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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors


Author: Brian Hayles
Read by: Frazer Hines
BBC Audio
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 4084 2670 8
Available 07 January 2010

The world is held in the grip of a second Ice Age, and faces total destruction from the rapidly advancing glaciers. The Doctor, with his companions Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield, lands at a top scientific base in England of the future, where scientists have just unearthed an ancient Ice Warrior. Aliens from Mars, preserved in the ice for centuries and now revitalised, the Ice Warriors feel ready to take over. Can the Doctor overcome these warlike Martians and halt the relentless approach of the glaciers...?

This isn’t the first time that Frazer Hines (alias Jamie McCrimmon) has narrated The Ice Warriors. In 2005, he provided the linking narration for the audio release of the television serial’s soundtrack. Now he reads the unabridged novelisation of the story, originally published by Target Books in 1976.

As with his voice-overs for BBC Audio’s soundtrack releases, Hines’s narration is sometimes a little over-the-top in its enthusiasm, especially at the beginning of the story when he practically shouts out the book’s title. He also fumbles a few lines, so that, for example, we are told about a Martian’s “fierth hiss” - was there no time for a retake? However, perhaps because of Hines’s familiarity with the television story, he does some good impersonations of several of the characters, including the scavenger Storr, the distinctive whisper of the Ice Warriors, and of course his famously and eerily accurate imitation of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor.

As for the novelisation itself, author Brian Hayles trims much of the fat from his own television scripts, especially from the later episodes, the screen versions of which are rather sluggish. Conversely, a great deal of attention is lavished upon the tense build-up of the first two instalments. As a result, material from the opening two episodes takes up the whole of the first two CDs (just over an hour each), while the remainder of the story passes swiftly during the final two discs.

Several of the characters benefit from additional back-stories and explorations of their inner thoughts and feelings, in particular Miss Garrett (here given the first name Jan), whose characterisation on screen is decidedly uneven (being variably defiant of and dependant on the pronouncements of Leader Clent and the base computer). A slightly different explanation is offered here by Clent for the onset of the new Ice Age, perhaps in light of more recent research, and the computer is given a name, ECCO (which caught on so well with fans that it is often incorrectly attributed to the computer in the television serial).

However, there’s still no explanation as to why Arden and his fellow scientists should believe that the frozen Varga might be an early human, when, even through a thick layer of ice, they can see that he is green. Perhaps they think that, despite being deep frozen, the centuries-old body has got a bit mouldy!

An improvement on the original six-part serial, Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors certainly won’t leave you cold - and neither will the new, lower price point!


Richard McGinlay

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Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors (Unabridged)
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