The Five Faces of Doctor Who

five-faces

It’s a little staggering to realise that The Five Faces of Doctor Who repeat season began airing in early November 1981.  Thirty five years, where has the time gone?

Back then, the eighteen year old An Unearthly Child and even The Krotons (a mere thirteen years old) seemed like relics from a different age.  The flickery black and white telerecordings had a lot to do with that of course, the lack of colour made them appear much older than they actually were.  But it’s still more than a little strange that Survival seems like a much more current story today than An Unearthly Child did then, despite the fact that Survival is a whopping twenty seven years old.  Funny thing time …..

If you weren’t there, it’s difficult to describe just how important The Five Faces of Doctor Who was.  Old Doctor Who didn’t get repeated and the first commercially available story wouldn’t hit the shelves until 1983.  So if you wanted to get a feel for pre-Baker Doctor Who then your options were rather limited – Target novelisations were your best bet, although there were also the World Distributors annuals (even if their vision of the Doctor Who universe was idiosyncratic, to put it kindly).

Factual information could be gleaned from Doctor Who Weekly and Doctor Who Monthly, whilst a small handful of books – The Making of Doctor Who, The Doctor Who Monster Book – also offered tantalising glimpses of these “lost” stories.  After all, back then we weren’t concerned about the stories which were actually missing from the archives, everything from the past was as good as lost to us.

And then in early November 1981 we had the chance to see how it all started.  I’ve written here about how I view An Unearthly Child today, rewinding thirty five years I’m pretty sure I was just as taken with it then.  Three episodes of caveman antics might not be to everyone’s tastes, but the grime and despair of those episodes fitted perfectly with the dark winter evenings in 1981 (just as they would have done in 1963).  I loved it then and I love it now and I know I always will.

The Krotons had a bit of a bumpier ride.  My ten-year-old self found the story a little thin, but Troughton (like Hartnell) impressed right from the start.  It’s a story I’ve grown to appreciate a little more over the years, as it’s perfect undemanding fare.  And the lovely Wendy Padbury wears a very short skirt, which is nice.

If the internet had existed in 1981 then no doubt it would have gone into meltdown after Carnival of Monsters and The Three Doctors were broadcast the wrong way round.  Carnival, thanks to Vorg and Shirna, looked a little odd back then, and it would take a few more watches before the cleverness of Robert Holmes’ script became clear to me.  The Three Doctors is good fun, nothing more, nothing less.  It was nice to see the Brig in action for the first time though, even if I’d later realise we weren’t really seeing him at his best here.

Logopolis was an obvious choice, as Castrovalva was less than a month away from broadcast (and since it featured Davison’s sole appearance to date, if they hadn’t shown this one then the Five Faces tag wouldn’t have worked).  Since it was a current story it rather lacked the “wow” feeling of the others, but in the pre-VHS age, “another chance to see” was always welcome and following this broadcast I wouldn’t see it again for nearly a decade (a pirate copy came my way in the late eighties).

I’m off to recreate those winter evenings from 1981 with a rewatch over the next few weeks of those five serials – splendid stories, all of them.

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Doctor Who – The Three Doctors

three

Since yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of Jon Pertwee’s death, it seemed rather fitting to watch one of his Doctor Who stories as a small tribute.  But which one?  After a few moments deliberation I plumped for The Three Doctors.  It may not be the best Third Doctor story, nor is it the strongest showcase for Pertwee’s talents,  but it’s undeniably good fun.  And after a hectic week, it was the ideal way to welcome the arrival of the weekend …..

Pertwee’s Doctor was a curious mix of arrogance and charm.  His arrogance is at its height in his early seasons, where the Doctor is clearly still more than a little miffed that the Time Lords have exiled him to Earth and decides to take it out on just about every human he meets.  Not even poor Jo escapes his snappy nature and thoughtlessness (the sandwiches scene in The Sea Devils is presumably designed to be humorous but it just makes the Doctor appear self-centered and insensitive).

