Doctor Who: Remembering THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN

On it's broadcast anniversary, Tom Pheby revisits the 1967 adventure The Abominable Snowmen.

"Take the second exit on the roundabout and you'll see the Linton Travel Tavern on your left."

The Abominable Snowmen starred the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, and was a 6 part serial from season 5 of the long running show, originally televised from September 30th 1967. As you may well know episodes 1,3,4,5 & 6 are sadly no longer with us (or are they?), but when I saw this originally it left such a lasting impact on me that I can still see it vividly.

I guess at that time it managed to sum up the whole ethos of what the show was about. After a whole season as the Doctor, Troughton was fully developed in the role with his quirky style and eccentric wardrobe, and in this one we saw him don a wonderfully mad coat that befits the mad man inside.

Set in Tibet in 1935, the Doctor returns a bell (the Ghanta) to a Buddhist Monastery (Det -Sen) which was in his safe keeping (Ding Dong). Unfortunately he finds this haven of peace and tranquility is now the preserve of a rampaging and rather unpleasant group of Yeti. But wait a minute, these are in fact robots wrapped in faux fur!

The Doctor meets Professor Travers, an explorer who surely regrets his decision to seek out the Abominable Snowman, and in the mix the Time Lord's intrepid and woolly-headed companions Jamie and Victoria decide to wander off  (don't they always?). Talking of woolly-headed - Jamie, played by Frazer Hines, went on to sheer sheep in Emmerdale, coincidence?

The Doctor is accused of murder when he is spotted with a dead mans rucksack - that damn coat causing a case of mistaken identity, it was just too Yeti like. I also remember the unfeasibly large footprints and armed Monks, plus a whole host of other things to enjoy, including the tension and drama beautifully bought to the screen by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, and produced by the legendary Inness Lloyd.

There was 'sinister' by the bucketful, suspense by the boat load and some immensely funny dialogue:
Jamie : "Have you thought up some clever plan, Doctor?"
The Doctor : "Yes, Jamie, I believe I have."
Jamie : "What are you going to do?"
The Doctor : "Bung a rock at it."
Later when Travers gave his compelling evidence that the Doctor is the murderer of his friend, it was reasoned laughably:
"He's an Englishman. Why would he lie?"  - how delightfully British!

I will never forget the atmospheric nature of it all, filmed on a desolate and chilly hillside. From the opening it suggested drama and didn't disappoint in the slightest. Troughton pulled out his entire repertoire of classic performance and delivered a more complex Who episode than I had seen before.

What a pity then that myself and others can no longer revisit this glorious chapter of Doctor Who, no doubt it made way for the mind numbing recordings of Blankety Blank or some other similar travesty of television. The cash strapped BBC could have taped over any amount of dreary crap they produced at the time, but you suspect that they had no idea of the potential or longevity of Doctor Who. Typical BBC.

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter
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