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The Ice Warriors (TV story)

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The Ice Warriors
TwoAndVargaTIW
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors
Doctor: Second Doctor
Companion(s): Jamie, Victoria
Main enemy: The Ice Warriors
Main setting: Brittanicus Base
Key crew
Writer: Brian Hayles
Director: Derek Martinus
Producer: Innes Lloyd
Release details
Story number: 39
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 5
Premiere broadcast: 11 November - 16 December 1967
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: OO
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Official trailer
Ice Warriors - The classic Second Doctor adventure - Doctor Who00:56

Ice Warriors - The classic Second Doctor adventure - Doctor Who

Memorable moment
Victim of the Ice Warriors - The Ice Warriors - Doctor Who - BBC04:00

Victim of the Ice Warriors - The Ice Warriors - Doctor Who - BBC

Another memorable moment
The deadly stink bomb - The Ice Warriors - Doctor Who - BBC01:44

The deadly stink bomb - The Ice Warriors - Doctor Who - BBC

The Ice Warriors was the third story of Season 5 of Doctor Who. Broadcast in 1967, it marked the first appearance of the recurring aliens, the Ice Warriors.

Synopsis Edit

The TARDIS arrives on Earth in a new ice age. The travellers make their way into a base where scientists, commanded by Leader Clent, are using an ioniser device to combat the advance of a glacier.

A giant humanoid creature, called an Ice Warrior by one of the scientists, has been found buried in the nearby glacier. When thawed, it revives and is revealed to be Varga, captain of a Martian spacecraft that landed on Earth centuries ago and is still in the glacier. Varga sets about freeing his comrades and formulating a plan to conquer the Earth — Mars itself is now dead.

The scientists realise that continued use of the ioniser could make the ship's engines explode. Their computer is unable to advise them without more information. Disaster seems imminent. The disaffected scientist Penley, supported by the Second Doctor, decides to risk activating the ioniser. There is only a minor explosion which destroys the Martians and, at the same time, checks the ice flow.

Plot Edit

Episode 1 Edit

In the distant future at Brittanicus Base, senior control technician Jane Garrett and her staff struggle to control an ioniser which they are using to slow the progress of glaciers rolling over Britain. Leader Clent is convinced they can avert a new Ice Age, but the group knows they are only a few hours away from abandoning the base. Tensions rise when Penley, a maverick scientist who has defected from the team, is mentioned. The remaining senior scientist, Arden, is out on the glacier searching for archaeological finds. He discovers an armoured man in a block of ice. Arden and his colleagues ignore appeals to return to base and help Clent control the ioniser, intent on digging the ice man from the glacier. Two scavengers observe their actions: the anti-technology Storr and Penley, who both live in the tundra, away from technology. When one of Arden’s team is killed in an avalanche, the other two head back to base with the ice man. Storr is also injured in the avalanche, breaking his arm.

The TARDIS arrives outside the base. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria go inside, where the Doctor senses there is something wrong. His action prevents a reactor explosion. Coupled with his scientific analysis of the current ice age — that it has been caused by a severe drop in the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere following the wholesale extermination of plant life — the Doctor persuades Clent of his usefulness, despite Clent's initial misgivings.

Arden and Walters reach the base with their prize. Arden sets up a device to melt the ice around the man. The Doctor examines the frozen man; as the creature’s helmet incorporates electronic parts, they determine that the "ice warrior", who has been entombed since the last ice age, is an alien being. Minutes later, an emergency meeting distracts the staff; no-one notices that the ice block has melted completely. The creature shows signs of life.

Episode 2 Edit

The creature becomes mobile, knocks Jamie unconscious and takes Victoria as a hostage.

The ioniser planning meeting is interrupted by the Doctor’s news about the warrior. He concludes that if the creature is indeed alien, there could be a spaceship powered by atomic systems under the glacier. Using the ioniser in that area could cause a massive explosion and destroy the base. The crew are discussing this when Jamie bursts in and reports the creature has come to life and taken Victoria. An alert is issued throughout the base, but only Arden and Jamie can be spared for a search party.

The creature identifies itself to Victoria as Varga, a warrior from the planet Mars, who has indeed been frozen for millennia. He insists Victoria help him find his ship and crew. With the extra troops he can decide whether to return home or stay and conquer the Earth. Varga steals power packs from the medi-centre to revive his crew.

