrary to its own need for self preservation. The new ice age is a man made problem for sure.
This is one of the serials where episodes have been lost apart from odd clips, although those installments (episodes two and three) have been recreated using animation along with surviving audio recordings. It’s a shame though because season five was certainly on a sizzle.
Coincidentally, you may have heard last week that Australian composer Dudley Simpson passed away aged 95. He wrote music for 296 episodes of Doctor Who and that includes The Ice Warriors. Each episode kicked off with this ethereal tune.