TARDIS Index File

The Abominable Snowmen (TV story)

The Abominable Snowmen
Abominable title
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen
Doctor: Second Doctor
Companion(s): Jamie, Victoria
Featuring: Edward Travers
Main enemy: The Great Intelligence
The Robot Yeti
Main setting: Tibet, 1935
Key crew
Writer: Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln
Director: Gerald Blake
Producer: Innes Lloyd
Release details
Story number: 38
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 5
Premiere broadcast: 30 September - 4 November 1967
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: NN
Navigation
←Previous Next→
Doctor Who television stories
The Tomb of the Cybermen The Ice Warriors
RealWorld

The Abominable Snowmen was the second story in season five of Doctor Who. This story introduced the Robot Yeti and the Great Intelligence. Only episode two still exists in the BBC archives.

Synopsis edit

Mysterious forces are at work in 1930s Tibet. The once gentle Yeti have turned savage and besieged a Buddhist monastery. The Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive expecting a friendly welcome from the abbot, but soon become ensnared in the plans of the extradimensional being known as the Great Intelligence.

Plot edit

Episode one edit

Absnow1

The Doctor is confronted by the Det-Sen monks and Professor Travers

Professor Edward Travers, an anthropologist and explorer, is awoken from his sleep by the screams of his companion. He is horrified to see a lumbering, hairy creature standing over his friend's lifeless body. It grabs Travers' gun and twists it into scrap metal as the terrified man scampers into the night.

The TARDIS has materialised on a cold and windy hillside. The Doctor is delighted at their destination - the Himalayas. He tells Jamie and Victoria to start searching for what he calls a "Holy Ghanta". They begin searching through a trunk wherein Jamie finds a pair of bagpipes and a sword and ThenDoctor finds a fur coat which he puts on to protect himself against the cold weather. He leaves Jamie and Victoria to look for the Ganta which he explains is a bell.

The Doctor goes out and observes an ornate monastery in a valley below. He sees a set of gigantic footprints in the snow.

Jamie and Victoria find the Ghanta and discover a label on it reading 'Detsen Monastery.' The Doctor returns to the TATDIS and convinces Jamie and Victoria to stay out whilst he deals with the situation outside.

The Doctor is certain he is being watched and elects to travel to the monastery first.

Victoria soon gets bored of the TARDIS and convinces Jamie to explore.

En route to the monastery, the Doctor finds the remains of Travers' camp and the dead body. He takes the rucksack with him.

Jamie and Victoria find the huge animal footprints around the TARDIS. Jamie goes back into the TARDIS to fetch the sword.

The Doctor arrives at the monastery, clutching the remains of Travers' rifle and rucksack. There is no response when he knocks on the huge wooden doors. He enters. The inner courtyard is deserted much to his confusion however, when he turns back to the door, his route is blocked by a group of armed monks. Travers is also present and before the Doctor can explain his presence, he spots his rucksack in the Doctor's hand. Travers is convinced the Doctor is responsible for the death of his friend, despite his earlier claims to the monks blaming it on a beast. The Doctor protests that he can't be the beast but Travers states he must have got confused by the coat in the night.  The Doctor loudly protests his innocence to the peaceful monks, but Travers insists he is lying. The leading warrior monk, a gruff man by the name of Khrisong send the Doctor to a cell.

Back on the hillside, Jamie and Victoria have followed the trails of footprints right to the mouth of a deep cave. At first, Jamie is unwilling to enter it for fear of some savage animal, but he changes his mind when he spots timbers holding up the roof and sees it must be a man made system.  Victoria sees a huge creature at the cave mouth, and the pair watch in horror as massive claws push a boulder that traps them inside.

The Doctor is increasingly irritated in the confines of his cell. He climbs up to a window to peer outside. Travers pops his head through a hatch and mockingly informs him of the hundred-foot drop beneath the window. He accuses the Doctor of being a sabotaging journalist. When the Doctor asks what Travers is talking about, Travers cries, "You know! The Yeti! The Abominable Snowmen!"


Jamie, unable to shift the rock, decides to go deeper into the cave system.

The Doctor protests he has no idea of what Travers is referring to. He does say he has encountered Yetis before and they are naturally timid so wouldn't have inflicted any damage on him or his friend.

