This story has been described as ‘a massive adventure story written by the one-and-only Mark Gatiss’. It sees one of the most memorable and menacing aliens ever to send us scurrying behind the sofa return to Doctor Who as we get to see the return of the mighty Ice Warriors to the show for 39 years and the first not written or co-written by Brian Hayles.
It’s no secret that Mark Gatiss was keen to bring the Martians back and he has described their appearance as being a ‘design classic’. Their hissing voices are equally evocative and then there’s the mystery that they are sometimes enemies and sometimes allies of The Doctor.
It has been reported that Steven Moffat was originally hesitant to bring back the Ice Warriors, worrying that they were seen as ‘the default condition for what people thought of as rubbish Doctor Who monsters - things that moved very, very slowly and spoke in a way that meant you couldn't hear a word they said’.
Mark Gatiss, however, was a fan of the Ice Warriors stories and had been campaigning to bring them back. He felt that the Ice Warriors had a lot of gaps in their timeline and because they had not been featured for a while this allowed a lot of room to explore them.
In a phone conversation with Steven Moffat, that was originally supposed to be about their show Sherlock, Mark Gatiss pitched new and ‘very clever ideas’ of what to do with the Ice Warriors, and Steven Moffat agreed.
This is Mark Gatiss’ fifth Doctor Who television script. His previous stories being: "The Unquiet Dead", "The Idiot's Lantern", "Victory of the Daleks" and "Night Terrors". Mark Gatiss has stated ‘The fact it's an historical story makes me feel old (you'll soon see why). The fact that the adventure is set where it is, is the fulfilment of a long-term dream. Not to mention that it guest stars the amazing Liam Cunningham and the legendary David Warner. And who knows what may be menacing them...?’.
David Warner, who plays the part of Professor Grisenko, has appeared in countless films, including The Omen, Tron and Titanic, and has played the part of The Doctor in the Big Finish Productions Unbound audio story "Sympathy for the Devil". He also provided the voice of the villainous Lord Azlok in the animated adventure "Dreamland".
Liam Cunningham has stared in the hit US drama Game of Thrones, while other television work includes Cracker and Shooting the Past.
The voice of Skaldak is provided by Nicholas Briggs whose vocal talents have brought many aliens - including Daleks, Cybermen and the Judoon – to life. The Ice Warrior - as seen in his fully-armoured state - is played by Spencer Wilding who previously appeared as the Minotaur in "The God Complex" and the Wooden King in the 2011Christmas special "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe".
This story has been directed by Douglas Mackinnon whose previous credits include "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky" and "The Power of Three".
Armed with lethal sonic technology, the reptilian warmongers first tangled with The Doctor in the 1967 Second Doctor story "The Ice Warriors", returning two years later when they attempted an invasion of Earth in "The Seeds of Death". These two stories established the Ice Warriors as a proud but cruel race, ruthless and relentless when pursuing their goal, which in both instances had been the planet Earth.
The Third Doctor then encountered them in the 1972 story "The Curse of Peladon". By this stage they had largely reformed, renouncing their militaristic ways and eschewing violence except in cases of self-defence. Their code of honour came to the fore and they even joined forces with The Doctor. But a rogue faction of Ice Warriors threatened The Doctor in the 1974 story "The Monster of Peladon" - showing that their old war-like tendencies had not been entirely eradicated.
The Ice Warriors are traditionally seen as one of the show’s Big Four pantheon of monsters – along with the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Sontarans. Since the shows revival in 2005 they have so far only had a brief mention in the 2009 Tenth Doctor story "The Waters of Mars". They were also glimpsed very briefly in a flashback sequence during The Sarah Jane Adventures story "Death of The Doctor".
As "Cold War" is the first televised appearance of the Ice Warriors in thirty-nine years (since "The Monster of Peladon"), they have the third-longest length between televised antagonist appearances. The Great Intelligence was the first at forty-four years and the Macra were second at forty years.
Unlike some other returning monsters, the Ice Warriors were not heavily redesigned for this story. Mark Gatiss insisted upon keeping the fundamentals of the original and Steven Moffat explained that the original design was not well-known enough to put a new spin on it, and so it is just a ‘super-version of the original’.
Of the original design, Millennium FX's Neill Gorton has revealed, ‘My problem with the old ones is they had Lego hands and weird, spindly arms but a bulky body and these strange saddlebag hips, almost feminine. They had fur sticking out everywhere. So all of that together didn't suggest ice warriors. They should be much beefier and stronger. We gave it more of a bodybuilder physique, changed the hands and styled the body to make it look more like armour-plating, even though it's reptilian’. The costume was made of flexible urethane rubber instead of the fibreglass like the original, as it would damage less easily and be more comfortable to wear. The costume was also made to specially fit Spencer Wilding who played the part of Skaldak.
The read through for this story took place in Cardiff on Wednesday 6th June 2012. Recording began exactly one week later on the 13th June.
The portrayal of the Ice Warriors as ‘cyborgs’ is an innovation of this story.
The Martians seldom use the expression Ice Warriors. In fact it wasn’t until "The Monster of Peladon" (over half a decade after their debut) that we hear them refer to themselves using these exact words.
This is the first time an Ice Warrior has been seen out of its body armour on television, but it's not the first time fans have been able to peek behind the armour. Skaldak's true face is remarkably similar, allowing for a difference in gender, to Lee Sullivan's depiction of the female Ice Warrior Luass in the Eighth Doctor comic story "Ascendance". However, the more tentacle-like hands of Skeldak are less compatible with Luass' human-like hands.
