Ice Warriors (and an original Companion!) returning to Who

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Feb 11, 2013, 2:17 PM EST

A classic villain returns ... and so does one of the very first companions!

So 2013 is continuing to be a really great time for Doctor Who.  We've been reporting a lot lately on the dramatic retelling of Who's origin, An Adventure in Space and Time, and today we've got the most exciting piece of casting news yet.  Actor William Russell, who played the first-ever male companion, Ian Chesterton, will be making a cameo appearence in the special.

In the first episode of the show, An Unearthly Child, Russell uttered the memorable phrase "Let me get this straight. A thing that looks like a police box, standing in a junkyard, it can move anywhere in time and space?," and it's gone on to be used in basically every single special about the show since.  Not much is known about his role in the upcoming drama other than that the name for the character is "Harry."  Still, it is incredibly exciting to have him on board.

Meanwhile, Ian Chesterton isn't the only classic character to be returning.  When Doctor Who returns for the second half of its seventh season, we'll be seeing the show's Martians -- the Ice Warriors.  Mark Gatiss (who also wrote An Adventure in Time and Space) will be bringing the classic aliens back to life in an episode that will trap the Doctor with one of the baddies in a submarine.  Says executive producer Carol Skinner:

We wanted to bring them back because they’re wonderful! In the mix of stories that we were planning for this year it felt as if doing something very bold with a monster that hadn’t been seen for a while would be really cool. Mark is an enormous fan of the Ice Warrior stories and came up with the idea. The sense of a monster of that scale and that size trapped in a really small, contained environment such as a submarine was a really brilliant story to be able to tell. And obviously we’ve had a huge amount of fun going back to the traditional designs and recreating them, bringing the Ice Warriors back to life again.

Skinner also was very happy to revisit the characters because "They were such a beautiful original design, and are genuinely really scary in terms of what they look like as they’re coming towards you in that armour."  We confess, we always thought the design idea was a good deal better than the execution.  Let's hope an increased budget will help us see just how cool-looking these creatures can be.

What's most fun about these characters, though, is that they're not always villains.  In Third Doctor Jon Pertwee's episode, Curse of Peladon, the Doctor actually winds up working with the Ice Warriors to reveal the true villain of the story.  It's also cool that the Ice Warriors have multiple ranks.  As Doctor Who baddies go, they've actually got quite a nice amount of depth to them.

Of course, they also have those hissing voices that are a mix of creepy and funny.  Skinner actually confessed that "I spent quite a lot of time on set trying to hiss like an Ice Warrior."

Here's hoping kids around the world will do the same come this spring.

(via Doctor Who TV here and here)