Doctor Who – The Crusade. Episode Three – The Wheel of Fortune

crusade

The Wheel of Fortune is the best episode of The Crusade and it has several moments of special interest, such as Haroun’s life story as told to Barbara, the conversation between Leicester and the Doctor and the confrontation between Richard and Joanna.

Haroun (George Little) lives for one reason only – to kill El Akir.  He describes to Barbara the reason why.

HAROUN: Last year my house was a fine and happy place. A gentle wife, a son who honoured and obeyed me, and two daughters who adorned whatever place they visited. Then El Akir came to Lydda and imposed his will. He desired my eldest daughter Maimuna, but I refused him.
BARBARA: So he took her?
HAROUN: Yes. When Safiya and I were away, he came and burned my house. My wife and son were put to the sword.

It’s a perfectly pitched and dignified performance by George Little.  Whilst the character invites our sympathy, Little never overplays – instead he allows the script to do the work.  Equally good is Petra Markham as Safiya.  Her father has never explained what happened to the rest of their family, but she has faith that all will be well.  “It is a strange mystery. They’ve gone away and we must simply wait for their return. It is the will of Allah“.

Jacqueline Hill is so good in these scenes – listening in horror to Haroun’s story and also when she nearly reveals the truth to Safiya about her missing family.  Another key moment is when Haroun leaves Safiya in Barbara’s care.  He leaves his knife behind and insists that she use it to kill Safiya and then herself if they’re discovered by El Akir’s men.  Barbara is appalled (“No. Life is better than this.“) but Haroun is insistent. It’s another well played moment from Hill which helps to reinforce just how cruel El Akir must be.

The spat between the Doctor and the Earl of Leicester (John Bay) is a very interesting one.  It’s another of Whitaker’s lovely Shakespearian pastiches that Hartnell and Bay both deliver with aplomb.  Although the Doctor usually takes the moral high ground, he doesn’t really have it here.  His dismissal of Leicester as having no brain doesn’t seem at all fair.  Leicester is a soldier, trained to fight, and it’s difficult to argue with his statement that  “armies settle everything”.  And as Richard’s plan wasn’t recorded in the history books, the Hartnell Doctor, who at this stage was insistent that “you can’t rewrite history, not one line”, would have surely known that the love-match was doomed to end in failure.

LEICESTER: Sire, with all the strength at my command I urge you, sire, to abandon this pretence of peace.
DOCTOR: Pretence, sir? Here’s an opportunity to save the lives of many men and you do naught but turn it down without any kind of thought. What do you think you are doing?
LEICESTER: I speak as a soldier. Why are we here in this foreign land if not to fight? The Devil’s horde, Saracen and Turk, posses Jerusalem and we will not wrest it from them with honeyed words.
DOCTOR: With swords, I suppose?
LEICESTER: Aye, with swords and lances, or the axe.
DOCTOR: You stupid butcher! Can you think of nothing else but killing, hmm?
LEICESTER: You’re a man for talk, I can see that. You like a table and a ring of men. A parley here, arrangements there, but when you men of eloquence have stunned each other with your words, we, we the soldiers, have to face it out. On some half-started morning while you speakers lie abed, armies settle everything, giving sweat, sinewed bodies, aye, and life itself.
DOCTOR: I admire bravery and loyalty, sir. You have both of these. But, unfortunately you haven’t any brain at all. I hate fools.

Saladin and Saphadin discuss the marriage proposal.  Saladin is extremely cautious.

Have England, France and all the rest come here to cheer a man and woman and a love match? No, this is a last appeal for peace from a weary man. So you write your letter and I’ll alert the armies. Then on either day, the day of blissful union or the day of awful battle, we will be prepared.

And sadly, that’s the last we see of Saladin and Saphadin as they, along with Joanna, don’t feature in the final episode.  This does give The Warlords something of an anti-climatic feel, but we’ll discuss that in more detail next time.

When Joanna learns that Richard plans to marry her off to Saphadin, it’s fair to say that she’s not pleased.  The scene is a thrilling moment, as both Julian Glover and Jean Marsh attack it at full-throttle.  It’s hard to find many examples of Doctor Who scenes pitched at such a level – which probably makes this one all the more special.

