Thursday, 11 January 2018
Inspirations - The Ice Warriors
This story was written by Brian Hayles, his third contribution to the show. It marks the debut of the Martian Ice Warriors, and he will revisit these aliens in all of his subsequent scripts.
When it comes to inspirations, we should begin with the one that he himself quoted when interviewed about this adventure.
Over the preceding decades, a number of well-preserved mammoths had been found in Siberia, and Hayles speculated about something being found entombed in ice which might still be alive - frozen into suspended animation. In the script for Part One, when the scientists come across Varga's body, Arden mentions that it might be yet another mastodon. Although related and contemporary, mammoths and mastodons are quite separate species. The creatures being uncovered in Siberia were specifically woolly mammoths. In 1951, the Explorers Club annual dinner claimed to have mammoth meat on the menu. Some of the leftovers were saved by a museum, and scientists carried out DNA tests a couple of years ago, which revealed that it was in fact the meat from a green sea turtle.
Science Fiction fans will have spotted a much more obvious inspiration. The same year that the Explorers Club was having a joke with its members, the movie The Thing From Another World was released. Based on the story Who Goes There?, by John W Campbell, the film sees a US military expedition rendezvous with some scientists at a base in the Arctic. The scientists have tracked the fall of a UFO, and they find a spaceship buried under the ice. Its pilot has been thrown free, and lies entombed in the ice nearby. It is taken to the base where it thaws out, and goes on the rampage.
In The Ice Warriors, we see Varga frozen in the ice and taken to Britannicus Base, where power packs being employed to melt the ice cause him to reanimate.
Varga informs Victoria, whom he has abducted, that he hails from the Red Planet - i.e. Mars. Aliens from Mars had long been a Sci-Fi cliche. There are numerous films of the 1950's which show Mars as the homeground for invaders - most famously Invaders From Mars (1953), funnily enough. Of course, H G Wells had made Mars the home for his invaders in The War of the Worlds, published in 1898, and made into a movie also in 1953.
Mars was generally the go-to planet for invaders due to its proximity to Earth, and due to the widely held theory that there were visible signs of occupation - such as an extensive canal network. That visitors from the Red Planet would almost certainly be belligerent probably hails from the fact that Mars was the Roman God of War.
The Ice Warriors are reptilian, and very tall. They are also green. The term "little green men" was another of those Sci-Fi cliches that derived from real UFO reports of the 1950's. In 1955, when journalists reported on the Kelly-Hopkinsville sighting in Kentucky, they used the phrase, and it sort of stuck. The men who reported the sighting actually described them as little metallic-silver men, and not green at all. For the last few decades, grey has become the colour of aliens.
Throughout their time on the show, the race have been called Ice Warriors, which is how the scientist Arden describes the frozen Varga. Hayles had originally intended the aliens to be humanoid and dressed like Vikings, but with electronic implants. It was Martin Baugh, costume designer, who decided to make them look like armoured reptiles. One of his inspirations was the Egyptian Crocodile Warriors seen in the Burton-Taylor film Cleopatra (1963).
In his next Ice Warrior story - at least as it was before Terrance Dicks virtually rewrote it - Hayles gave a name to his creations: Saurians.
The Ioniser base seems to be named after the son of the Emperor Claudius, in whose reign Britain was invaded and conquered by the Romans. (Julius Caesar had Veni'd, Vidi'd, but not Vici'd a few decades before). On Claudius' death in 54 AD, Nero became Emperor, and Britannicus was poisoned a few months later - supposedly in February 55 around the time of his 14th birthday.
The story is set in the middle of an Ice Age - which led to indignant schoolchildren writing to the Radio Times and to the Doctor Who production office. The implication was that there had been one Ice Age thousands of years ago, and this was the second. There have been five recognised Ice Ages - or glacial periods - the most recent being the Quatenary, which ended around 10,000 years ago. We are currently in an interglacial period - known as the Holocene. Ice Ages can be subdivided further as there are localised events, such as the Riss and Wurm.
Musically, one of Dudley Simpson's inspirations appears to be the soundtrack to the 1948 film Scott of the Antarctic. In 1952, Ralph Vaughn Williams used this as the basis for his Sinfonia Antartica.
This is another of those linked stories, which we discussed a couple of posts ago. Much of the first half of the Troughton era sees back to back stories, with no unseen adventures in between. Here, when the TARDIS first arrives, Jamie suspects that the Doctor has simply landed them "further down the mountain" - implying the mountain in Tibet overlooking Detsen Monastery, and the Doctor just happens to be wearing the same heavy fur coat. Victoria also wears the same outfit as the last screened story.
Victoria disappears early in the final episode - sent to wait in the TARDIS by the Doctor. This is because Debbie Watling had requested an early departure on the day of recording, so her scenes were done in the afternoon. When reminded about this in an interview in the 1980's, she could not recall the circumstances.
Next time: It is Patrick Troughton's turn to have an evil double, as we embark on a globe-trotting Spy-Fi adventure. A new name arrives behind the camera - one who will have a significant impact on the future development of the programme...