The Abominable Snowmen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Doctor Who serial. For the hypothetical creature called "abominable snowman", see yeti. For the fictional portrayal of said creature in this and other Doctor Who stories, see Yeti (Doctor Who).
038 – The Abominable Snowmen
Doctor Who serial
Abominable Snowmen.jpg
Jamie and Victoria pursued by the Yeti
Writer Mervyn Haisman
Henry Lincoln
Director Gerald Blake
Script editor Peter Bryant
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer None
Production code NN
Series Season 5
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing 5 episodes (1, 3-6)
Date started 30 September 1967
Date ended 4 November 1967
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Tomb of the Cybermen The Ice Warriors

The Abominable Snowmen is the mostly missing second serial of the fifth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which originally aired in six weekly parts from 30 September to 4 November 1967. The story is notable for the introduction of recurring foes, the Yeti. Only one of the six episodes is held in the BBC archives; five remain missing.


The TARDIS has materialised on a cold and windy hillside. The Doctor is delighted at their destination and tells his companions Jamie and Victoria to start searching for a 'Holy Ghanta'. They have landed in Tibet, and the Detsen Monastery will "give them a welcome of a lifetime" if they arrive with the Ghanta: a bell and holy Buddhist relic the Doctor took three hundred years ago for safe-keeping.

While the Doctor steps outside to investigate, Jamie and Victoria locate the Ghanta along with a sword Jamie keeps. Meanwhile, the Doctor is certain he is being watched and elects to travel to the monastery first to prepare the way. En route, he finds the remains of Travers's camp and the dead body. He takes the rucksack with him as evidence.

Travers worries that the real Yeti are under threat from the robot ones, but some of the others suspect he is controlling the robots. Outside the monastery, he observes two of the robots come to life and head for Detsen. It appears the creatures are under the control of Padmasambhava, who is moving Yeti-like chess pieces around a map of the area. Inside the monastery, the sphere moves toward the dormant Yeti robot with the Doctor and monks looking for it, having worked out its purpose. Khrisong finds a sphere outside the walls of Detsen, and the others observe the two Yeti retrieving it without harming it, leaving the Doctor to conclude that the two were obeying orders. The Doctor decides to return to the TARDIS with Jamie to get equipment to track the missing sphere. The pulsing globe reaches the dormant Yeti and revives it, causing the robot to menace Victoria and Thonmi.

When the Doctor and Jamie reach the TARDIS, they find it guarded by another Yeti, but it is inactive and the Doctor takes out its control sphere, which then returns to life. Jamie prevents it from re-entering the dormant Yeti by lodging a rock in the open chest cavity. They head back to the monastery, where the Doctor forges an alliance with Khrisong based on the need to enable the monks to stay at the monastery. Realising the monks will not leave peacefully, Songsten opens the gates of the monastery to more Yeti.

When the Doctor discovers Padmasambhava is still alive after three hundred years, he heads to the Inner Sanctum, where Padmasambhava explains that he encountered the formless Great Intelligence on the astral plane and the entity borrowed his form in order to conduct an experiment. The experiment is now out of control and the old man seemingly passes away. Seconds later, the body of Padmasambhava is reanimated by the Great Intelligence, but the Doctor has returned to his friends and does not know this. The Doctor helps Victoria recover from her trance-like state and listens to Travers, who is recovering his senses and explains about the cave and the pyramid. The Doctor pieces together the nature of the threat while Travers recalls that Songsten was in the cave too. It is clear Songsten is the link between the Yeti and the monastery.

In the Inner Sanctum, Songsten has bowed to the will of the Great Intelligence and slays Khrisong. The Doctor and his friends arrive and overpower Songsten, realising he has been entranced. Songsten is bound and returned to the other monks, and the violence of his manner persuades them that he is the threat to Detsen. The Doctor tells the monks to flee so that he can defeat the Intelligence. With Jamie, Victoria, and Thonmi, he plans to destroy the equipment the Intelligence is using through Padmasambhava to control the robotic Yeti. They venture to the Inner Sanctum, where the Doctor distracts the being while Thonmi and Jamie destroy the equipment used to relay instructions to the Yeti. Destroying a further pyramid of spheres expels the Intelligence and, left in peace, Padmasambhava dies. With the danger over, the travelers depart. Travers accompanies them up the mountain and his belief in the real Yeti is renewed when he spots one. He charges off to investigate as the TARDIS departs.


