The Ice Warriors: One

First Broadcast November 11th, 1967 @ 5.10pm (6.7m viewers)

Season 5 of Doctor Who is regarded as the very definition of the show’s ‘monster era’. Over seven stories the Doctor and his companions would encounter the Cybermen (twice), the Yeti (twice), a weed creature and a villain who looked like The Doctor himself. In addition to the debuts of the Yeti, the weed creature and Salamander, another debutant would take its bow; The Ice Warriors. Although technically Martians the nickname ‘Ice Warriors’ stuck. Their eye-catching design and unique look proved popular. They would subsequently reappear in Doctor Who on numerous occasions, battling Patrick Troughton’s incarnation once more and most recently in 2013’s ‘Cold War’.

Ice Warriors - Doctor Who (c) BBC
Ice Warriors – Doctor Who (c) BBC

Their creator Brian Hayles was inspired by the discovery of a mammoth in the early 20th Century that had been perfectly preserved within a frozen block of ice. Hayles constructed a narrative beginning with the discovery of a creature deep within a glacier. Mark Gatiss would replicate this for his contribution to Ice Warrior mythology in ‘Cold War’. Following tradition, the closing moments of the episode would see the creature revealed…

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

The cliffhanger reveals the Ice Warrior for the first time. However, it differs slightly from what we would later consider to be their standard form. Filming began at Ealing film studios, largely for the sequences set outside the base and requiring Ice Warrior. The first Warrior constructed consisted of a large helmet closer to the Viking inspiration mentioned in the dialogue and clearly seen in the final shot for the credits. The chin is more exposed with fur either side of the mouth. By the time actor, Bernard Bresslaw joined the production for the studio sessions at Lime Grove the helmets had been redesigned and could be seen in the second episode. Sleeker, with smaller eyes and the chin now concealed behind an all-encompassing helmet, this would form the Ice Warriors that we would become more familiar with. Yet, in this first appearance, the Martian is noticeably different.

Clent – head of the Brittanicus Base - Doctor Who - The Ice Warriors c) BBC
Clent – head of the Brittanicus Base – Doctor Who – The Ice Warriors c) BBC

The strong design of the story is not limited to the Ice Warriors themselves. The futuristic costume designs for example, complete with plastic visors. Similarly, the set design with futuristic equipment within a Victorian house, gives the story a wonderful visual signature. Filling these attractive sets is an impressive cast of characters. Peter Barkworth delivers an excellent performance as Leader Clent. The exchanges between Clent and The Doctor in this opening episode are highly entertaining and the science behind the ioniser sound plausible. Further, acting support comes from Peter Sallis, famous for his role in ‘The Last of the Summer Wine’ and being the voice of Wallace for Aardman Animations.

Ice Warriors - Doctor Who (c) BBC
Ice Warriors – Doctor Who (c) BBC

‘The Ice Warriors’ is probably a bit long at six episodes but it features a memorable monster, strong actors and an impressive design. It is a perfect example of one of Doctor Who’s most iconic eras. The base under siege. The monster era. The dynamic of Troughton, Hines and Watling. It is Doctor Who at it’s very best.


Doctor Who – Patrick Troughton
Jamie – Frazer Hines
Victoria – Deborah Watling
Clent – Peter Barkworth
Penley -Peter Sallis
Varga – Bernard Bresslaw


Director – Derek Martinus
Producer – Innes Lloyd
Writer – Brian Hayles

Also First Aired On This Day…

  • The Stones of Blood: Part Three


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