Rediscovering lost treasures. Doctor Who
The “Ice Warrior head” first seen in “Ice Warriors” 1967
‘The most exciting thing as a collector has got to be laying eyes for the first time, on an item you thought was lost forever, it’s a dream come true for an enthusiast, nothing quite beats that rush when you realise this is the real thing in front of you.’ Prop specialist and collector Mathew Doe.
Rediscovering an important piece of cinematic history tucked away in a private collection, a toy box or a dusty attic, just waiting to be restored, to be loved again, is a constant quest for enthusiasts, that is exactly what happened when prop specialist Mathew Doe rediscovered a Doctor Who relic that had disappeared decades earlier.
The Ice Warriors first appeared back in November 1967, when the scriptwriting genius of Brian Hayles called for the introduction of a reptilian humanoid creature in the episode “The Ice Warriors”. The design would go on to become an iconic creation of a much-loved era in television, with viewers excitedly tuning in to see the monsters of the Patrick Troughton and John Pertwee era wreak their havoc each week.
Differing from the later incarnations, this first head (one of two) probably designed by costume designer Martin Bowe was substantially larger than the later models, and when the production moved across to Lime grove, the helmets were redesigned on the director’s request to be slimmer, lighter and less bulky on-screen. These helmets can be seen in the background of multiples shots, and are seen behind the lead Ice Warrior character Varga, played by the wonderful Bernard Breslaw. They also appeared in the episode ‘ The Monster of Peladon’ but by that time had been repainted and the eye lenses changed for red ones. At the start of John Pertwee’s turn as the doctor, this helmet made an appearance in a Radio times special feature, it has been confirmed as the head in the article photoshoot by carefully matching the scales to those in the picture.
When the helmet was found, it was in poor shape, and in desperate need of restoration attention, so was sent to expert Mike Tucker from the Model Unit. Mike had previously worked on the Varga costume for the exhibit at London Olympia. At the time, it was found that the head was missing from the costume, so Alan Marshall sculpted a replacement to match the original using photographs. This makes Mathew’s Ice Warrior head even more significant, as it is now thought to be the only original in existence.
Extensive restoration was undertaken by Mike, as over the decades the latex had perished, the chin support was badly damaged, and when it had been placed in exhibition in the 1980’s it had been painted with a different green paint and the red eye lenses from the ‘Monster of Peladon’ had been painted over in silver. Due to the extent of the damage, it was decided that it was best to preserve what remained of the head rather than to try to reconstruct it.
Mike Tucker and his team are very experienced and have worked on both new and old Doctor Who as well as Red Dwarf, and during his time working with the production projects Mike has fixed up various Doctor Who monsters.
Mike painstakingly removed the silver paint from the lenses, restoring them to their former red as seen in ‘The Monster of Peladon’
The badly damaged chin strap piece was reconstructed using pieces of the original latex to preserve it’s authenticity, and the paint shades were matched.
The head also came with a written maker name inside ‘Terence’ which has subsequently been matched to the actor Terence Denville who worked on the story ‘The Monster of Peladon’.
Article: Emma Murfin for Movie-Reliquary