Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors by Brian Hayles

Published: March 1976

Edition Read: I read this at my mum and dad’s, therefore Allen Wingate hardback, 1976-all my references are however to my Target fifth reprint of 1984.

Coolest Cover: Chris Achilleos is absolutely fantastic here- there’s a reason why Galaxy Four are selling prints of it.

The BBC Budget Wouldn’t Run To: The sequence where Varga carries Victoria back to the Ice Warrior ship at night. There’s also a relish in the way Hayles describes the ice caverns and glaciers which couldn’t ever have been realised.

Purple Prose: A nice bit of deductive reasoning from the opening of Chapter 3: "The Doctor had been summoned to Clent’s meeting- but he hadn’t been told how to get there. Flustered and irritated, his brain almost bursting with the news of the terrible discovery, the Doctor turned a corner and found himself in the main reception hall. He paused, and took a deep breath. This sort of building must be like others of the period. If he could just mentally picture the architectural plans: music room ahead...next to that the ballroom or great hall...to the rear of the house, leading from the great hall...the library or study. The Doctor opened his eyes, his mind alert. The library-that was it!" (p.45)

Childhood Recollections: None specifically attached to this book, but I love the smell of an old ex-library hardback.

Ramblings: Probably my favourite so far, Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors is a particularly well-written and enjoyable adaptation. After adapting ‘The Curse of Peladon’ some two years previously as part of the range’s early focus on the highlights of the Pertwee era, it was logical for him to turn his attention next to the Ice Warriors’ debut story. Nothing much is changed from the original story- the sum total of all I noticed was that Miss Garrett wears glasses- instead Hayles concentrates on the strengths of the original script, character and situation. The four main incidental characters- Clent, Penley, Miss Garrett and Varga- are strongly delineated, as are their relationships with each other. From this comes the major achievement of the book, as the three humans are portrayed as adults who have disagreements about things like principles and careers, but it’s never portrayed in a patronising way or watered down. Clent is essentially a careerist civil servant who believes that the computer is always right, and his early scenes with Miss Garrett are dull precisely because they’ve become extensions of the computer. It’s also good that Hayles has left in the scene where Varga reproaches Victoria with Turoc’s death; while he may be a warrior with no reservations about killing, Varga’s principal concern and loyalty lies with his men. In a similar way, the stalemate between the humans afraid to use the Ioniser and the Ice Warriors unable to lift off is communicated with a real sense of urgency and again without writing down to a young readership. It’s no wonder with adaptations like this that Season 5 gained something of a false reputation as "the monster season"; arguably it never again produced anything quite so complex in its outlook. Also worth remembering that until about fifteen years ago, the book was all anybody had of ‘The Ice Warriors’, and it’s one of the few archive rediscoveries to come anything near its reputation. Strongly recommended, and not just as a substitute for the missing episodes.