Khrisong is in conference in the courtyard over the fate of this apparent murderer. The other monks doubt Travers can be certain of his claims, but Khrisong says, "He is an Englishman. Why should he lie?" The monks are almost certain the Yeti are somehow responsible for this death and a spate of recent deaths of fellow monks. Khrisong believes that if the Doctor isn't directly the killer he may be inciting the Yetis. The more peaceful monks elect to turn over the matter to the Abbot after prayer. Once they have gone, Khrisong ignores their decision and orders the Doctor brought to him.

Back in the darkness of the sealed cave, Jamie has found a pyramid of silver spheres placed on a raised plinth. Before either can ponder their significance, the boulder shifts again and the huge form of a Yeti enters the cave, trapping the terrified travellers. Victoria screams as Jamie tries to defend her from the monster with his sword, only to see it snapped in two by the creature's hands as it lumbers toward them....

Episode two edit

The Abominable Snowmen2

Jamie and Victoria pursued by the Yeti

Jamie and Victoria evade the Yeti by causing a mini-cave-in and depart with one of the strange spheres. As they do the buried Yeti emerges from the rubble and begins to pursue them. They head toward the monastery

Thomni, one of the monks, has been sent by Khrisong to fetch the Doctor. The Doctor stalls for time and extracts information from Thomni. He eludes to being at the monastery in 1630 and goes to give the bell which has been hidden in the hay to Thomni but is interrupted by Khrisong who pulls him away. Thomni, left alone, finds the bell and fervently prays before it.

The other monks encounter Khrisong leading the Doctor through the Courtyard and object to his plan. The Doctor discovers he is to be used as bait to tempt the Yeti. If the Yeti saves him he is in cahoots with them, if he attacks the monks will try to save him. As he is led away Travers is seen leaving the monastery. He gloats to the Doctor that, without him getting in the way Travers will claim a Yeti easily.

Thomni takes the bell  to the private chamber of Abbot Songsten, who is in communion with the master of the monastery, Padmasambhava. The ancient spiritual guide of the monastery knows the Doctor personally from his previous visit.

The Doctor has been tied up by his hands to some kind of pulley which is connected to the gate. No matter how much he protests, it falls on deaf ears.

Jamie and Victoria encounter Travers on the mountainside. Jamie explains about the "beastie" and the cave. Travers, almost at gunpoint, tells Jamie to show him the cave of the Yeti. Jamie will only agree if he is shown the way to the monastery. Travers agrees.

Padmasambhava knows of the Doctor's wisdom however he fears he will intervene in the "Great Plan. "Thonmi is told to depart, his memory wiped of what he has heard, with the instruction of the Abbot that the Doctor is to be released without harm.

Whilst the monks keep watch over the Doctor Jamie, Victoria and Travers return to the monastery. Travers insists he was wrong to have blamed the Doctor and he should be freed. His wishes are met when Thonmi arrives with the Abbot's instructions. Khrisong is shocked to hear of the Doctor being in possession of the bell.

In the inner sanctum it has been decided that the Doctor should leave the monastery. And if he is not to leave? He is to be....persuaded.

Back in the monastery Jamie shows the Doctor the sphere he stole from the cave. Bewildered he puts it down by the Buddha statue. He seems very keen to see a Yeti close up. As he says this reports of three Yetis approaching the monastery reach the monks. They rush to a window and see the three creatures, much to the excitement of Travers. Jamie has a plan to capture one of the Yetis for the Doctor. Unsure, the Doctor leaves him to it. Jamie sets up a net, not too dissimilar to the trap he has set for Daleks in the past, and captures a Yeti in a net. It struggles briefly but then falls lifeless.

Later the Doctor examines the creature and deduces it is some kind of robot. He finds a small flap in the chest of the machine which now has a missing section. Elsewhere in the monastery, the sphere brought back by Jamie comes to life and begins to roll off in the direction of the captured Yeti.

Episode three edit

Absnow2

The Det-Sen monks examine the captive Yeti

Travers is worried that the real Yeti are threatened by the robot ones, but others suspect he is the one controlling the robots. Outside the monastery he observes two of the robots come to life and head for Det-Sen. It soon appears the creatures are under the control of Padmasambhava, who is moving miniature Yeti like chess pieces around a map of the area.