Penley has helped Storr back to their hideout. Storr’s injuries are so bad that Penley needs to return to the base to steal medical supplies. He sees Varga and Victoria in the medi-centre and follows them as they leave the base. They meet Clent before leaving. Varga leaves him unconscious and badly wounded. Penley is trying to revive Clent when the Doctor finds him. He has worked out Penley is the errant scientist. Once Penley is sure the Doctor is dealing with Clent, he leaves the base, despite the Doctor’s protests that he is needed to help with the ioniser. When Jamie and Arden return from their search, the Doctor persuades them that, with the prospect of more than one creature buried in the glacier, they should postpone the rest of search until morning.

Meanwhile, in the glacier, Varga finds four of his frozen comrades and prepares to revive them.

Episode 3 Edit

Varga begins reviving them. It takes all night. His lieutenant, Zondal, takes the task of creating defences in their ice cave. The other Ice Warriors set about finding their craft and digging it out of the ice. Varga is seen by Penley, who is back tracking in the snow, having used the medicine on Storr. When Penley returns to Storr, he is surprised to find a visitor, Miss Garrett. She begs him to rejoin the base's crew at this critical time. When other approaches fail, she tries to take him at gunpoint but Storr intervenes. Miss Garrett is sent away with Penley’s advice to “check the Omega Factor”. The Doctor tests the new data in simulation and proves that the ioniser can be used more effectively.

Back at the base, Jamie and Arden are sent into the glacier, ostensibly to find the alien spacecraft rather than Victoria. They discover the Ice Warriors’ cave excavation and report back to base. Minutes later, they are ambushed and gunned down by the Ice Warriors, who leave them for dead. Penley investigates. Arden is dead, but Jamie is still alive. Penley takes him back to his home. Storr decides to speak to the Ice Warriors himself, convinced they might be allies. Penley heads after him, warning of their ruthlessness.

Unable to contact Arden, the base personnel assume something bad has happened. Moments later, the video link comes alive. It is Victoria, who tells them of the danger of the Ice Warriors. She is probed by Clent about the propulsion system of their ship. Zondal, concerned that Victoria will reveal their location, trains the ship's weapons on her.

Episode 4 Edit

Varga stops Zondal, hoping to eavesdrop on Victoria's conversation, learn the base's primary concern and use it as a weapon against them. An Ice Warrior is sent to capture Victoria again and use her as bait. The Doctor decides to go to the spaceship to rescue Victoria. Before leaving, he takes with him a phial of ammonium sulphide. It will be noxious to aliens from a nitrogen-based atmosphere such as Mars. However, Victoria flees ever deeper into the icy caves. When the Ice Warrior, Turoc, finds her he is caught in an avalanche and crushed — with Victoria alive but trapped in his dead claw.

An examination of the engines of the Martian craft shows them working, but low on fuel. When the Ice Warriors meet Storr they ignore his offers of help, especially so when he denounces scientists at the very time they want technical aid. Storr is killed but Victoria, whom he brought from the ice caves, is permitted to live.

Meanwhile Penley has found the Doctor and taken him to Jamie. The Doctor determines Jamie’s paralysis is temporary and heads off to the Martian craft. He offers himself as an envoy, leaving his communicator active so Clent can hear, and is allowed to enter the airlock. Varga, suspicious of the Doctor's claims, reduces the pressure in the airlock to zero until the Doctor explains his motives.

Episode 5 Edit

Seconds away from death, the Doctor agrees to Varga's demands. With the glacier threatening to crush the spacecraft, the Doctor gets Victoria released to him. He is less successful in persuading Varga that the ioniser is anything but a weapon against the Martians. The last thing the Doctor establishes before Varga takes the communicator is that Clent needs to use the ioniser at some point, regardless of consequences. The Doctor is marched to the core of the spacecraft, where he spots an ion propulsion system. Varga decides to attack the base before the ioniser is used. He orders his warriors to prepare a sonic cannon.

Penley has brought Jamie to base on a motorised sled. Clent gives Penley a frosty reception and they bicker. Clent says he has decided to adopt the Doctor’s advice and use the ioniser, even if the computer is unconvinced of the merits. The Doctor and Penley’s new formula for ionisation has been tested in other bases with great success and is scheduled for use in Britannicus in a few hours time.

Zondal has been given the task of arming the sonic cannon. With Varga and his other warriors, Isbur and Rintan, focused on this attack, the Doctor and Victoria use the opportunity to release the chemical solution in Zondal’s face. The warrior collapses, but his hand activates the sonic cannon as he falls.

Episode 6 Edit

The sonic blast triggered by Zondal causes only minor damage. Varga uses the communicator to call Clent, threatening to fire again unless the humans surrender. Clent knows the base dome cannot survive another blast and suggests a meeting between the two sides. The Ice Warriors confront the humans in the ioniser room. The talks fail when a demented technician, Walters, tries to shoot the Martians. Varga dismantles the ioniser reactor to get the mercury isotopes he needs for his ship, not caring how this will affect the humans and the dome. Without the ioniser, the glaciers begin to move forward.

