Tuesday 25 January 2011

064 The Crusade Part 1: The Lion

EPISODE: The Crusade Part 1: The Lion
TRANSMITTED: 27 March 1965
WRITER: David Whitaker
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: Dennis Spooner
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Lost In Time

I mentioned when I started this that I'd been listening to lots of old Doctor Who stories on MP3. Well after listening to the stories I knew I hadn't heard I was suddenly struck that maybe I hadn't heard the missing episode for two of the near complete stories: The Reign of Terror & The Crusade. So I swiftly got them out the way so I could proclaim that I'd watched (listened) to every episode of Doctor Who. However as I'm sitting down to watch the Crusade now it strikes me that if I'd never heard those episodes before then,and I just listened to those episodes a few months ago, then I've never enjoyed this story all the way through in order before.....

For another story I've had trouble enjoying all the way through in order come back in 23 days when I start the Myth Makers and enjoy a very embarrassing tale.....

Onto the story. Englishmen carrying swords walk through some woods. They are stalked by similarly armed Saracens, but both parties miss the Tardis silently materialising. In the woods is William de Tornebu, an ally of the King, Richard the Lionheart, out with his knights. William des Preaux wishes they return to Jaffa, but he refuses. Leaving the Tardis the travellers are ambushed by the Saracans and Barbara is captured by them. William des Preaux pretends to be Richard to protect the wounded king and is captured too. The Doctor, Ian and Vicki take William de Tornebu back to Jaffa & Richard's court, stealing clothes from the market stall of Ben Daheer on the way. Barbara and des Preaux are taken by El Akir to Saphadin, the brother of the Sultan Saladin, who mistakes them for King Richard and his sister Joanna. Saphadin and Saladin see through the deception but are intrigued by Barbara when she tells them of her journeys. William de Tornebu is delivered to the king, but the king is in foul mood and won't assist them: as far as he's concerned she can stay with Saladin until she rots.

I've said before that I'm not a great fan of the historical stories. This episode leaves me cold but I can't see anything actually wrong with it. It is a straight take on the story and as such lacks the comedy elements of Reign of Terror and the Romans which I liked better.

The Crusade is the first full Doctor Who story directed by Douglas Camfield. We should note the appearance of a future Camfield regular in the cast: as El Akir we have Walter Randall, who'd already been in the Aztecs. He'll be back again several times though it's a few years till his most famous Doctor Who roll. Also to return for Camfield is Reg Pritchard. Come back for The Dalek Masterplan episode 7 for a neat little in-joke involving him.

The Lion is another episode of Doctor Who that was missing and has been returned. The Crusade as a story was bought by New Zealand television but was never screened there and ended up in storage in Wellington. At some point The Lion was separated from it's three companions and in 1974 was scheduled to be destroyed in a landfill. However en route it and several (320!) other cans of film were "retrieved" by a local collector. We know from surviving paperwork that The Lion was the only Doctor Who episode in this batch of films scheduled for destruction. The episode passed through a number of hands before coming into the collection of Bruce Grenville. He showed it to some Doctor Who fans who identified it as missing and arranged for it's return to the BBC. The print is quite badly damaged, it's bar far the worst looking episode available on DVD - the damage is detailed at The Restoration Team's website article on the video release (with episode 3 of the Crusade and all 4 episodes of the Space Museum and again for their article on The Lost In Time DVD set which is how I've watched it today. At the time of writing The Lion is the penultimate episode of Doctor Who to be returned to the archives.

1 comment:

  1. The novelisation of this story, borrowed from my local library, was one of my early experiences of Doctor Who. I think that may be part of the reason I like the historicals as much as I do. I had to wait a long time to actually see any of this story but for me it was worth the wait.

    A lot of this episode is set up admittedly which I guess does mean there is less to get the teeth into than there might otherwise be. I cannot, however, help but get a good chuckle out of the sight of the Doctor and Vicki stealing clothes from the market stall. They both seem to be taking a certain amount of impish glee in their own cleverness which does rather amuse me.