Inside the monastery the sphere slowly makes its way toward the dormant Yeti robot with the Doctor. Monks look for it, having worked out its purpose. Khrisong finds a sphere outside the walls and the others observe the two Yeti retrieving it without harming it. The Doctor concludes the two were obeying specific orders. Khrisong is overawed by the situation. He begins to trust the Doctor, who decides to try to return to the TARDIS with Jamie for equipment to track the missing sphere. The pulsing globe reaches the dormant Yeti and revives it, causing the robot to menace Victoria and her new friend Thonmi.

Episode four edit

Absnow3

The awakened Yeti battles its way out of Det-Sen

The awakened Yeti fights its way out of Det-Sen despite warrior monks encircling it. Their swords penetrate his flesh but it staggers on. The Yeti returns to the cave where it meets Abbott Songsten.

When the Doctor and Jamie reach the TARDIS they find it guarded by another Yeti.

Padmasambhava communes with the Great Intelligence and vows that "the Great Experiment begins"

Songsten places the pyramid in the centre of the cave that Jamie was in earlier. It begins to glow. Travers watches as the Abbott leaves and enters the cave himself.

The Doctor throws a stone at the Yeti and discovers it is inactive and the Doctor takes out its control sphere for examination.

Travers watches in awe as the pyramid begins to glow and expand. It begins to release a noise that causes him such distress he runs from the cave.

As the Doctor is fetching his equipment from inside the TARDIS the sphere begins to move of it's own free will. As the Doctor struggles with the sphere he tells Jamie to put a rock in the Yeti's flap. This calms the sphere. The Doctor speculates that the spheres are charged with returning to their own Yetis.

Khrisong is angry that Thonmi opened the door to allow the Yeti to flee – albeit to avoid further bloodshed. Victoria and Thonmi are imprisoned for supposedly reviving the creature after some monks questions Khrisong's loyalty.

The signal restarts inside the sphere but this time it is a call to the other Yetis.

In prison Thonmi asks Victoria how the Doctor came by the bell. Victoria is unsure and asks for it's history. Thonmi explains it was given to a stranger 300 years ago for safe keeping. Victoria explains that this was the Doctor himself. Thonmi isn't surprised by Victoria's brief explanation of time travel as he says that Padmasambhava has found a way of liberating himself from body and time.

Songsten returns. He puts the guard in a trance to make him forget his arrival. The Abbot informs Padmasambhava their plan is working. The old master says the Great Intelligence is already taking on corporeal form. To prepare for the next phase, Padmasambhava orders all monks leave the monastery. 

On the mountainside the Doctor and Jamie are surrounded by Yeti. The only way to save themselves is by bowling the sphere one way and running the other.

A monk brings food to Victoria and Thonmi. Victoria takes some of the drink and coughs wildly before falling to the floor. The monk runs out for medical assistance, at which point Victoria dashes up, leaves the cell and locks Thonmi in.

Songsten breaks the news that Padmasambhava has ordered they leave the monastery behind. Khrisong is furious at such a command and is resistant. The confrontation is interrupted by a monk saying Victoria has escaped. As they seek her out the Doctor and Jamke return to the monastery, followed by Travers, burbling incoherently about a pyramid. The Doctor forges an uneasy new alliance with Khrisong to enable the monks to stay at the monastery. Khrisong imprisons the Doctor, Jamie and Travers, despite Khrisong's protestations and order he and his monks seek out Victoria. Realising the monks will not leave peacefully, Songsten is given orders by Padmasambhava to open the gates of the monastery to more Yeti.

Victoria has ventured alone to the Inner Sanctum of the monastery where  Padmasambhava invites her in. He is an ancient and wizened man.

Episode five edit

Padmasambhava

The ancient and wizened face of the Master Padmasambhava

Victoria realises the ancient man manipulating the small Yeti figures is ordering the robots around the countryside. He wipes her mind of their meeting and summons more Yeti to attack. Elsewhere in the monastery, Travers has returned but is delirious and incoherent in his ramblings about the glowing pyramid and a great evil that threatens them all. On command, the Yeti retreat from the monastery again, killing a monk named Rinchen before they depart. Even Khrisong realises the monks must leave.

Padmasambhava wished only to scare the monks away, not kill them. He sends Victoria as his emissary to urge them to leave and not to blame the strangers, who are innocent of any evil. When the Doctor discovers Padmasambhava is still alive after three hundred years, he becomes ever more concerned. He goes to the inner sanctum and confronts his old friend.

