Thin Ice: The Fact File
The read-through for Thin Ice took place on 18th July, 2016 and filming on the episode started on 1st August.
Frost Fairs were hugely popular and held sporadically on the River Thames until 1814. You can read more about them in Frost fair: When an elephant walked on the frozen River Thames.
The Doctor mentions that this isn’t his first visit to the Frost Fairs. This ties in with something River told Rory in A Good Man Goes to War: ‘The Doctor took me ice skating on the River Thames in 1814, the last of the great Frost Fairs. He got Stevie Wonder to sing for me under London Bridge!’
The Doctor’s claim that, ‘Your species hardly notices anything!’ echoes his words to Ace in Remembrance of the Daleks. ‘Do you remember the Zygon gambit with the Loch Ness Monster?’ he asked his companion. ‘Or the Yeti in the Underground? Your species has an amazing capacity for self-deception!’
And talking of the Loch Ness Monster, the sinister snake in Thin Ice isn’t the first creature to be found lurking in the Thames. In Terror of the Zygons we discovered that Nessie is actually a Skarasen which followed the Doctor to London and eventually made its way into the city’s famous river. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth the Doctor was confronted by a Dalek that emerged from the Thames and in Aliens of London, the Slitheen crashed a craft, carrying the so-called ‘Space Pig’ into its waters.
The phrase ‘on thin ice’ means to be in a situation close to peril. Ralph Waldo Emerson is often credited as originating the idiom in his essay of 1841 entitled Prudence, in which he wrote, ‘In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.’ However, variations of the phrase pre-date that work, with Emanuel Swedenborg writing in 1786, ‘They may therefore be likened unto those, who are carried in a Chariot over a smooth thin Ice, which breaketh under them…’
The Doctor again uses the alias, ‘Doctor Disco’, a moniker he first used (jokingly) in The Zygon Invasion.
The ‘pop up’ pub where Bill plays skittles is called The Nelson Arms. In The Sea Devils, the Doctor tells Captain Hart, ‘Horatio Nelson was a personal friend of mine…’
The ‘butterfly effect’ is a theory that supposes the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one location can somehow have huge ramifications in another location, miles away. In relation to time travel, as referenced in Thin Ice, it suggests that an apparently trivial act can have massive repercussions. The concept was referenced in The Shakespeare Code when Martha said, ‘It’s like in the films... You step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race!’ Perhaps coincidentally, Bill’s first tentative step onto the frozen Thames brings to mind Martha’s cautious first step outside the TARDIS in that adventure.
‘Of course it’s not wrestling unless it’s in zero gravity…’ The Doctor has previously mentioned the Anti-Gravity Olympics in Tooth and Claw and later, in The Bells of Saint John when he even claimed to have taken part in the 2074 games!
‘Don’t suck your thumbs while I’m away…’ The Doctor reads the children a passage from The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb, one of the Struwwelpeter tales by Heinrich Hoffmann. The Time Lord must have been carrying the book with him as it was first published in 1845. Incidentally, ‘Shockheaded Peter’ (a theatrical production that was first staged in 1998) remains one of the most celebrated interpretations of the Struwwelpeter stories. It was co-created by Julian Bleach (best known to Doctor Who fans for his portrayal of Davros) who also played the ghoulish MC for much of the show’s run.