This isn't the first time Frazer Hines (alias Jamie McCrimmon) has narrated The Ice Warriors. In 2005, he provided the linking narration for the audio release of the television serial's soundtrack ("Doctor Who", the Ice Warriors (Dr Who Radio Collection)
). Now he reads the unabridged novelisation of the story, originally published by Target Books in 1976 (Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors (The Doctor Who Library, No. 33)
As with his voice-overs for the soundtrack releases, Hines's narration is sometimes a little over-the-top in its enthusiasm, especially at the beginning of the story when he practically shouts the book's title. He also fumbles a few lines, so that, for example, we are told about a Martian's "fierth hiss" - was there no time for a retake? However, perhaps because of Hines's familiarity with the television story, he does some good impersonations of several of the characters, including the scavenger Storr, the distinctive whisper of the Ice Warriors, and of course his famous, eerily accurate imitation of Pat Troughton's Doctor.
As for the novelisation itself, author Brian Hayles trims much of the fat from his own television scripts, especially from the later episodes, the screen versions of which are rather sluggish. Conversely, a great deal of attention is lavished upon the tense build-up of the first two instalments. As a result, material from the opening two episodes takes up the whole of the first two CDs (just over an hour each), while the remainder of the story passes by swiftly during the final two discs.
Several of the characters benefit from additional back-stories and explorations of their inner thoughts and feelings, in particular Miss Garrett (here given the first name Jan), whose characterisation on screen is decidedly uneven. A slightly different explanation is offered here by Leader Clent for the onset of the new Ice Age, perhaps in light of more recent research, and the computer is given a name, ECCO.
However, there's still no explanation as to why Arden and his fellow scientists should believe that the frozen Varga might be an early human, when even through a thick layer of ice they can see that he is green. Perhaps they think that, despite being deep frozen, the centuries-old body has got a bit mouldy!
An improvement on the original six-part serial, Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors certainly won't leave you cold - and neither will the new, lower price point.