The Abominable Snowmen

This story is not known to exist in its original format
(6 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes)
in its entirety.
See below for episodes available on DVD / video CD Audio - 2 discs
(Doctor Who Story No. 38, starring Patrick Troughton)
  • written by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln
  • directed by Gerald Blake
  • produced by Innes Lloyd
  • featuring library monk chants
  • 6 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: The Doctor has a holy relic to return to the Detsen Monastery in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet, but the monks are suspicious. Mysterious attacks have become more frequent, and the European Professor Travers suspects the Doctor of sabotaging his expedition to find the elusive Yeti: the Abominable Snowmen. Have the Yeti shed their timid reputation? Is the monk leadership unwittingly playing into the attackers' hands? And what kind of creature have Jamie and Victoria run into in a mysterious mountainside cave?

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.


More monsters, more monsters..... The Doctor Who production team came up with another set of winners in the Yeti, and many of the best moments of this story involve the Doctor and friends discovering exactly how they work, with respect to their control spheres, their Voodoo-like miniatures, and the disembodied Intelligence that is slowly taking control of the members of the Monastery.


While the script treats the TARDIS fairly and introduces the series' characters and concepts adequately, the police box does not seem to get fair treatment coming or going, visually or audibly, landing with the sound still in the wrong direction and at half-speed for no apparently good reason. Thankfully, the TARDIS is not ignored during the rest of the story, as the treasure-trove of gadgets in its interior make a return journey to it one of the essential elements keeping the plot moving. A pity that no interior scenes appear on the TV version in the middle episodes, as the Doctor and Jamie's breakfast scene in Terrance Dicks' novelization always seemed to be such a nice, elegant touch for the series.

The plot elements are firmly based on a strong formula, but they get stretched a little too thinly for a six-parter, which results in a pace much slower than the ideal. Although we still get a good interesting story, most season five tales can out-strip "The Abominable Snowmen" in this area.

There is a near total absence of any music in the story, apart from some recordings of Tibetan Monk chants (officially termed source music instead of incidental music) or Brian Hodgson's control sphere bleeping (officially termed sound effects even though it makes the atmospheric contribution that incidental music should). Many other scenes are begging for a little music to audibly magnify the suspense expertly conveyed in the visuals, but are left bone bare, like unfinished pieces of footage.

Add up the slow pace, the stretched-thin plot, the lack of musical atmosphere, and the hypnotic qualities of both versions of the Padmasambhava's voice and the voices of his dutiful monk followers, and the effect is truly hypnotic and sleep-inducing. Lullaby time! At least the Yeti are capable of waking one up with a bit of crash and bang now and then, and the story is full of many interesting elements. Appreciation of this story requires more effort on the viewer's part to take and maintain an active interest in the goings on, but those who do this will largely have their efforts rewarded with a satisfactory tale.

Professor Travers is not a very likeable character in the early episodes, but he comes around later on. Despite having a chance to work with his daughter Deborah, Jack Watling's performance does not appear to be altogether inspired in this story. It does improve as the story progresses and Watling becomes more familiar with his character.

Victoria gets to do some of her very best in this story, as she has many scenes of dealing with the Monks all on her own, proving she has as much initiative, ingenuity, and knack for getting in and out of trouble as any good Doctor Who companion. The Doctor and Jamie fit their hero and sidekick roles in their usual exemplary fashion, adding a bit of humour to the works. A typical outing for the pair of them.

In the monk world, Khrisong is about the only one who stands out. Although the character's antagonism is motivated a little too thinly to last as long as it does, Norman Jones turns in an excellent portrayal, doing what he can to keep the drama fresh. By the time episode six rolls around, Khrisong is one of the Doctor's most likeable and valuable allies, and one can very wholeheartedly root for and care about him.


"The Abominable Snowmen" is good but slow, rating at about the same level as last year's "The Moonbase" (story no. 33). Like the Cybermen, the Yeti have proven good enough for a return.....



Doctor Who: Lost in Time - Patrick Troughton
2 DVD discs

(also included in Lost in Time Boxed Sets)

Coverage on The Abominable Snowmen includes:
  • Episode 2
    • (with optional commentary by actress Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), and moderator Gary Russell)
  • Yeti clips from episode 4 (silent, 11 sec.)
  • behind-the-scenes location footage (colour, no sound, 3 min.)
More details & buying options for "Lost in Time" DVD's
Audio CD - Doctor Who - The Abominable Snowmen.

This audio CD set features the complete audio tracks of all 6 television episodes of this story, narrated by actor Frazer Hines (who also played Jamie McCrimmon) to help listeners follow what used to be visual aspects of the story. This version is playable in any normal audio CD player.
Doctor Who: The Troughton Years
introduced by Jon Pertwee

1 VHS video tape

Coverage on The Abominable Snowmen includes:
  • One complete episode:
    • Episode 2
More details & buying options for missing episode VHS videos
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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Ice Warriors"



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