Padmasambhava says he encountered the formless Great Intelligence on the astral plane and the entity borrowed his form to conduct an experiment. It is out of control. The old man seems to die, lamenting his part in the crisis. The Doctor leaves and returns to his friends. Seconds later the body of Padmasambhava is reanimated by the Great Intelligence.

The Doctor helps Victoria recover from her trance-like state. He then helps Travers, who explains about the cave and the pyramid. The Doctor pieces together the nature of the threat while Travers recalls that Songsten was in the cave too. It is clear Songsten is the link between the Yeti and the monastery. At the cave, the physical manifestation of the Intelligence is growing stronger and pouring forth menacingly.

Episode six edit

Absnow4

Victoria battles Padmasambhava for control of the Yeti

In the inner sanctum, Songsten has submitted to the Great Intelligence, despite the voice of Padmasambhava lamenting the great evil. He slays Khrisong when the warrior monk arrives. The Doctor and his friends arrive and overpower Songsten, realising he too has been entranced to commit the will of the Intelligence. Songsten is bound and returned to the other monks. The violence of his manner persuades them he is the threat to Det-Sen. The Doctor tells all the monks to flee quickly so he can defeat the Intelligence. He keeps Jamie, Victoria and Thonmi at his side while the others flee.

The Doctor plans to destroy the Intelligence's equipment to control the robotic Yeti. They return to the inner sanctum. The Doctor distracts the being while Thonmi and Jamie start to destroy the equipment. Some Yeti still attack the Sanctum. It is not until these are destroyed that the robots become dormant once more. Destroying another pyramid of spheres expels the Intelligence. Left in peace, the aged Padmasambhava finally dies peacefully in the Doctor's arms.

With the danger over, the travellers depart the ruined monastery. Travers accompanies them up the mountain and his belief in the real Yeti is renewed when he spots one. He charges off to investigate as the TARDIS departs.

Cast edit

Crew edit

References edit

  • The Yeti are controlled by the Great Intelligence.
  • The Yeti are simple but strong robots, created by Padmasambhava over two centuries, and controlled by the Intelligence.
  • The Doctor has been to the Det-Sen Monastery before ("Every time I visit Det-Sen, the monastery seems to be in some kind of trouble"), including a visit in 1630 when he took the holy Ghanta into safekeeping.
  • Thonmi says that the holy Ghanta has been missing for about two hundred years.

Story notes edit

Ratings edit

  • Episode one - 6.3 million viewers
  • Episode two - 6.0 million viewers
  • Episode three - 7.1 million viewers
  • Episode four - 7.1 million viewers
  • Episode five - 7.2 million viewers
  • Episode six - 7.4 million viewers

Myths edit

  • Rapalchan was played by David Baron, often said to be the playwright Harold Pinter under a stage name. Pinter has since denied this rumour. (David Baron was indeed Pinter's name for the purposes of Equity, the British actors' union, but he had relinquished it by the time this serial was produced.)

Filming locations edit

Production errors edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • In episode one, snow is seen on the TARDIS scanner; however, when the travellers emerge not a flake is visible.

Continuity edit

Home video and audio releases edit

  • All known copies of episode two, including audio recordings made by fans during the original broadcast in 1967, contain a brief audio drop-out late in the episode. The Doctor is examining the captured Yeti and is supposed to say, "You were right about one thing, Victoria. This creature certainly doesn't seem to be flesh and blood." In what appears to have been a fault with the master videotape recording, the sound cuts in with "...toria." The fact that the audio recordings of episode two also include this loss of sound indicates that the episode was transmitted with the fault intact. The original VHS release of episode two was edited to remove the silent section and "...toria", coming in instead on the Second Doctor's next line. This was done to avoid customer complaints that the tape was faulty, whilst maintaining the running time of the episode. The DVD release contains a "patchwork repair" of the fault, originally performed by Mark Ayres of the Doctor Who Restoration Team for the BBC Audio CD release, which uses the appropriate words spoken by Troughton with the correct vocal inflexions, taken from other Second Doctor episodes.
  • The soundtrack was released on CD, with linking narration by Frazer Hines, on 2 July 2001. It has been re-released in two box sets, first in the Yeti Attack set (with The Web of Fear, released 7 July 2003), and second as part of the Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes - Collection Four set (released 2 February 2012).

External links edit