Doctor Who - The Abominable Snowman
Doctor Who – The Abominable Snowman

The Abominable Snowman: Episode One

First Broadcast September 30th, 1967 @ 5.25pm (6.3m viewers)

The Yeti are a curious success in Doctor Who. Their name alludes to a mythical creature, not proven to truly exist. It’s appearance, particularly in this story, is more akin to a cuddly bear. But underneath that appearance is a vicious, evil creature found. Sadly their first appearance and this episode as a whole is no longer in the BBC’s archive so we cannot enjoy it. This is a particular shame in the case of the Yeti because the episode actually opens with them.

Doctor Who - The Abominable Snowman
Doctor Who – The Abominable Snowman

Given there is no footage remaining and very few telesnaps from the opening sequence it is difficult to confirm how much of the Yeti is revealed. The Target novelisation, written by legendary Doctor Who contributor and author Terrance Dicks, provides a clue. In classic Doctor Who tradition, the monster is not seen clearly. Instead, it is alluded to by screams, the damage caused to a rifle, left bent and twisted, and later by a large footprint discovered by the Doctor. The Time Lord is actually mistaken for the attacker with Professor Travers stating that the Yeti are too timid to have carried out such an attack. Jamie and Victoria would disagree with that conclusion.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
Doctor Who - The Abominable Snowman
Doctor Who – The Abominable Snowman

Continuing tradition the Yeti is finally revealed during the dramatic cliffhanger to this first episode. Trapping Jamie and Victoria in a cave with no means of escape, the Yeti lurks forward to attack. It’s huge frame and fearsome roar, famously created by recording the sound of a flushing toilet, must’ve been a frightening prospect when watching this episode on first viewing. Episode 2 of this adventure does still remain in the BBC archives and features footage of the cliffhanger’s resolution. The terror, ferocity and seemingly unstoppable nature of the Yeti cemented their place in the cavalcade of popular Doctor Who monsters. Such was their success they would return a mere three stories later in ‘The Web of Fear’.

‘The Abominable Snowmen’ benefitted greatly from the location shooting, with Snowdonia’s hillside in North Wales doubling for Tibet. Location filming had occurred quite frequently on Doctor Who, most notably on ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. However, there’s little doubt that the beautiful Welsh mountains contribute greatly to this story’s place as a lost classic. Shots of the Yeti chasing Jamie and Victoria down the hillside are stunning and evocative of this iconic ‘monster era’ period in Doctor Who’s history. Luckily Episode 2 provides this tantalising glimpse at ‘The Abominable Snowman’ and the debut of the Yeti.

Cast

The Doctor – Patrick Troughton
Jamie – Frazer Hines
Victoria – Deborah Watling
Khrisong – Norman Jones
Padmasambhava – Wolfe Morris
Ralpachan – David Baron
Rinchen – David Grey
Sapan – Raymond Llewellyn
Songsten – Charles Morgan
Thonmi – David Spenser
Travers – Jack Watling
Yeti – Reg Whitehead
Yeti – Tony Harwood
Yeti – Richard Kerley
Yeti – John Hogan

Crew

Director – Gerald Blake
Producer – Innes Lloyd
Writer – Mervyn Haisman
Writer – Henry Lincoln

Also First Aired On This Day…
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