BBC Doctor Who - The Stories BBC
QuickNav to a Season: 
QuickNav to a Story: 
 
The Previous Story
Empress of Mars
 The Previous Story
The Previous Story
(The Lie of the Land)
 The Next Story
(The Eaters of Light)
Season
Details
SynopsisGeneral
Information
The
Episodes
Audience
Appreciation
ArchivesNotesFirst and LastThe PlotQuote of
the Story
Release
Information
In PrintPhoto
Gallery
 

Peter Capaldi
Empress of Mars
Twelfth Doctor Logo


Synopsis


Ice Warriors
Ice Warriors
 The Doctor, Bill and Nardole arrive on Mars and find themselves in an impossible conflict between Ice Warriors and Victorian soldiers.

 As the Martian hive awakes around them, The Doctor faces a unique dilemma - this time the humans, not the Ice Warriors are the invaders.

 When Earth is invading Mars, whose side is he on?

Source: Radio Times


General Information

Season: Thirty Six (New Series 10)
Production Code: 10-9
Story Number: 272 (New Series: 116)
Episode Number:836 (New Series: 140)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: January - February 2017
Broadcast Date: 10 June 2017
Colour Status: HD Colour
Studio: BBC Wales (Roath Lock Studios, Cardiff)
Location:
Writer:Mark Gatiss
Director:Wayne Yip
Producer:Nikki Wilson
Executive Producers:Brian Minchin and Steven Moffat
Assistant Directors:Lauren Pate and Rhun Llewelyn
Script Executive:Lindsey Alford
Script Supervisor:Nicki Coles
Script Editors:Nick Lambon and Emma Genders (Assistant)
Editors:Edel McDonnell, Becky Trotman (Assistant) and David Davies (Assistant)
Head of Production:Gordon Ronald
Production Executive:Tracie Simpson
Production Manager:Adam Knopf
Production Assistants:Jamie Shaw, Ruby Jennick and Virginia Bonet
Post Production Supervisor:Samantha Price
Production Designer:Michael Pickwoad
Director of Photography:Stuart Biddlecombe
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG
Line Producer:Steffan Morris
Costume Designer:Hayley Nebauer
Make-Up Designer:Barbara Southcott
Cameramen:Dan Patounas (Assistant), Drew Marsden (Assistant), Gethin Williams (Assistant) and Mark McQuoid (Operator)
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Harry Barnes
Sound Recordist:Deian Llyr Humphreys
Visual Effects:BBC Wales VFX and MILK
Special Effects:Real SFX
Prosthetics:Millennium FX
Special Creature Effects:Millennium FX
Stunt Co-ordinator:Crispin Layfield
Stunt Performers:Andrew Burford, James O'Daly, Jonny James and Troy Kenchington
Title Sequence:Billy Hanshaw
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Ice Warriors Created By: Brian Hayles
Alpha Centauri Created By: Brian Hayles
Music Performed By: The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Music Conducted and Orchestrated By: Alastair King
Music Mixed By: Jake Jackson
Music Recorded By: Gerry O'Riordan
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi (The Twelfth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 2The Companions: Matt Lucas (Nardole) and Pearl Mackie (Bill Potts) Guest Cast: Michelle Gomez (Missy) Additional Cast: Anthony Calf (Godsacre), Ferdinand Kingsley (Catchlove), Richard Ashton (Friday), Adele Lynch (Iraxxa), Glenn Speers (Sergeant Major Peach), Ian Beattie (Jackdaw), Bayo Gbadamosi (Vincey), Ian Hughes (Knibbs), Lesley Ewen (Coolidge) , Ysanne Churchman (Voice of Alpha Centauri)Setting: Mars (1881) Villains:Neville Catchlove and The Ice Warriors

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
836Empress of Mars10 June 201743'48"5.0Yes

Total Duration 44 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 5.0
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2017)75.70%  (Position = 3 out of 12)


Archives


 This story exists and is held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.



Return to the top of this page
 


Notes


This story marks the return of The Ice Warriors, who were last seen in the 2013 Eleventh Doctor story "Cold War", that was also written by Mark Gatiss. The Doctor, Nardole and Bill travel to Mars, but upon arrival, they find themselves in the middle of a conflict between Ice Warriors and Victorian soldiers.

