The Ice Warriors

This story is not known to exist in its original format
(6 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes)
in its entirety.
Region 1

Region 2
VHS Video
& Audio CD
(Doctor Who Story No. 39, starring Patrick Troughton)
  • written by Brian Hayles
  • directed by Derek Martinus
  • produced by Innes Lloyd
  • music by Dudley Simpson
  • 6 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria land in the year 3000 A.D. amongst the British members of a world wide project to use ionization to hold back the advancing glaciers of a new ice age. Is their leader Clent responsible for making their chief scientist Penley abandon the project? What is the nature of the mysterious armoured warrior they have found frozen in the ice?

DVD Features include:

  • Four digitally remastered complete original episodes (#1, 4, 5, 6)
  • New animated recreations of the two missing episodes (#2 & 3), synchronized to the original television sound.
  • Plus extra features:
    • Audio commentary for episodes 1, 4, 5, & 6 by actors Frazer Hines (Jamie), Deborah Watling (Victoria),
      Sonny Caldinez (Turoc), designer Jeremy Davies, and grams operator Pat Heigham.
    • Audio commentary for episode 2 using archive recordings of writer Brian Hayles, director Derek Martinus,
      actors Bernard Bresslaw (Varga), Peter Barkworth (Clent), Wendy Gifford (Miss Garrett),
      costume designer Martin Baugh, and make-up designer Sylvia James.
    • Audio commentary for episode 3 by Patrick Troughton's son Michael.
    • "Cold Fusion" making-of featurette (25 min.) with Hines, Watling, Caldinez, Davies, and Bernard Bresslaw's son James.
    • "Beneath the Ice" (11 min.) on the making of the new animated episodes.
    • Frazer Hines interview part two (2004, 14 min.)
    • Pop-Up Production Note Subtitles
    • Photo Gallery (4 min.)
    • Older VHS recreation of episodes Two-and-Three (1998, 18 min.)
    • Blue Peter Design-a-Monster competition (1967, 10 min.)

The VHS Packages include:

  • Four complete episodes: #1, 4, 5, 6
  • a special 18-minute sequence recounting the missing episodes 2 and 3.
  • The full-length sound from episodes 2 and 3 on audio CD, without narration.

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

Another good monster story pits humans in one base against a battle-hardened alien species in another, with lots of harsh nature elements thrown in to randomize things. "The Ice Warriors" also manages to tackle a thematic struggle, surrounding the relationship between Penley and Leader Clent and the nature of working in groups.

The TARDIS landing is original, and no effects were skimped on concerning the police box anywhere in the story, however it's a bit dodgy artistically - going for the funny bone of the long-time fan, and doing little to give newer members of the audience any clue as to who the main characters are or what they're about. A further early scene gives us more of what we need: Victoria's advice not to dance into danger allows the Doctor to show that his curiosity is a stronger driving force, one of his definitive ones at that.

Jamie and Victoria fair best in the early episodes, especially the first, where their values and viewpoints clash humorously. From episode two onwards, Victoria is firmly stuck in her damsel-in-distress stereotype, her fear making her most unreasonably inarticulate towards the end of episode three. Jamie's heroic efforts in episodes two and three are commendable, but he has so little to do after that, it would have been a great opportunity to script a holiday for Frazer Hines and leave Jamie completely out of an episode. This doesn't happen; Jamie remains for token appearances.

The Doctor is his typical commanding-heroic self, fully capable of solving all of the problems in this time-space location. However, instead of merely giving these people a fish to feed them for the day at hand, he more maturely teaches Penley and Clent how to fish, thus feeding them for a lifetime. Ultimately, Penley must step forward as a secondary hero to solve the major dilemma at the end, while the Doctor takes a step back like a proud mentor. Interesting dynamic.

Pat Troughton's Doctor is in fine form throughout the adventure. The role of Penley seems to be just slightly out of Peter Sallis's range, either physically or in terms of personality. I can't decide which, but something just doesn't ring right about it. Apart from that, I think Sallis's attempt at Penley is pretty good and gets the job done at the end of the day.

Peter Barkworth does a remarkable performance as Leader Clent, the chief antagonist amongst the good-guys. Such a role is becoming an archetype for Doctor Who's base-defense stories - as such Clent is one of the more interesting ones. Barkworth takes him very believably into hysteria and back again while the character continues to be credible and watchable. The outbursts are quite reasonably motivated and one of the biggest aids for the Clent character are right in the script - he often recognizes his own mistakes after the fact and can discuss them rationally, allowing him to earn back much of the trust he may have lost.