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Episode One" 30 September 1967 (1967-09-30) 24:15 6.3 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Episode Two" 7 October 1967 (1967-10-07) 23:15 6.0 16mm t/r
"Episode Three" 14 October 1967 (1967-10-14) 23:55 7.1 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Episode Four" 21 October 1967 (1967-10-21) 24:11 7.1 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Episode Five" 28 October 1967 (1967-10-28) 23:51 7.2 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Episode Six" 4 November 1967 (1967-11-04) 23:31 7.4 Only stills and/or fragments exist

All episodes except for episode two are missing.

The North Wales mountain pass at Nant Ffrancon doubled as Tibet for the filming of this serial.[4] Filming was done there from 4 to 9 September 1967.[4] According to Jack Watling one of the actors playing the Yeti fell hundreds of feet during filming and was feared dead, but was merely inebriated and fortunately cushioned by the foam rubber inside the costume.[5]

Cast notes[edit]

The character of Professor Travers is played by Jack Watling, the father of actress Deborah Watling, who plays Victoria.[5] Norman Jones later played Major Baker in Doctor Who and the Silurians and Hieronymous in The Masque of Mandragora. Rapalchan is played by David Baron, often said to be the playwright Harold Pinter under a stage name. Pinter has since denied this rumour. David Baron was indeed Pinter's name for the purposes of Equity, the British actors' union, but he had relinquished it by the time this serial was produced.

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen
Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen.jpg
Author Terrance Dicks
Cover artist Chris Achilleos
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
21 November 1974
ISBN 0-426-10583-4

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in November 1974. At Barry Letts' request several Buddhist terms used in the screenplay as names were modified for the novelisation. There have been French, Portuguese and Turkish editions. When Target Books began numbering its releases in 1983, it chose to do so alphabetically rather than based upon publication or broadcast order. As a result, the novelisation of The Abominable Snowmen was identified as book number 1. An un-abridged reading of the Target novel was released by BBC audio on CD in February 2009. It is read by David Troughton, the son of Patrick Troughton who played the Doctor in this story.

Home media[edit]

In 1991, Episode 2 was released on VHS as part of "The Troughton Years". In 2004, that episode, along with a handful of clips gathered from other sources, were digitally restored and released on the Lost in Time DVD.

All known copies of Episode 2, including audio recordings made by fans during the original broadcast in 1967, contain a brief audio dropout late in the episode. The Doctor is examining a captured Yeti and is supposed to say "You were right about one thing Victoria — this creature certainly doesn't seem to be flesh and blood!" In what appears to have been a fault with the master videotape recording, the sound cuts in with "...toria..." The original VHS release of the episode saw the soundtrack manipulated to cover the dropout, whilst maintaining the running time of the episode. The DVD release contains a "patchwork repair" of the fault, performed by Mark Ayres of the Doctor Who Restoration Team, using the appropriate words spoken by Troughton with the correct vocal inflections, taken from other Second Doctor episodes.

The audio soundtrack, along with additional linking narration by Frazer Hines, has been released on MP3 CD, along with The Web of Fear.[6] A collection box entitled "Yeti Attack" contains both Yeti adventures on normal CD.[7]


  1. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Abominable Snowmen". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  2. ^ "The Abominable Snowmen". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-07-05). "The Abominable Snowmen". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ a b "Doctor Who Locations". 
  5. ^ a b northwales Administrator (7 April 2013). "Doctor Who and the missing Yetis of Snowdonia". northwales. 
  6. ^ "Abominable Snowman Audio". 
  7. ^ "Attack Radio Collection". 

External links[edit]