JOANNA: What’s this I hear? I can’t believe it’s true. Marriage to that heathenish man, that infidel?
RICHARD: We will give you reasons for it.
JOANNA: This unconsulted partner has no wish to marry. I am no sack of flour to be given in exchange.
RICHARD: It is expedient, the decision has been made.
JOANNA: Not by me, and never would be.
RICHARD: Joanna, please consider. The war is full of weary, wounded men. This marriage wants a little thought by you, that’s all, then you’ll see the right of it.
JOANNA: And how would you have me go to Saphadin? Bathed in oriental perfume, I suppose? Suppliant, tender and affectionate? Soft-eyed and trembling, eager with a thousand words of compliment and love? Well, I like a different way to meet the man I am to wed!
RICHARD: Well, if it’s a meeting you want.
JOANNA: I do not want! I will not have it!
RICHARD: Joanna!

As this is the last surviving episode of the story, it’s worth taking a moment to praise Douglas Camfield’s direction.  He always had an eye for unusual angles and some of the caps below are good examples of how he arranged the actors in interesting configurations (some in the foreground and others in the background, for example).  It helps to make the frame more interesting than just having them stand in a line (something many other directors would have been content to do).

Barbara is back in El Akir’s clutches at the end of the episode (and it’s the second that’s ended with Barbara in peril).  El Akir’s final words here are truly chilling, thanks to Walter Randall’s matter-of-fact delivery.  If El Akir had been an eye-rolling villain then it would have been easier to discount his threats.  It’s his calmness that’s somewhat disquieting.

The only pleasure left for you is death. And death is very far away.

Next Episode – The Warlords

Doctor Who – The Crusade. Episode Two – The Knight of Jaffa

knight

Richard’s in something of a better temper at the start of this episode – in part this is due to the Doctor’s wily manoeuvrings.  It’s also interesting to note how the Doctor has easily lapsed into the speech patterns at Richard’s court, he’s started throwing “methinks” around quite casually!

RICHARD: There is a jest here, albeit a grim one with our friends dead. But Saladin must be just as much out of temper over this affair as we are.
DOCTOR: Your messenger might offer to exchange a hundred prisoners for the knight he holds.
RICHARD: We think we value Sir William highly. We do, but it would not be good to let Saladin know.
DOCTOR: He might think you undervalue his men. One hundred men to one of yours. Methinks a fair bargain, sire.
RICHARD: By my father’s name, you have wit, old man. Guard, call the Chamberlain. We recognise the service you have rendered us and will be pleased to see you in our court.

With the Doctor and his friends in Richard’s debt, this allows Ian (once he’s been knighted as Sir Ian, Knight of Jaffa) to begin his quest to find Barbara.  This also handily removes William Russell from the main storyline (and he’s on holiday next week, so only appears briefly on film).  When a story rich in plot-threads like The Crusade only lasts four episodes, it can be a problem finding things for everybody to do, so this simplifies matters – the Doctor and Vicki remain at court and Barbara finds herself in the clutches of El Akir.

As with first episode, David Whitaker’s dialogue (especially when spoken by actors as good as Julian Glover) is something to savour.  Richard ponders the strange relationship he has with Saladin –

Saladin sends me presents of fruit and snow when I am sick, and now his brother decorates you with his jewels. Yet with our armies do we both lock in deadly combat, watering the land with a rain of blood, and the noise of thunder is drowned in the shouts of dying men.

The notion that Saladin’s brother, Saphadin, is captivated by Joanna (Jean Marsh), Richard’s sister, sets the King thinking.  Could this be a way to bring the war to an end? He sets about drafting a proposal, although crucially, he doesn’t think to speak to Joanna first.

And not only this kingdom, its towns and fortresses, shall be yours, but also the Frankish kingdom. Our sister, the Princess Joanna, whose beauty is already spoken of wherever men of judgement and discernment are, is a fit match for one who not only enjoys so grand. No, not grand, eminent. So eminent a brother as the Sultan Saladin but who also possesses an element of his own. Prince Saphadin, we beg you to prefer this match and thus make us your brother.

Richard is pleased with this and takes the Doctor and his friends into his confidence and this helps to bring them back into the main narrative.  A story like this, focusing on the machinations of Kings, will inevitably tend to sideline the Doctor – although this isn’t something that David Whitaker necessarily had a problem with.  He was of the opinion that when the Doctor traveled back in time he should be content to be merely an observer and not interfere.  Dennis Spooner (as can be seen in The Romans and The Time Meddler) had the opposite view, so this story (written by Whitaker, script-edited by Spooner) could be seen as something of an uneasy compromise between the two.