By The Three Doctors he was clearly mellowing, although he can’t resist aiming a few jibes at the Brigadier.  But the most interesting example of the Doctor’s regal nature occurs in episode one, when he and Jo return to UNIT HQ after investigating the mysterious disappearance of Mr Ollis.  As the Doctor enters the lab, he shrugs off his cloak without a backward glance – no doubt fully confident that Jo (as she was) would be there to take it off him and hang it up.  It’s the briefest of non-verbal moments, but it’s something that speaks volumes about the relationship between the Doctor and Jo.  It’s hard to imagine some of the Doctor’s later companions being quite so pliant and biddable!

But somehow Katy Manning manages to make it all work.  Jo could easily have turned out to be nothing more than a doormat, but Katy’s humour (and undeniable sexiness) help to prevent Jo from being the cardboard cipher she otherwise could have been.  However, whilst Jo’s in pretty good form in this one, what’s happened to the Brigadier?  The Time Monster was the first example of the dumbing down of the Brig and it’s a process continued here.

Luckily it’s only a short-term thing and he’s back to his normal self by The Green Death, but the Brig’s sadly at his most pompous and blinkered in this story.  When it works (his sublime double-take as he spots Troughton’s Doctor for the first time or his reaction to the inside of the TARDIS) it’s brilliant, but there are times when the script seems to treating him as little more than a figure of fun, which is a far cry from the efficient soldier of season seven.

There’s something which has always bugged me about the first episode.  When the Doctor and the others find themselves under attack from the jelly organism they take refuge in the TARDIS.  The Doctor attempts to take off, but tells Jo that he can’t because the organism is preventing him.  What?!  He’s been exiled to Earth for three years and during all that time the TARDIS, unless it’s been under the control of the Time Lords or another outside force (such as Axos), has been immobile.  A sloppy piece of scripting, fire the script editor I say!

The Gell Guards are highly amusing but also not in the least threatening and the brief battle between them and the UNIT soldiers (“holy moses”) isn’t exactly one of UNIT’s finest moments.  But the always reliable Pat Gorman is lurking about, so that’s some small consolation.

With the Doctor and the Time Lords facing the same crisis (an energy drain from a mysterious black hole) there’s little the Time Lords can do to help the stricken Doctor.  But wait, there’s just enough energy to lift the second Doctor from his timestream.  Hurrah!  The return of Troughton’s Doctor is a joyful moment and even if his Doctor has deliberately been written down at times to make the Pertwee Doctor the dominant force (“what’s a bridge for?”) then he’s still a highly entertaining force of nature.

He’s possibly at his best in episode two, after the Third Doctor and Jo have crossed over to the black hole.  This leaves the Second Doctor back at UNIT HQ with the Brig and Benton for company.  To be honest, this entire episode is little more than padding for all three of them (the Doctor achieves nothing in his fight against the organism, so they all could have travelled into the black hole at the start, rather than the end, of the episode).  But the run-around nature of this instalment isn’t really an issue, because it’s all such fun.

There’s the Brig’s shock at seeing the old Doctor back, but even better is the working relationship between the Doctor and Benton.  Originally it seems that Jamie was also scripted to appear, so no doubt he would have performed Benton’s role here.  But luckily for John Levene that didn’t happen, enabling Benton to get a decent share of the action.  Mind you, Levene does seem to be on the verge of corpsing several times and has to pull the most extraordinary faces in order to prevent this.

The brief appearances of the First Doctor is the icing on the cake, even if it’s tempered by how frail William Hartnell looked.  Although he wasn’t that old at the time, illness had taken a heavy toll, leaving him unable to learn even the simplest of lines.  His balance wasn’t terribly good either, so several stage-hands had to prop him up into the capsule – to prevent him from toppling out.  But with the aid of cue-cards held off camera he still managed to capture the authoritative spirit of the original Doctor and, ill as he was, there’s a little touch of magic about these scenes.