This story is notable for introducing the first on-screen female Ice Warrior, the Ice Queen Iraxxa, 50 years since this alien race were introduced in the 1967 Second Doctor story "The Ice Warriors".

Chronologically this story partly sets up events of the 1972 Third Doctor story "The Curse of Peladon", showing The Doctor introducing the Ice Warriors to Alpha Centauri, a representative of the Galactic Federation, which The Ice Warriors have joined by the time of that story.

This is Mark Gatiss' ninth television story since the show was revived in 2005. His previous story was "Sleep No More" in 2015. Aside from starring in the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "The Lazarus Experiment" he is one of the few people to have written for the Ninth Doctor ("The Unquiet Dead"), the Tenth Doctor ("The Idiot’s Lantern"), the Eleventh Doctor ("Victory of the Daleks") and the Twelfth Doctor ("Robot of Sherwood" and "Sleep No More"). Despite having penned so many popular stories in the past he is on record as saying that "Empress of Mars" is the story he always wanted to write!

Mark Gatiss explained on The Aftershow that this story began as a sequel to the 2015 story "Sleep No More" (also written by Mark Gatiss) and referenced in the line delivered by the Ice Empress exhorting her warriors to ‘sleep no more’.

It later turned into an Ice Warrior story, and was intended as a third Peladon-story, with the story set on the planet Peladon rather than Mars, hence the return of Alpha Centauri after 43 years.

This story saw the return of two actors from the original series: Ysanne Churchman, reprising the role of Alpha Centauri for the first time since in the 1974 Third Doctor story "The Monster of Peladon", and Anthony Calf, who last appeared, as Charles, in the 1982 Fifth Doctor story "The Visitation".

At the age of 92 Ysanne Churchman is the oldest actor to appear in the show since it was revived in 2005. To keep the reappearance of Alpha Centauri a surprise, Ysanne Churchman was not credited in the Radio Times nor on the Doctor Who website.

Guest star Ferdinand Kingsley, who played the part of Catchlove, was currently co-starring with Jenna Coleman in the ITV series Victoria.

It has been revealed that Ian McNeice was originally in talks to appear as Winston Churchill in this story, but this idea was dropped when it was realised that you could not fit a 20th century-individual into the 1881-set story.

The read through for this story took place on the 11th January 2017. Recording began on the 27th January 2017, as part of Block Six along with the previous story "The Lie of the Land", and was completed on the 22nd February 2017.

The Doctor’s old friend, Alpha Centauri, returns to our screens for the first time in 43 years! Alpha Centauri was previously seen in the Third Doctor stories "The Curse of Peladon" (in 1972) and "The Monster of Peladon" (in 1974).

Peach is heard to say ‘RHIP’. Long-time fans of the show would already know what these four letters stand for. In the 1972 Third Doctor story "Day of the Daleks", Jo Grant sneaks some night-time provisions to a ‘famished’ Sergeant Benton. Before he can tuck into them his superior, Captain Mike Yates, arrives and reprimands Sergeant Benton telling him to go and check on a patrol. When Sergeant Benton has disappeared Captain Mike Yates thanks Jo Grant for the food and tells her, ‘RHIP, Jo’. Not understanding what he means she replies, ‘Pardon? ’ and he explains, ‘Rank has its privileges’.

2017 was the fiftieth anniversary of The Ice Warriors who first appeared in the 1967 Second Doctor story "The Ice Warriors". This six-part story was an immediate hit and The Ice Warriors returned 13 months later in "The Seeds of Death". They next encountered The Doctor in the 1972 Third Doctor story "The Curse of Peladon". In that story we learnt the Martian race had become peaceful and was intent on seeing justice done throughout the universe. Two years later, however, we saw a faction of The Ice Warriors had returned to their old, evil ways in "The Monster of Peladon". Then, after a gap of almost four decades, The Ice Warriors then returned in the 2013 Eleventh Doctor story "Cold War" written by Mark Gatiss.

