Mark Gatiss Talks The Return Of The Ice Warriors

This Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who unleashes old school menace the Ice Warriors. It’s a tale written by Mark Gatiss, who spared a moment from 50 th anniversary docudrama An Adventure In Space And Time to talk Martian comebacks with SSSSSSSFX…

We assume it was your idea to bring back the Ice Warriors?

I’ve been badgering for years! I love them, and I’ve always thought ‘There’s something to do there’, because, weirdly, there are only four appearances. They’re a big monster but they haven’t been in it since ’74. Also, unlike a lot of monsters, there are huge gaps, because there’s not much information. They’re baddies and then they’re goodies and then they’re baddies again. There are a few little hints, but I felt there’s loads of room there to explore what Mars was or is or will be and all that sort of stuff. But I had a particular idea, which is what sold Steven on it this time…

The redesign is very faithful.

I insisted on it. They’re a brilliant design, and I thought it just won’t be the same otherwise. They’ve been beautifully, subtly reinvented, but it’s absolutely an Ice Warrior.

Why do you think they’re so effective as villains?

I remember them because they were in the two Pertwee stories, the Peladon stories. We always used to call them “A once proud race” – I now can’t find the origin of that phrase! I used to think it was in Target books… I love that idea of a militaristic race, with a history, and that’s what I always think Doctor Who used to do so well: hint at those little things. “The Cybermen substituted it with another goal – power!” All those lovely things. I just thought it was a lovely idea, and also the fact that they’re cyborgs. They look like reptiles but they’ve got augmentations. It’s also Mars, which I think is great, this idea that there is this massive civilisation which they used to represent, which fell, and there are scattered pockets of them… I think it’s a great idea and a great, great design, really one of the best.

Nick Setchfield

Doctor Who “Cold War” is on BBC One on Saturday at 6pm

Read our preview of spoiler-free preview of Cold War

Watch the "Cold War" trailer

Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.