But even if the Doctor is something of a passive figure here, he does have some fun by bamboozling his adversaries.  There’s another fine example in this episode, as we see the Doctor runs rings around the unfortunate Chamberlain.

DOCTOR: What’s this?
DAHEER: Visitor of sorrows, depriver of my children, robber of my goods.
DOCTOR: Who is this? Do you know?
VICKI: No. Oh, his face is a bit familiar.
CHAMBERLAIN: You stole some clothing.
DOCTOR: Really?
CHAMBERLAIN: You see this riding habit? It was taken from this very room. Now it is back here again.
DOCTOR: And a pretty poor garment, too.
CHAMBERLAIN: This and this, stolen from me.
DAHEER: And stolen from me.
DOCTOR: Yes, now there really is a point there, isn’t there? If I stole from you, my lord Chamberlain, how could I steal from him?
DAHEER: You did. You did steal from me.
DOCTOR: Then how could I steal from him, eh, you blockhead?
CHAMBERLAIN: Please, please. Now, I had the clothes first.
DOCTOR: Oh, how nice for you.
DAHEER: And I had them second.
VICKI: Did you buy them?
DAHEER: Yes.
VICKI: From us?
DAHEER: No.
DOCTOR: Then whoever it was stole them from you must have sold them to you. Now, don’t you agree?
CHAMBERLAIN: Er, yes.

The episode ends with Barbara escaping from El Akir’s guards.  She runs through the streets of Lydda, desperate for a hiding place.  But will she find friend or foe?

Next Episode – The Wheel of Fortune

Doctor Who – The Crusade. Episode One – The Lion

crusade

The Crusade brings the TARDIS to the Holy Land at the time of the Cruades.  Whilst the Doctor, Ian and Vicki join the court of Richard (Julian Glover), Barbara finds herself in the enemy camp, captured by the evil El Akir (Walter Randall) and brought face to face with Saladin (Bernard Kay).

Given that this story was made in 1965, it does have a rather surprising revisionist feel about it.  Since Richard the Lionheart had for so long been portrayed as one of England’s greatest heroes (the Robin Hood saga often hinges on the hope that one day Richard will return to right the wrongs of his brother) he’s a far less heroic character in this story.

The episode opens with Richard and his friends relaxing in the forest.  Sir William des Preaux (John Flint) fears an attack – but Richard arrogantly dismisses his fears.  Of course, des Preaux was correct and many of Richard’s friends are slain.  And though it’s never overtly stated, it’s implied that Richard ran away, leaving his friends either dead or dying.

Barbara and William des Preaux are captured by the Saracens, whilst the only other survivor (apart from Richard himself) is Sir William de Tornebu (Bruce Wightman).  de Tornebu owes his life to the intervention of the TARDIS crew – thanks mostly to Ian, although the Doctor plays his part (and it’s lovely to see William Hartnell in fighting mode!).

William des Preaux claims to be the King, in order to draw attention away from Richard.  Although this is where the cramped nature of the studios is quite noticeable – as good a director as Douglas Camfield was, it’s impossible not to notice that Richard was lying very close to where des Preaux was captured.  It’s therefore difficult to believe that El Akir and the other Saracens couldn’t see him.

After the Doctor finds some suitable clothes for himself, Ian and Vicki (via some comedy business that Hartnell always excelled at) there are two main scenes left in the episode – Barbara’s meeting with Saladin and the Doctor, Ian and Vicki’s first encounter with Richard.

Despite being caked in brown make-up, Bernard Kay is chilling as Saladin.  He has the power of life and death over Barbara – and many others as well – but he has no need to be demonstrative.  He’s thoughtful, restrained and articulate as he probes the reason for Barbara’s presence.

SALADIN: Please talk. It helps me to consider what I have to do with you.
BARBARA: Well, I could say that I’m from another world, a world ruled by insects. And before that we were in Rome at the time of Nero. Before that we were in England, far, far into the future.
SALADIN: Now I understand, you and your friends, you are players, entertainers.
SAPHADIN: With little value in an exchange of prisoners with the English King, brother. This is a trivial affair. I do not know why you waste your time.
SALADIN: I cannot dispense life and death lightly. If Sir William is to be returned, he must make good report of our mercy. Perhaps that is the factor in your favour.
BARBARA: I don’t believe you’re as calculating as that.
SALADIN: Then learn more of me. You must serve my purpose or you have no purpose. Grace my table tonight in more suitable clothes. If your tales beguile me, you shall stay and entertain.
BARBARA: Like Scheherazade.
SALADIN: Over whose head hung sentence of death.