If you wanted loud, then you booked Stephen Thorne.  He was loud as Azal in The Daemons and he was even louder in his (mercifully brief) appearance as Eldrad in The Hand of Fear.  As Omega, he starts fairly quietly but then works himself up into a frenzy by episode four.  No doubt we’re supposed to feel sorrow for the tragic Omega, but by the end, as I’m reaching for the remote control to turn him down, I just wish he’d tone it down a little.  Thorne can also do subtle (he’s a gifted audiobook reader and doesn’t tend to rant and rave on those) so it’s a pity he wasn’t encouraged to be a little more restrained here.

Once everybody makes the trip to Omega’s domain the story becomes something of a runaround – highlighted by Dr Tyler’s (Rex Robinson) totally pointless attempt to escape.  But Pertwee’s Doctor does have a decent fight scene – battling the demons from Omega’s mind in a slow-motion dreamscape – and the bickering between the Second and Third Doctors never fails to raise a smile.

So it’s not perfect, but there’s no doubt that The Three Doctors is a very pleasant way to while away 100 minutes.

CGI Reconstructions of the missing Doctor Who episodes on YouTube

I’ve been rather impressed with a series of CGI recons that have appeared on YouTube during the past couple of months.  At present, all of Marco Polo and the two missing episodes from The Crusade are up and the intention seems to be that all ninety seven episodes will be tackled in time.

There’s some undeniable rough edges which could benefit from additional work, but for now what’s been posted is certainly very watchable.  Below is episode one of Marco PoloThe Roof of the World.

Doctor Who – More than Thirty Years in the TARDIS

more than

One thing that the range of Doctor Who DVDs (from An Unearthly Child to the TVM) isn’t short of is documentaries.  Just about every release has a plethora of supplementary information – from story-specific features, interviews with people from both in-front of and behind the camera to more tangential featurettes (such as The Blood Show from the State of Decay DVD.  A twenty minute documentary on the use and meaning of blood in society?  No, me neither).

But back at the start of the 1990’s, things were very different.  The only British-made documentary screened during the series’ original twenty-six year run was 1977’s Whose Doctor Who.  Reeltime Pictures catered for the fan market during the 1980’s and 1990’s with the MythMakers series of interview videos, but these (like VHS releases of convention panels) were only preaching to the converted.  A mainstream documentary on BBC1 seemed like a remote possibility.

But 1993 was Doctor Who’s 30th anniversary and even if the show had been off the air since 1989, it still had a certain presence (thanks to healthy VHS sales).  Kevin Davies was keen to make a documentary celebrating the program and he had an impressive calling card – The Making of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – a popular straight to video documentary that mixed archive footage, outtakes and new interviews.

Thirty Years in the TARDIS was to eventually take very much the same shape – although prior to this format being agreed Davies made numerous other pitches which were rejected.  These included Tomb of the Time Lords which would have featured Ace searching the Doctor’s memory in the Matrix – which would have provided the excuse for a series of clips.  Another intriguing possibility was The Legend Begins, a drama-documentary about the creation of the series (Davies suggested Pete Postlewaite as Hartnell).  We would have to wait another twenty years, and Mark Gatiss’ An Adventure in Space and Time, for this idea to eventually hit the screen.

Thirty Years in the TARDIS was produced by The Late Show team and although Davies had been given a free hand, some higher-ups became concerned with the approach used.  Davies wanted to take the nostalgic route to try and pinpoint why Doctor Who had been such as success whilst The Late Show team felt that the documentary should have a more factual basis and so additional interview material was shot.

In the end, this made the transmitted version a rather uneasy comprise between Davies and his producers.  But even though it was a bit of a hodge-podge, there were still plenty of impressive moments (especially the drama recreations).  However, Davies still felt that there was a better documentary that could be made from the material and so in 1994 More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS was released on VHS.

Davies had free reign to re-edit the program to his wishes as well as adding an additional forty minutes (bringing the running time up to ninety minutes).  From the perspective of 2015 it’s just another documentary, but back in 1994 it was something rather special.

