The TARDIS arrives on Coldstar, a vast freezer satellite, packed with supplies to feed a colony world.
But there are cracks in the ice, and something scuttles under the floors. Soon, Rose and the Doctor encounter robots, space pirates and refuse collectors.
As Coldstar’s tunnels begin to melt, an even greater threat stirs within. An old enemy of the Doctor puts a plan into action – a plan for retribution.
Nobody’s vengeance is colder than an Ice Warrior’s.
The third and final installment in this Big Finish box set featuring David Tennant and Billie Piper is certainly the weakest of the trio, however, performances by the whole cast do manage to elevate it to be an enjoyable story.
I think that the main struggle is that there is essentially only one kind of Ice Warrior story – ones where they want revenge for being imprisoned – which means that it is ultimately predictable how these stories are going to play out. It’s strengths definitely lie in it feeling like a modern story, which is something that cannot be denied especially when we take the three stories in this boxset as a whole – they mirror what would have happened in a typical Russell T Davies helmed series in his first run. I think that Matt Fitton’s script gets more interesting as the story progresses, and when we get to the encounter between the Doctor and the Ice Lord Hasskor, revealing details of a war between humanity and the Ice Warriors, which seems to be a completely different conflict to others we have seen between Humans and Martians in previous Doctor Who stories. I loved the final confrontations between the Ice Lord and the Time Lord, which paced out revelations about this war, revealing eventually that there are some Ice Warriors living on the planet as refugees.
Fitton also manages to evoke the tone of the era in the guest characters, especially the characters of Callum and Lorna. Whilst Callum’s character trajectory from wet around the ears son of a space pirate to someone willing to risk and ultimately give up his life is predictable, but feels authentic for Tennant’s run as the Doctor and it’s a solid enough trope in wider fiction outside of Doctor Who. Sean Biggerstaff brings a certain deal of likeability to the character too meaning that a character who could potentially be irritating in lesser hands. Lorna, too, feels like a character who could have walked off-screen. Her repeated statement that she is just on Coldstar for the recycling is an example of an “unexceptional” character doing extraordinary feats, just like any of this Doctor’s companions – perhaps more like Rose and Donna, who are stuck in jobs arguably beneath them, than Martha. That theme of fulfilling your potential is certainly something that applies to Lorna, with the Doctor giving her the mission of spreading the message about the Ice Warrior refugees on the planet of Enyo. Again, this is a really good performance from Keziah Joseph, who makes the most of the little characterisation she gets. Maureen Beattie is good as Callum’s mother, proud of her lineage of space pirates and despairing of the future of her line as her son is something of a disappointment.
The Ice Warriors, despite the rather generic plot, are used quite effectively, and this marks the first time that we’ve seen an Ice Lord meet a new series Doctor. Hasskor is unrelenting in seeking his revenge on the humans of Enko and, with Nicholas Briggs’ vocal performance, feels truly menacing. I liked the fact that even after his death, he wanted to take the Doctor with him by setting his armour to self-destruct and the scramble for the Doctor, Rose and Lorna to get out of this in the closing moments of the story. The Ice Warriors can be a bit of a bland villain and I can see why Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks decided to make them more peaceful in the Third Doctor’s era, but they do sometimes have their moments and this is one of them, aided by Briggs’ sybillance and a neat little twist at the end of the tale when the listener thinks the day is saved.
I’m Rose Tyler and the thing about us Tylers: we won’t lie down when we’re beaten.Rose Tyler
It genuinely does not feel like any time has passed when listening to David Tennant playing the Doctor in this story – or in general in any Big Finish productions – but in stories that could be rather middling, the fact that actors like Tennant continue to bring their A-game really helps lift them. He and Nicholas Briggs are particularly good when the Doctor gets to face off with Hasskor, and it is clear Briggs is relishing his role as the Ice Lord as it allows him to do something a bit different from the usual Ice Warrior voice. Whilst Billie Piper sounds noticeably posher than she did than when she played Rose on television, it ultimately does not detract from the performance and I liked that Rose is given something palpable to do here, helping get Lorna and Callum off Coldstar and onto the Voltar’s Pearl.
Verdict: A rather generic Ice Warrior story is boosted by strong performances from the whole cast, especially Tennant, Piper and Briggs. 7/10
Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Keziah Joseph (Lorna), Maureen Beattie (Brona Volta), Sean Biggerstaff (Callum Volta), Anthony Stewart-Hicks (Management/Bert) & Nicholas Briggs (Lord Haskoor/Commander Slaan).
Writer: Matt Fitton
Director: Nicholas Briggs
Behind the Scenes
- This story was also released dubbed in German, titled Eiskalte Rache.
- The story was re-released in 2018 on vinyl in a limited run of 1250 copies.
- Maureen Beattie also played Rona Bellows in Last Christmas.
- Sean Biggerstaff plays Noah in Big Finish’s Jenny: The Doctor’s Daughter range. He has also appeared in a number of other Big Finish plays, including Time Reef and Masters of Earth.
There are rules about Time. Or rather, there used to be. I guess that’s up to me now.The Tenth Doctor
Previous Tenth Doctor review: The Sword of the Chevalier
Cold Vengeance is available from the Big Finish website