The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive in Tibet in the 1930s, where the usually gentle Yeti have besieged a Buddhist monastery, and the the TARDIS team become ensnared in the plans of the Great Intelligence.
It feels as though we constantly hit a story in the Troughton era with parts missing. The Abominable Snowmen is no exception, with only the second episode still existing. I have watched some fan-made reconstructions to get a feel for the story, but I don’t think it’s fair to give it a rating based on these. If in the future, an animated version is released, then I’ll review it then – like I did with The Faceless Ones earlier this year.
This story is notable for introducing the Great Intelligence, who would reappear in The Web of Fear, later in Season 5. The Great Intelligence currently holds the record for the longest period between onscreen appearances at 44 years, reappearing in The Snowmen in 2012, voiced firstly by Sir Ian McKellen and then portrayed by Richard E. Grant. Created by the writers of this story, curiously, Haisman and Lincoln did not receive a credit for the creation when it returned in 2012. The Intelligence went on to feature in the expanded universe, appearing in Big Finish audio stories such as The Web of Time opposite River Song, set prior to the Second Doctor’s arrival in this story and in books, most frequently the Candy Jar published books about the Brigadier’s childhood and life prior to meeting the Doctor.
The story also has another recurring character who would go on to appear in The Web of Fear, in the shape of Edward Travers, played by Jack Watling, Deborah Watling’s father. It is his endeavour to find a real life Yeti that links the two stories, with the story starting with a Yeti killing his travelling companion, John in the story’s opening moments. The Doctor comes to visit the scene of a previous and unseen adventure, only to find that the situation has changed as the Great Intelligence seeks freedom from the astral plane, possessing the body of Padmasmbhava in his quest to do so.
The Abominable Snowmen has a pretty solid reputation to live up to, and I would love to see it either found again or brought back via the means of animation, with memorable creatures and villain. Having not known much about this story before researching it and now knowing how it ties into The Web of Fear, I’m now looking forward to seeing the returning elements!
Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Jack Watling (Professor Edward Travers), Wolfe Morris (Padmasambhava), Charles Morgan (Songsten), Norman Jones (Khrisong), David Grey (Rinchen), David Spenser (Thonmi), Raymond Llewellyn (Sapan), David Baron (Ralpachan) & Reg Whitehead, Tony Harwood, Richard Kerley and John Hogan (Yeti).
Writer: Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln
Director: Gerald Blake
- Norman Jones would later appear in The Silurians and The Masque of Mandragora.
- David Baron is often erroneously claimed to be Harold Pinter, as this was his Equity name, however Pinter had abandoned the name before production on this story had commenced.