The existence of powerful female Ice Warriors, Skaldak's rank as the leader of a caste and the general implication that Ice Warriors have a feudal sense of honour originate not with Ice Warrior creator Brian Hayles but instead with Gary Russell's reinvention in Virgin Book’s The New Adventures novel "Legacy" and the comic strip "Ascendance/Descendance".
This story features some similarities to "The Ice Warriors". Both involve an Ice Warrior being frozen in ice, being found by a scientist, and then thawed out by someone who was impatient. Both scientists mistake their Ice Warriors for prehistoric Earth creatures. In "The Ice Warriors" it is a mastodon while in "Cold War" it is a mammoth. Both take place in extreme cold. Both have The Doctor initially saving a team of humans from an immediate crisis - in "The Ice Warriors" is an uncontrolled weather event while in "Cold War" it is a sinking submarine.
This story's ending also has some similarities to the 1989 Seventh Doctor story "Battlefield". In both stories the antagonist is prepared to launch a nuclear weapon to destroy the world (in "Battlefield" it is Morgaine), and in both cases The Doctor helps talk them out of it.
The submarine setting was Mark Gatiss's idea and Executive Producer Caroline Skinner described the story as ‘Letting a huge Ice Warrior loose at the heart of a classic Hunt For Red October style submarine movie’.
The Doctor and Clara Oswald were originally planning on going to Las Vegas.
The track Professor Grisenko is enjoying at the start of the story is Vienna by Ultravox that reached number 2 in the UK charts back in 1981. The song he later recommends to Clara is Hungry Like the Wolf, a 1982 hit for Duran Duran.
When The Doctor rattles off a list of possible reasons he could give to explain his presence on the submarine to Captain Zhukov, he blurts out, ‘No pretending to be an Earth ambassador’. In "The Curse of Peladon" The Doctor said this to explain his unexpected appearance in the Peladon citadel.
On emptying his pockets it is revealed that The Doctor has a Barbie-style doll with long blonde hair.
Piotr is heard to call Skaldak ‘Milaya moya’. This is a Russian term of affection and translates as ‘my sweet’.
The TARDIS vanishes because The Doctor had reset the HADS – a safety protocol that stands for Hostile Action Displacement System. The Doctor is heard to say that it had not been used in ‘donkey's years’. This is true in terms of televised stories as the only other televised reference to this device is in the 1968/69 Second Doctor story "The Krotons". It has though made several appearances in other media including as recently as the Big Finish Productions audio story "The Girl Who Never Was". Perhaps the most notorious use of the HADS was in the novelisation of "Time and The Rani", where Pip and Jane Baker blame the Sixth Doctor's tepid regeneration on the fact that the he didn't set the HADS and therefore failed to prevent the ‘tumultuous buffeting’ of the TARDIS that resulted in his regeneration into the Seventh Doctor.
In "The Krotons" the TARDIS just dematerialised to avoid an intended onslaught, before reappearing at a nearby location. But in this story the TARDIS re-materialised at the South Pole – the soviet submarine that it materialised in was under the ice at the North Pole resulting in an amusing scene at the end of the story where The Doctor asks the submarine’s captain for a lift.
The interior of the TARDIS is not seen in this story.
For the submarine setting the cast were sprayed with water between every take.
All the camera shots featuring the exterior of the submerged submarine were made using scale models, created by Mike Tucker and his team, in front of a blue screen rather than CGI. This marks the first use of models for effects in the new series. Models have been used occasionally since the beginning of the revived series. Notably, the destruction of the Nestene base of operations, in the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "Rose".
The Doctor's sonic screwdriver displays a red diode setting when he threatens to blow up the Soviet submarine. He previously received a modified sonic screwdriver from River Song in his tenth incarnation with a red setting of its own in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".
When Clara states that Earth was not destroyed by nuclear war in 1983, The Doctor tells her that time is in flux and can be rewritten (see also "Pyramids of Mars", "The Unquiet Dead", "The Shakespeare Code", "The Waters of Mars" and "The Wedding of River Song").
The Doctor again shows admiration for Ice Warriors by their code of honour ("The Waters of Mars"). Contrary to his seventh incarnation, who showed a xenophobic distrust towards them ("Legacy").
The Doctor, at one point, tells Clara to stay where she is, to which she says ‘okay’. The Doctor then tells her not to argue and she replies that she won't. The Doctor stops in his tracks almost shocked that she actually obeyed him. He once said that in 900 years of time travel that would be the only thing that surprised him ("The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances").
Clara is heard to question how she is able to understand the Russians, and they can understand her, to which The Doctor explains how the TARDIS translates foreign and alien languages (see also "The Masque of Mandragora", "The End of the World" and "The Fires of Pompeii").
This story contains a number of errors. Namely: When ever Skaldak walks anywhere in armour, he makes loud clunking noises due to the weight of the armour, but when Skaldak approaches The Doctor near the beginning of the story, he arrives silently. Although these are inconsistent, the earlier silence is most likely intentional, to allow The Doctor's comic reactions; When Skaldak is electrocuted by a crewman, the electricity should have travelled through the water that he and the rest of the characters were standing in.
The first appearance of an Ice Warrior, in the revived television series, and for 39 years - since the 1974 Third Doctor story "The Monster of Peladon".
The first time an Ice Warrior has been seen out of its body armour on television.
The first portrayal of the Ice Warriors as being ‘cyborgs’.
The first Eleventh Doctor story where the interior of the TARDIS is not seen.