The first Ice Warrior seen in this story is called Friday. He is named after Man Friday from Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

It is revealed that the Ice Warriors have been sleeping in cryogenic cells and, along with Friday and Iraxxa, have been in hibernation for 5,000 years. The Doctor had previously encountered the Grand Marshall Ice Warrior Skaldak on Earth in 1983 who had also been in hibernation for 5,000 years in the 2013 Eleventh Doctor story "Cold War". The descendants of Iraxxa's hive, which had woken up from hibernation and ‘joined the universe’ 102 years prior, are most likely the Ice Warriors who piloted the spaceship which rescued Skaldak from Earth.

The Doctor refers to events in this story as being the beginning of a ‘Martian Golden Age’.

Friday promised the Victorian soldiers gemstones, silver, gold and other kinds of treasures.

Catchlove is heard to say that the British Army is more than a match to ‘upright crocodiles’. He also tells Iraxxa to ‘call off her dogs’.

The Doctor again greets The Ice Warriors with ‘by the Moons, I honour thee’. The Doctor uses the same formal salutation to Friday as Clara Oswald used for Skaldak in "Cold War", when he instructed her how to great the Martian Marshall.

The Doctor has previously dealt with Daleks who, like Friday, appear to have become subservient to humans after having been rescued, only to have a secret agenda of reviving more of their race (see the 1966 Second Doctor "The Power of the Daleks" and the 2010 Eleventh Doctor story "Victory of the Daleks").

The Doctor has visited the remains of an Ice Warrior civilisation before in the 2009 Tenth Doctor story "The Waters of Mars". In that story The Doctor also met a group of human colonists as well. This event took place in 2059 hence why he indicated to Bill that there weren't any humans on Mars in Victorian times but he remembered the events in 2059.

Discounting flashbacks this story sees Missy out of her vault for the first time in this season. A large part of this season arc revolved around The Doctor and Nardole guarding the vault to make sure that she did not escape. However, in this story Nardole it seems is forced to allow Missy to pilot the TARDIS so as to rescue The Doctor and Bill.

Missy's Theme is heard playing, during her reveal inside the TARDIS, for the first time since Season Thirty Four (New Series 8).

Nardole knows how to pilot the TARDIS (see "The Return of Doctor Mysterio") though in this story it seems that she is not co-operating.

The TARDIS again pilots herself autonomously (see "The Doctor's Wife" and "Hide"). This time the TARDIS pilots herself back to The Doctor's office in St Luke's University.

The Doctor complains that his sonic screwdriver still has ‘no setting for wood’, a defect first mentioned in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead". This is also mentioned in "The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood", "Night Terrors", "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" and "In the Forest of the Night". In the 2014 story "In the Forest of the Night " The Doctor is heard telling Maebh ‘It interacts with any form of communication you care to mention. Sadly, trees have no moving parts and don’t communicate’. And in the 2011 Eleventh Doctor story "Night Terrors" (also written by Mark Gatiss) The Doctor is heard telling Alex ‘I’ve got to invent a setting for wood. It’s embarrassing’.

The Doctor previously dealt with another mission to Mars by British explorers (see the 1970 Third Doctor story "The Ambassadors of Death"), as well as a UK space probe to the red planet (see the 2005 Tenth Doctor story "The Christmas Invasion").

A number of films are mentioned in this story. Bill mentions The Terminator, The Doctor though confirms that he has never seen any of the Terminator movies but he has heard of the movie Frozen. Bill also compares the underground tunnels to those in the The Thing. Both The Doctor and Bill mention the film The Vikings and upon the discovery of the Ice Empress' tomb, The Doctor is heard to say ‘I've got a bad feeling about this’. This line, and variations of it, has become a recurring phrase in the Star Wars franchise since the first Star Wars film A New Hope back in 1977.

‘I never want to see red again in all my puff’. The expression ‘in all my puff’ means ‘in all my life’ with the word ‘puff’ doubling for ‘life’ due to its connection with ‘breath’. This word has been used informally in this sense by writers as varied as PG Wodehouse and James Joyce. The phrase was also heard in the 1977 Fourth Doctor story "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". When a corpse was pulled from the Thames, in the first episode, a horrified woman watching the scene comments ‘Never seen anything like it in all my puff!’ before colourfully adding ‘Make an ’orse sick, that would!’.

