Written by Brian Hayles
Directed by Derek Martinus
There are many reasons that one might use to argue that the classic British Carry On film series was not all that good. The women were objectified, the jokes were predictable and the racial stereotypes were downright insulting. Despite this, for many British people, myself included, they are a beloved part of childhood and a pleasant reminder of a simpler time when the word bum could make you laugh ‘till milk squirted out your nose. Some of them are even respected, with Carry on up the Khyber making it onto the BFI’s list of 100 most important British films of all time. Although most of the Carry on Team are best known for their appearances in the bawdy film series, some of them did actually have the occasional job in something else. Given the sheer number of them, the number of British actors at the time, and the fact the Doctor Who was putting out an episode almost every week, it should not surprising that every so often they would share the odd actor. Both William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee appeared in Carry on films before going on to play the Doctor. Bernard Bresslaw of course, almost had a whole second career, probably mostly due to his outlandish height, playing various monster and giants. Later, he would go on to have roles in awesome low budget ‘80s fantasy films like Krull, and Hawk the Slayer, but back in the 60s his best known monster was probably Varga, the head Ice Warrior in Doctor Who.
Sadly, he doesn’t make a crude innuendo about the size of the earth people’s weapon, Victoria’s chest or what Jamie might keep under his kilt. The Meddling Monk doesn’t even turn up so that the two of them can make dumb fart jokes. In fact, it’s fair to say that Breslaw actually was an actor, and not simply a smut reading innuendo monkey, which was all it really took to be on the Carry on team. His performance as Varga probably would have been pretty chilling, if it wasn’t for the lame costume, that made the ice warriors look like fat-arsed middle aged women attending an aerobics class for people embarrassed by their chronic skin conditions. Indeed, the audio only episodes are probably the most atmospheric.
In many ways the Ice Warriors epitomise everything that was bad about Doctor Who villains at the time. They were slow moving, looked pants, had no real motive, and you needed a decoder ring to figure out what they were saying. Despite this, I’m actually quite fond of them. They’ve had more threatening stories than this one, but no matter how lame they are, they’re still better than the yeti.
After making a bit of progress in earlier episodes, sadly Victoria is mostly back to screaming and waiting to be saved. The most courageous thing she does in this story is probably to tell Jamie that she doesn’t want to wear a short skirt. which is fair enough, but hardly anything to write home about. Jamie and the Doctor are on their usual good form, but even they can’t stop this six episoder from dragging on a bit.
Since the Daleks had gone (supposedly for good) Who had been struggling a bit for villians. When they Cybermen is the best ya got, you know you have a problem. Perhaps what was really needed was a fantastic actor to play the bad guy. Doctor Who already had a fantastic actor on the regular cast, why not get him to do it? Yeah. Why not. What could possibly go wrong with that?