by Paul Bowler:
There are few Sci-Fi TV shows that can match Doctor Who for the sheer diversity of memorable alien monsters that have returned time and again to menace the Doctor over his many adventures in time and space. As we get ready for Doctor Who to return to our screens this Easter, on Saturday 30thMarch, news emerged today that Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman will face one of the Time Lords classic adversaries – the Ice Warriors!
The reptilian creatures who originated from the planet Mars will return in the second half of Series Seven of Doctor Who during the third episode. Written by fan favourite and horror aficionado Mark Gatiss, and directed by Douglas Mackinnon, the episode takes place on a submarine, staring David Warner, and will see the Doctor battling against the Ice Warriors.
Talking exclusively to SFX Magazine executive producer Caro Skinner said: “We’ve got the most fantastic episode by Mark Gatiss, where we bring back the Ice Warriors… on a submarine! It’s a really wonderful kind of ‘bunker’ episode, and a classic monster which Mark has brought his own inimitable twist to. We wanted to bring them back because they are wonderful!” Skinner said, adding. “Mark is an enormous fan of the Ice Warrior stories, and came up with the idea.”
After the return of the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, and the Great Intelligence in the 2012 Christmas Special: The Snowmen, it seems only fitting that the Ice Warriors finally make an appearance in the new series as Doctor Who gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The Martians from the red planet first appeared in 1967 during the programmes fifth season, when Patrick Troughton played the 2nd Doctor. The Ice Warriors saw the world locked in the grip of a news ice age. The Doctor, Jamie (Frazer Hines), and Victoria (Deborah Watling) arrive as a group of scientists discover a giant figure buried inside a glacier. When the Ice Warrior thaws out it breaks free and captures Victoria, before returning to its spaceship in the ice to revive its crew. Written by Brian Hayles, the Ice Warriors is one of Doctor Who’s all time classic stories. The Ice Warriors distinctive armoured costumes were designed by Martin Baugh, their rasping voices made them even more sinister, and Director Derek Martinus cast tall actors to play the Ice Warriors – including Bernard Bresslaw (famous for his roles in the Carry On films) as the Martians ruthless leader Varga.
After proving popular with viewers the Ice Warriors returned to fight the 2ndDoctor again in The Seeds of Death (1969), taking control of a base on the Moon, they used the T-Mat to transport deadly seed pods to Earth in an attempt to terra form the planets atmosphere into one that would be more hospitable for the Martian invaders. This time Brian Hayles gave the Ice Warriors a new leader, the Ice Lord Slaar (Alan Bennion), and we also get a brief glimpse of his superior the Grand Marshall (Graham Leaman). This time the Doctor and Jamie, along with new companion Zoe (Wendy Padbury), have to find a way to stop the Ice Warriors and prevent the seed pods from destroying Earth’s atmosphere.
The Ice Warriors would be back a few years later to face the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee), in two more stories also scripted by Brian Hayles: The Curse of Peladon (1972), and The Monster of Peladon (1974). The Curse of Peladon saw the Doctor and Jo Grant (Katy Manning) visit King Peladon’s (David Troughton) cliff top citadel just as an important delegation is about to decide if his planet should to join the Galactic Federation. Here they encounter a bizarre group of alien delegates: Alpha Centauri, Arcturus, and the Martian Ice Lord Izlyr (Alan Bennion) and his Ice Warrior Ssorg (Sonny Caldinez). Together they must find a way to overcome their differences and prevent a coupe to overthrow the King, led by High Priest Hepesh (Geoffrey Toone), who has used the legend of the Beast of Agaddor to instigate an uprising to prevent Peladon joining the Federation.
What makes The Curse of Peladon so special is the way it depicts the Ice Warriors as diplomatic envoys to Peladon, having joined the Galactic Federation and abandoned their conquering ways. This is a brilliant move by Hayles, as is having Alan Bennion return, this time as the Ice Lord Izlyr. The Ice Warriors look really menacing as they stalk the torch lit halls of the citadel, for once the Doctor is forced into changing his views on an old enemy, and the Ice Warriors themselves are portrayed as a proud and noble race with honourable customs.
The Monster of Peladon (1974) was a direct sequel to The Curse of Peladon, set fifty years later, this time the 3rd Doctor and Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) have to help the late King Peladon’s daughter, Queen Thalira (Nina Thomas), solve what is behind the ghostly image of Agador that has been killing people in the planets trisilicate mines. It turns out that a rogue faction of Ice Warriors, led by Lord Azaxyr (played once more by Alan Bennion), want to steal the trisilicate and turn the tide of the Galactic Federations war with Galaxy 5 to their own advantage.
Although the same director (Lennie Mayne) and designer (Gloria Clayton) were appointed to try and replicate the look and feel of The Curse of Peladon, along with the return of Alpha Centauri (played once more by Stuart Fell & voiced by Ysanne Churchman) and Aggedor (with Nick Hobbs reprising his role as the Royal Beast), The Monster of Peladon isn’t as enjoyable as its predecessor. The Ice Warriors are as imposing as ever as they stalk the dark corridors, and Alan Bennion gives a great performance as the villainous Lord Azaxyr.
The Ice Warriors have remained one of Doctor Who’s most popular monsters, going on to appear in a wealth of comic strips, a number of excellent novels from the Virgin New Adventures and BBC Books range, as well as the immensely popular full cast audio adventures from Big Finish. Mission to Magnus, a story that would have seen the Ice Warriors return to fight the 6thDoctor (Colin Baker) never went into production when Season 23 was cancelled. This story was later adapted by Target books, and then Big Finish for release as part of their Lost Stories range, which also included Thin Ice, a 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) story featuring the Ice Warriors that could have formed part of Doctor Who’s 27th Season if the series hadn’t been cancelled in 1989.
Ever since the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) mentioned them in The Waters of Mars (2009), fans have been speculating about when the Ice Warriors would be back. Now the Ice Warriors will return in time to be part of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. The Ice Warriors scaly armoured form will no doubt get a fantastic update for the monsters return to our screens, along with their distinctive rasping voices, Series Seven is shaping up to one of the best yet!
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