What is the chief conflict between Clent and Penley? At its heart, Clent often leads like a dictator, causing vital personnel to lose their team spirit in the process, while Penley would rather sacrifice the group, his career, and whatever else it takes to not have to deal with Clent's challenges to his personal freedom. Let the two of them argue, however, and they pile a lot of red herrings on top of this, clouding the issue to no end. Penley is all for more study and less brute force, until he hears about the uncertainty surrounding the Ice Warriors' power source. Watch how fast he and Clent suddenly swap sides on that particular issue: suddenly Clent wants more study while Penley pushes for decisive action! Side issues obscure a main one, as complexly as it would in real life.

With our secondary hero Penley being such an important character, it boggles the mind as to why the 18-minute recreation of episodes "two and three" on the official VHS videotape release manages to cut out every single scene of Penley from episode two! His encounter with the Doctor is important for continuity reasons, as the Doctor says, "you again!" upon meeting him in the still-existing episode four. Penley also sells the ending of episode two with his lead-up of: "something's happening on the mountain, something big....", etc. Many of these old stories are padded, in which case scene trimming usually works better than scene discarding, but "The Ice Warriors" works much better with episodes two and three at their full length. I also can't say that I'm keen on the narrator's voice or the quiet visual transitions in and out of the communicator lying in the snow, both of which break up the mood and pace of the story a little too much. Besides, the communicator isn't a recognizable "Ice Warriors" artefact until AFTER one has seen episode four, making it a poor identification device for preceding episodes. This is likely a moot point now that a full-length version has been construction for the DVD release, but back then at least the original intact soundtrack was also included on CD, so no fan had to totally miss out on such good bits.

Let's not forget the Ice Warriors themselves. Varga's voice is unmistakeably Bernard Bresslaw's, as the accomplished "Carry On...." comedy actor leaves an inimitable mark on the role of lead Ice Warrior, getting good support from his second in command Zondal. Sonny Caldinez, who plays the archetype Ice Warrior in the three sequels, is sadly relegated to a third rate Ice Warrior costume for the limited role of Turoc. Varga and Zondal steal the show this time around.

The music starts out in questionable taste with a high-pitched vocalist piercing our ears over the opening titles of episode one, but things improve after that, until Dudley Simpson has managed to deliver one of his most creatively interesting and inventive scores to date. The titles for the remaining five episodes have a much better musical backing, and particularly of note is a suspense track debuting in the third episode, which swipes in something like Tristram Cary's Dalek Ambush music and continues with variations of hollow percussion notes, soft moody musings, and much more careful dashes of our vocalist's skills. A very powerful cue, nicely dominating episode four with memorable repetition.

Derek Martinus does some particularly good direction during the suspense / action scenes in the middle episodes, and episode four boasts a brilliant shot sequence introducing the implosion effect of the Warriors' guns - not only does the mirrorlon shot look better than usual, but the preceding shot of the Warriors clamping their hands together does much to sell the idea. The Warriors' targeting screen, bridging episodes 5 and 6, is a beautiful display of superimposition effects of the period, managing to look realistic in its operation and be an accurate prediction of future popular technology. The very end of the story is not too strong visually - crying out for some good model shots which are sadly nowhere to be found. Character resolutions take over and work fairly well, with our series regulars quietly slipping out to make their exits.

"The Ice Warriors" represents a rather typical outing for the monster season, a good strong story with an above average execution. By no means perfect, but most enjoyable nonetheless.

International Titles:

Magyar: "A jégharcosok"

Français: (Les Guerriers de Glace)

Русский: "Ледяные воины"

"The Ice Warriors" is not known to exist in its original format (6 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes) in its entirety.

The four existing episodes from this story are now available on DVD:

DVD NTSC Region 1 U.S.

NEW for Sept. 17, 2013.
DVD NTSC Region 1 Canada

NEW for Sept. 17, 2013.
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.

NEW for August 26, 2013.

DVD Coverage on The Ice Warriors includes:

  • Four digitally remastered complete original episodes (#1, 4, 5, 6)
  • New animated recreations of the two missing episodes (#2 & 3), synchronized to the original television sound.
  • Plus extra features, see top of page for full list.

This story has also been partially available on VHS video and audio CD:

Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors
  • NTSC version:
    • 1 VHS video tape
    • 1 audio CD
  • PAL version:
    • 2 VHS video tapes
    • 1 audio CD
Coverage on The Ice Warriors includes:

  • Four complete episodes:
    • Episode 1
    • Episode 4
    • Episode 5
    • Episode 6
  • a special 18-minute sequence recounting the missing episodes 2 and 3.
  • The full-length sound from episodes 2 and 3 on audio CD, without narration.
More details & buying options for missing episode VHS videos
Audio CD - Doctor Who - The Ice Warriors.

This audio CD set features the complete audio tracks of all 6 television episodes of this story, narrated by actor Frazer Hines (who also played Jamie McCrimmon) to help listeners follow what used to be visual aspects of the story. This version is playable in any normal audio CD player.
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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Enemy of the World"

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