The Doctor and Victoria adjust the Martian sonic cannon so it will harm the Ice Warriors and not the humans. Similarly, Penley, who was not in the ioniser room, alters the temperature and atmosphere controls in the base to be uncomfortable for the Martians. The Doctor fires the sonic cannon, forcing Varga and his men to retreat from the base. He fuses it before Victoria and he flee. The Doctor revives the base staff, who were rendered unconscious by the blast, and works with Penley to recalibrate the ioniser. The computer gives a fifty-fifty chance that the ioniser will explode when trained on a spacecraft with an ion engine; Penley tells Clent to work without the advice of the computer. When the computer overloads, Penley takes charge and starts the ioniser.

The Martian craft begins to power up, but does not get far before it is destroyed by the ioniser. The ship explodes without starting a chain reaction, which solves the problem of the Ice Warriors and the glacier. Their work done, the TARDIS crew slips away.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

  • Brittanicus Base is run by Britain.
  • Earth's population has taken over all farmland on Earth, so food production has shifted to artificial means.
  • The Ice Warriors have a sonic gun.
  • Varga has been frozen in the ice for thousands of years.
  • Clent states that thousands of years of history is under the glacier.

Story notes Edit

  • The opening title captions referred to the individual instalments as One, Two etc. rather than the usual Episodes.
  • A real bear was used in specially shot film inserts (as opposed to stock footage).
  • Miss Garrett's entire costume unexpectedly changes between episodes Five and Six. Her outfit in episode Six is the same one she was wearing in episode One.
  • Regarding the dating of this story, a Radio Times article published at the time of initial broadcast placed it in the year 3000. This was the date used in DWM 76, REF: The Doctor Who Programme Guide, The Universal Databank, The Doctor Who File and A History of the Universe, and it was referred to in PROSE: Legacy and The Dark Path. However, REF: The Making of Doctor Who says that it was set three thousand years after the previous story (so circa 4935), TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang says that the Ice Age was in the year 5000, and no stories set in the 30th century seem to depict Earth being in an Ice Age. However, this is contradicted by The Curse of Peledon where Earth is shown as having had diplomatic relations with the Ice Warriors since the year 3885, whereas here humanity appears to be completely unfamiliar with the Ice Warriors.
  • Incidental music from this story exists.

Influences Edit

  • Archaeological discoveries of the time, notably the Sutton Hoo dig, influenced the idea of a buried body proving to be an alien, with the Ice Warrior's space helmet being mistaken for an ancient helmet.
  • Notions about Mars, current in 1967 but now known to be false, also inform the programme, such as the nitrogen atmosphere of Mars which causes the Ice Warriors' breathing difficulties on Earth.
  • The theories of a "nuclear winter" and "a New Ice Age" are the basis for the setting of the story. The disputes between the scientists seem to represent the debate amongst scientists over the validity of these theories. The idea of weather manipulation had appeared in The Moonbase and would reappear in The Enemy of the World, which followed from this story, and in the next Ice Warriors story, The Seeds of Death.
  • Clent states that the cause of the ice age is the lack of carbon dioxide, since there are few plants left after the needs of feeding a global population made farming impractical. Both this story and the next, The Enemy of the World, have as their premise food shortages caused by overpopulation.

Ratings Edit

  • One - 6.7 million viewers
  • Two - 7.1 million viewers
  • Three - 7.4 million viewers
  • Four - 7.3 million viewers
  • Five - 8.0 million viewers
  • Six - 7.5 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • The base computer is called ECCO. (This name was invented by writer Brian Hayles for his later novelisation of the story.)

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.
  • Varga's head design changes after he wakes up.
  • The Ice Warriors' mouths aren't in time with their words.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releasesEdit

In 2013, The Ice Warriors was released on DVD with its surviving parts and animated versions of the missing episodes Two and Three.

VHS releasesEdit

When this was released on VHS it was released with a mini-reconstruction of the two missing episodes (episodes Two and Three), which was narrated by David Harley. The narration was originally to have been provided by Frazer Hines, but a contractual issue arose. The mini-construction also appeared as an extra on the DVD release.

Editing and reconstruction for the VHS release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.

Soundtrack releasesEdit

This story's soundtrack, with linking narration by Frazer Hines, was released on CD on 1 August 2005. It was re-released as part of the box set Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes - Collection Four on 2 February 2012.

External links Edit


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