This is not the first story to take place in 1881. Back on Earth in that year, the First Doctor was brushing shoulders with legends like Wyatt Earp, Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday in the 1966 story "The Gunfighters".

The British Army have a portrait of Queen Victoria with them on Mars and they aimed to claim Mars in her name. This is an image of Pauline Collins, who first appeared in the 1967 Second Doctor story "The Faceless Ones". This image is taken from her 2006 appearance as Queen Victoria in the Tenth Doctor story "Tooth and Claw".

One of the soldiers is heard singing ‘She Was Poor But She Was Honest’, an English music hall song recorded in 1930 by Billy Bennett.

Jackdaw is heard to use the expression ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’. This statement refers to a young girl, called Fanny Adams, who was murdered in 1867 by solicitor's clerk Frederick Baker in Alton, Hampshire. The expression ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, or ‘Sweet FA’, refers to her and has come, through British naval slang, to mean ‘Nothing at all’.

The Doctor told Friday that he was an Honorary Guardian of the Tythonian Hive (see the 1979 Fourth Doctor story "The Creature from the Pit").

The Doctor remarks on how he can not resist a countdown. He previously said a similar thing of The Master in the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords".

Bill mentions Neil Armstrong and the 1969 moon landing. She is seen pointing out a photograph of Neil Armstrong on the wall of NASA. The Doctor states that Neil Armstrong was not the ‘first man on the Moon’. The Tenth Doctor and his companion Martha Jones were present for this historic event (see "Blink") while his eleventh incarnation witnessed the broadcast of Neil Armstrong being interrupted by the image of a Silent (see "The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon").

NASA is testing out the space probe Valkyrie on Mars. Valkyrie has a new kind of camera which allows to see under the poles and beam back pictures using a different spectrum.

The Doctor suggests the reason for the message on the surface of Mars could be state visit, patriotic fervour or rogue graffiti artist.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first on-screen female Ice Warrior, the Ice Queen Iraxxa.


Return to the top of this page
 


The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
A Visit to NASA
A Visit to NASA

In a NASA control centre pictures from a Martian probe are about to be received. Everyone though is stunned when they see the words ‘God save the Queen’ written on the surface of Mars buried under the ice cap of Mars.

Witnessing this event The Doctor and his travelling companions, Bill Potts and Nardole, venture to Mars in 1881 to investigate. As they explore an underground cavern they discover that there is a breathable atmosphere. They also discover tents and a camp fire.

When Bill falls down a shaft Nardole goes back to the TARDIS to fetch some ropes to rescue Bill. But as soon as he enters the TARDIS it departs for unexplained reasons, returning to The Doctor’s office in St Luke’s University in the present day. Unable to get the TARDIS to obey his commands Nardole is forced to ask Missy for help to get back to Mars.

The Message From Mars
The Message From Mars

Meanwhile The Doctor and Bill discover that the planet is occupied by human soldiers from Victorian Britain. When they meet with the soldiers they also discover that the Victorian soldiers have befriended an Ice Warrior they have named Friday. Captain Catchlove says that they rescued Friday when they found him trapped in a crashed spaceship while on patrol in Africa. In exchange for their help Friday has established a small breathable atmosphere within a cavern on Mars and is allowing the soldiers to use Ice Warrior technology to mine the planet for its valuable resources and other treasures. The Doctor however, works out that Friday is using the Victorian soldiers to gain access to his hive, but Captain Catchlove refuses to believe him.

The mining device soon uncovers the tomb of the Ice Empress Iraxxa. Colonel Godsacre orders his men to watch the tomb and to let no-one near it until the morning. However, a greedy soldier, called Jackdaw, cuts a crystal from the base of the tomb unaware that his actions have revived Iraxxa, who kills Jackdaw.

Friday
Friday

Iraxxa's awakening leads to a confrontation with the humans. Friday tells Iraxxa that they have been in hibernation for 5,000 years, and Mars' surface is now uninhabitable. The Doctor asks Iraxxa to show mercy as without help The Ice Warriors will not be able to survive on the planet's surface. Dismissing The Doctor and the soldiers as ‘noisy men’, she spots a fellow female and asks Bill what she thinks. Bill tells Iraxxa that the Victorian soldiers saved Friday and that she should listen to The Doctor as he is telling the truth about the conditions on the Martian surface.

