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11 July 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 192: The Ice Warriors, Episode Six

Dear diary,

Long-term readers of The 50 Year Diary will know that I like to keep a track on the Doctor's development of the Sonic Screwdriver. Every now and then, you get a moment in a story which - with hindsight - could be leading the the creation of our favourite Time Lord get-out tool. We've seen the Doctor using sound waves to open locks before now via his recorder, but today is the moment that I think he starts putting two and two together, and gets to work on the sonic.

There's a lovely moment when the Doctor is trying to disrupt the Ice Warrior's weapon so that he can turn it on them. Sat on the floor, coated in cables, the Doctor tries to explain his plan to Victoria - 'The gun seems to work on the basis that sound waves produce reverbs in the objects in their path'. Obviously, this is a pretty good description of what the Sonic Screwdriver does at its most basic level (I'm still thinking of it more as a handy lock-picking device than the all-purpose tool we get in the more recent adventures), and I'd not be surprised if it's thinking about the Ice Warrior's weapon that starts the Doctor really thinking about creating his trusty friend.

In A Christmas Carol, the Doctor tells Kazran that he stayed in his bedroom inventing a new type of screwdriver, and we know from the Series Six DVDs that the Doctor has a number of adventures while his companions are sleeping. I'd not be surprised if he's going to be spending the next few nights shut in his TARDIS bedroom developing said screwdriver. I've not seen Fury From the Deep (where we'll be seeing the device for the first time), but I'm hoping that it's going to tie in nicely.

Anyway! Episode Six provides me with one last chance to praise how heartless these Ice Warrior chaps can be. My notes are full of scribbles about the way their acting ('surrender, or I will blow up your base') and the way they interact with the 'good guys' in the story. 'You'll live to regret this', one is told, to which he replies, coldly, 'At least I will live to regret it'. Perhaps my favourite moment has to be Vaaga establishing which members of the base's crew he needs to keep around to successfully free his ship. 'What are your qualifications for existence?' he asks Clent. I might adopt that question for people I come into contact with!

I've also not really mentioned the simply fantastic guest performances that we've had across these last six episodes. I did initially worry that I'd not be able to look at Perter Sallis in the part of Penley without picturing Wallace and Gromit (in the event, though there's the occasional line where Wallace's tones are instantly recognisable, I found myself thinking much more of Last of the Summer Wine), but he turns in a brilliant appearance. Equally, Peter Barkworth gives us one of the programme's finest performances, and it's especially evident here in the final moments of the episode.

One other thing that I've not mentioned, but I've been meaning to for a while, if the relationship between Jamie and Victoria. We all know that Jamie is completely smitten for her (indeed, he sets off to rescue her from fates unknown in The Evil of the Daleks having only seen one picture of her that he thinks is beautiful), but I'm wondering now… does Victoria have a romantic soft-spot for the highlander, too?

'There is a vague risk that it will kill everybody. Clent and Penley included…' the Doctor admits to her as he prepares the sonic weapon for its first attack. 'AND JAMIE?!?' Victoria replies (in a moment that put me instantly in mind of Watling's cameo from Dimensions in Time), obviously desperately worried for the boy. The pair of them have spent most of The Ice Warriors desperate to get back to or save each other, and they seem to be more focussed on their fellow companion than on the Doctor.

Maybe it's simply that they know the Doctor well enough to know he'll take care of himself - especially in this tale where he's more commanding than we've seen from this incarnation before. It's reasonable to argue that they could have something of an older brother/younger sister relationship, and they both feel a strong sense to care for each other. Or it's possible that there's love in the air. What do we think? Are Jamie and Victoria an item?

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