By contrast, Julian Glover’s Richard is highly emotional.  He berates the loss of his friends, although it’s difficult not to concede that his own reckless actions were, in part, responsible.  The Crusade is one of those stories where, as we’ll discuss later, the Doctor and his friends are largely superfluous.  Julian Glover is so good (and he’s provided with some lovely Shakespearean-type speeches by David Whitaker) that it’s very easy to imagine this story as a straight play without the TARDIS crew being present.

Once again, I am in your debt. But I’d give this for de Marun and the others. My friends cut down about my ears or stolen. My armies roust about the streets and clutter up the streets of Jaffa with the garbage of their vices. And now I learn my brother John thirsts after power, drinking great draughts of it though it’s not his to take. He’s planning to usurp my crown, and trade with my enemy, Philip of France. Trade! A tragedy of fortunes and I am too much beset by them. A curse on this! A thousand curses!

Next Episode – The Knight of Jaffa

Obituary – Bernard Kay (1928 – 2014)

bernard kay - colony in space

I was sorry to hear about the recent death of Bernard Kay.  He had a lengthy career with some notable film appearances (such as Doctor Zhivago & Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger) but many of his best performances were on television.

And one of his finest small-screen appearances must be the Tweedledum episode of Colditz (transmitted on the 21st of December 1972).  Michael Bryant played Wing Commander George Marsh, who decided to fake madness in order to get released from Colditz and gain repatriation to Britain.  Kay was Hartwig, the German soldier assigned to watch him.  Initially, Hartwig was convinced that Marsh was a fake and sought to prove this by various humiliating means.  Eventually though, he’s convinced and it’s Kay’s compassion that moved the story to another level.

Bernard Kay would become a familiar screen presence for decades, appearing in many popular series such as Out of the Unknown, Redcap, No Hiding Place, The Baron, Adam Adamant Lives!, Softly Softly, The Champions, Budgie, Z Cars, The Sweeney, Space 1999, Survivors, The Professionals, Grange Hill, Dick Turpin, Tales of the Unexpected, The Bill, Juliet Bravo, Remington Steele, London’s Burning, Coronation Street, Jonathan Creek, Foyle’s War and TV Burp amongst many, many others.

He also made four appearances in Doctor Who, between 1964 and 1971.  The first, The Dalek Invasion of Earth was opposite William Hartnell and he played Tyler – a member of the Earth resistance fighting the Daleks.  A few months later he returned to the series, as Saladin in David Whitaker’s The Crusade.

Since Kay (along with several other actors) was browned-up in The Crusade, this might mean that some people would view the story today as politically incorrect, but Whitaker’s script certainly wasn’t.  Kay’s Saladin isn’t a monster – indeed he seems to be just as rational as Julian Glover’s Richard the Lionheart (possibly more so).  As Richard blusters, Saladin is content to remain cold and logical.  It’s Kay’s best Doctor Who performance.

A few years later, he played Inspector Crossland opposite Patrick Troughton’s Doctor in The Faceless Ones and would make his final appearance in the series in 1971.  Jon Pertwee was the Doctor at the time and whilst the story (Colony in Space) is a little dull, Kay was, as usual, very good – this time as Caldwell, a man who finds himself increasingly at odds with his IMC (Interplanetary Mining Company) colleagues.

Kay was born in Bolton in 1928, and following his National Service he trained to become an actor at the Old Vic Theatre School.  Although the majority of his work was either on television or film, he was no stranger to the Theatre.  One notable early performance was as Macbeth in the Nottingham Playhouse’s production of  1952.  When the actor playing Macbeth had to pull out, Kay stepped into the part – with only 24 hours to learn the role.

Bernard Kay was always somebody who spoke his mind – and this is demonstrated in these fascinating interviews, conduced by Toby Hadoke for his Who’s Round Project – Part One and Part Two.  At times painfully frank, they provide a good insight into the personality of a fine character actor.