Iraxxa decides to relent based on Bill's word, but suddenly, a bullet is fired. Luckily it harmlessly glances off Iraxxa's helmet. This provokes Iraxxa who returns fire killing one of the Victorian soldiers. As they retreat Captain Catchlove takes command, revealing Colonel Godsacre to being a deserter. After trapping Iraxxa and Friday in the tomb he orders that The Doctor, Bill and Colonel Godsacre are locked up. Meanwhile, Iraxxa starts reviving more Ice Warriors in the hive.

As The Doctor tries to formulate a plan of action, The Ice Warriors launch their attack. However, Friday allies himself with The Doctor and Bill and helps them by distracting Iraxxa long enough for The Doctor to gain control of the mining device, whilst Colonel Godsacre runs away.

Victorian Soldiers
Victorian Soldiers

The Doctor threatens to use the mining device to bury them all under ice, as they are located under Mars' north pole. In the crossfire, Captain Catchlove holds Iraxxa at knifepoint and attempts to force her to agree to help him pilot a spaceship back to Earth. Colonel Godsacre however suddenly reappears and kills Captain Catchlove. He then begs Iraxxa to kill him. Iraxxa honours Colonel Godsacre's ability to kill one of his own without remorse, and promises to call off the attack so long as Colonel Godsacre pledges himself to The Ice Warriors, which Colonel Godsacre agrees to.

With hostilities between the Victorain soldiers and The Ice Warriors over The Doctor covertly contacts the Galactic Federation to assist the Ice Warriors. On a monitor they are greeted by Alpha Centauri, who welcomes them to the Galactic Federation.

The Doctor and Bill help Colonel Godsacre to leave a message on the surface that NASA will discover in the present day. Nardole then re-appears with the TARDIS. On entering the TARDIS The Doctor and Bill discover Missy is piloting the time machine. After the shock of discovering Missy outside of the Vault, Missy expresses concern about The Doctor's well-being.

 
Colonel Godsacre
Colonel Godsacre
Captain Catchlove
Captain Catchlove
Taking Tea
Taking Tea
The Empress
The Empress
 
Bill
Bill
End of Hostilities
End of Hostilities
Alpha Centauri
Alpha Centauri
Missy
Missy




Quote of the Story


 'It's a simple choice, Iraxxa. The oldest one in the book. We must live together. Or die together.'

The Doctor



Return to the top of this page
 


Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
DVD
Doctor Who Series 10 Part 2 Box SetJuly 2017BBCDVD 4203Photo-montageDVD boxed set containing 5 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
Doctor Who Series 10 Part 2 Box SetJuly 2017BBCBD 0395Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 5 stories
Video
DVD
The Complete Tenth Series Box SetNovember 2017BBCDVD 4224Photo-montageDVD boxed set containing 12 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Tenth Series Box SetNovember 2017BBCBD 0406Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 12 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Tenth Series Box Set (Limited Edition Steelbook)November 2017Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 12 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Tenth Series Box Set (Limited Edition UK Exclusive Steelbook)November 2017Photo-montageLimited Edition (UK Exclusive) Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 12 stories


In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 513 (Released: July 2017)
Doctor Who Magazine - ReviewIssue 514 (Released: August 2017)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 528 (Released: September 2018)

Return to the top of this page
 


Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Peter Capaldi
The Twelfth Doctor

   

Matt Lucas
Nardole
 
Pearl Mackie
Bill Potts
   




On Release

DVD Part 2 Box Set
DVD Part 2 Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Blu-Ray Part 2 Box Set
Blu-Ray Part 2 Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series DVD Box Set
Complete Series DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition (UK Exclusive) Steelbook Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition (UK Exclusive) Steelbook Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   


Magazines

Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 513
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 513

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 514
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 514

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 528
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 528

Marvel Comics
   

Return to the top of this page
 
 
Who's Who
KJ Software
Who Me
Episodes of the
Twelfth Doctor


Season 36 (New Series 10) Press to go back to the previous visited page References
 
 
Doctor Who is the copyright of the British Broadcasting Corporation. No infringements intended. This site is not endorsed by the BBC or any representatives thereof.