The Ice Warriors

IceWarrior
Ice Warriors

Recently I listened to the newly released BBC Audio adventure of the THE ICE WARRIORS, a Patrick Troughton (Second Doctor) story.

Many Patrick Troughton stories were badly hit by the BBC’s clearout of storage space, that took place in the 1970’s. Some stories were lost completely apart from their sound tracks (saved because of fans using readily available sound recording equipment of the time to record episode from the telly). “Ice Warriors” got off relatively lightly as only episodes 2 and 3 were lost of a six-part story. Thanks to the efforts of fans and enthusiasts inside and outside the BBC notably Mark Ayres, who did a great deal of restoration work on these sound tracks, the BBC is able to sell audio versions of the missing stories, with a surviving “star” of the show (in this case Frazer Hines) providing commentary of all the visual action that we would otherwise miss.

What makes “The Ice Warriors” particularly interesting and relevant is that it is set in a future Earth that is suffering from a catastrophic climate change (a new ice age) caused by the activities of mankind. But this situation is also extrapolated into a resulting anti-science sentiment. To quote one character Storr, a scavenger;

“Aye, helps me picture how it was before they killed off all the plants. There was Spring then, and flowers. You could pick the fruit off the trees. Now you rotten scientists … (and he explodes into a coughing fit)”

Unlike The Day After Tomorrow , which it predates by some years, this Doctor Who story actually considers how human attitudes to science might be effected by dramatic changes caused by technology.
It’s unfortunate that the predicted science of this episode seems totally wrong. The reason for the new ice age is right for the wrong reasons. To quote the Doctor: “A severe drop in the carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s lower atmosphere. Is that it?”
And then;

DOCTOR: Well the carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s atmosphere helps retain the suns heat. Take that gas away, and there’s a sudden freeze up.

JAMIE: Oh, where does the gas go to?

DOCTOR: Well …

CLENT (Scientist): (interrupting) You know how efficient our civilisation is, thanks to the direction of the great world computer. And you also know how we conquered the problem of world famine a century ago by artificial food. On the land that was once used to grow the food we needed, we built up to date living units, to house the ever-increasing population.
…So, the amount of growing plants on the planet, was reduced to an absolute minimum.

DOCTOR: No plants, no carbon dioxide.

Those pesky plants, if only we’d driven more cars and built more fossil fuel burning factories!

A final point: The CD contained a “Bonus Interview” with Frazer Hines in which the subject of “Lost” Patrick Troughton episodes came up. Hines described how he was doing a commentary for a Troughton story being released on DVD, when he mentioned how sad it was that so many episodes of Doctor Who and one in particular had been junked. A BBC staff member then rushed off to an archive somewhere in the BBC and recovered all the paperwork to do with the episode. As Hines said, “Isn’t it great, they can keep all the paperwork for an episode (because of its accounting significance) but they can’t manage to keep the actual episode!”



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