This week’s Doctor Who adventure, the aptly-named ‘Thin Ice,’ took us to the London frost fair of 1814, where a good time was had by all, except when Bill was expressing misgivings about this whole time travel malarkey, and those people who died.
I hope you all had a warm blanket and were clinging tenaciously to your wallets. These were cold, dangerous times, even without a giant sea creature and its little glowy friends lurking beneath the river.
- Bill expresses being low-key in love with the TARDIS, and the Doctor agrees. Older viewers may remember that time the TARDIS was granted the form of a pretty lady in the Matt Smith adventure ‘The Doctor’s Wife’. He’s low-key in love with his little police box? Well, if that’s not the understatement of the century, I’ll eat my hat.
- Speaking of hats, the Doctor dons a handsome period number in this adventure, following in a longstanding tradition of the Doctor in hats. Notable hat-enthusiast Doctors include Two, Four, Five, Seven and Eleven.
- This is not the Doctor’s first frosty rodeo: the First Doctor brought Steven and Vicki in the audio adventure ‘Frostfire’, the Eleventh Doctor later mentioned bringing River Song along as a birthday treat in ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ – Stevie Wonder was there, it was a whole thing – and Twelve once invited Clara on a frosty date in ‘The Caretaker’, a date she eventually took him up on in the novel ‘Silhouette’, but as for how much of it he remembers, well…
- The Doctor reads a story to the children from Heinrich Hoffmann’s classic Struwwelpeter – a collection of educational cautionary fairy tales, and an early example of the now classic tradition of utterly terrifying, nightmare-inducing children’s media. I’d say it builds character, if by character you mean lifelong anxiety. (Check out fairy tale slots here, if that’s your thing.)
- Despite his assertion that he isn’t fond of tattoos, the Doctor himself sported a tattoo on his forearm in his third incarnation. This is because actor Jon Pertwee had a tattoo on his forearm, and the Doctor appeared a few times in short sleeves, and once wearing nearly nothing at all. (Depending on the type of Doctor Who fan you are, you’ve probably either tried to forget this, or have papered your bedroom wall with screencaps.)
- The first mention of the butterfly effect, which Bill observes in this adventure, appears in Ray Bradbury’s 1952 story ‘A Sound of Thunder’, though a similar idea was expressed by German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte in his 1800 work The Vocation of Man. Sadly, he died in January 1814, and thus just missed the excitement that went down on the Thames at the frost fair.
- The Thames today is much less likely to freeze over, and definitely not safe to attempt to walk on. In the intervening 200 or so years between the last frost fair and today, winter temperatures have become milder on average, and 1831 saw the rebuilding of London Bridge, whose new wider arches allowed for more free-flowing water. So barring an unexpected new ice age, we’re unlikely to see a resurgence of frost fairs in central London. But then again, there’s always time travel…
What was your favourite bit in ‘Thin Ice’? Let us know below…