Although the pirate video network (see Cheques, Lies and Videotape on the Revenge of the Cybermen DVD for more info) was still flourishing at the time (which meant that some of the rarer material featured – studio outtakes, for example – were in circulation) not everybody had access to them.  So a major draw of the VHS were the snippets from studio sessions, including The Claws of Axos and Death to the Daleks , as well as ephemera like the Tom Baker/Lalla Ward Prime Computer adverts.  Even the end credits were fascinating, as they were packed with clips of studio off-cuts.

Jon Pertwee, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy were interviewed, but Tom Baker and Peter Davison were conspicuous by their absence.  Tom did make an appearance via archive footage though and given that many anecdotes were already calcified by this time (yes, Jon Pertwee does mention Yetis in Tooting-Bec!) this probably wasn’t too much of a drawback.

One notable new section concerned the thorny issue about who exactly created the Daleks (was it Terry Nation, Raymond Cusick or Davros?).  This discussion was intercut with Jon Pertwee’s appearance on the Anne and Nick show where he disagreed that it was Terry Nation (much to the amusement of the studio crew!).

The DVD release of More Than is pretty much a direct port of the VHS master which means that many of the clips look rather grotty.  Along with the staggering number of special features, the amount of restoration work carried out the DVD releases is really highlighted when you see exactly how badly the stories used to look.

If you didn’t live through the 1990’s as a Doctor Who fan, then More Than is probably not going to have the same special appeal today as it did then.  Just about every scrap of interesting material can be found in a more complete form somewhere on the DVD range (you want the whole studio spool from The Claws of Axos? You’ve got it) but More Than does manage to compress twenty six years of history into an entertaining ninety minutes.

This obvious nostalgia apart, it remains a very decent documentary that does its best to explain the magic of the series and I’m glad it ended up on DVD.

Part of William Hartnell’s Desert Island Discs interview found

hartnell

A section of William Hartnell’s 1965 Desert Island Discs interview (running for about 15 minutes) has just been returned to the BBC Archives, together with complete DID’s featuring the Reverend W Awdry, Diana Rigg and Louis Armstrong.  The Louis Armstrong DID was Armstrong’s own personal copy, whilst the others have been donated by listeners.

You can listen or download the Hartnell interview here or alternatively listen via the YouTube clip at the bottom of the post.

Although it’s a shame that the DID excerpt cuts off just before he talks about Doctor Who, it’s lovely to have this chance to hear the man talk.  Audio or film interviews with William Hartnell are incredibly scarce – and this, along with the short film interview included on The Tenth Planet DVD, offer a rare chance to hear the thoughts of Hartnell, the man.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, below is a transcript of the section of Hartnell’s DID that covers his conversation about Doctor Who.  The material in brackets was excised from the finished programme.

Hartnell: And playing this part, strangely enough, led to the part of Dr. Who.

Plomley: Yes.

Hartnell: Because it so ha.. turned out that after playing Dr. Who for several months Verity Lambert, my producer, [ a very charming and lovable person, ] tol… finally confessed to me that she’d seen the film and she decided that there was her Dr. Who.

Plomley: Yes. How long have you been playing Dr. Who?

Hartnell: Two years.

Plomley: Are they weekly instalments?

Hartnell: Yes, yes.

Plomley: This is pretty hard graft, isn’t it?

Hartnell: Yes. Rehearse all the week and tape them on a Friday.

Plomley: And children do you find the toughest critics?

Hartnell: I certainly do. [ This is where I love playing to children, because you can’t pull the wool over their eyes. And when they write to me, you know, it’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. ]

Plomley: And it doesn’t worry you that after this you may be typecast again as absent-minded professors?

Hartnell: No, my dear boy even if it’s in a bath-chair for the rest of my life.

Plomley: [ Yes. Now this… this of course ] Dr. Who leaves you no time to do anything else.

Hartnell: No, it doesn’t.

Plomley: So this is it for the foreseeable future.

Hartnell: Yes, yes.

Plomley: For many years.

Hartnell: Yes, I think so. They’ve.. they give me pretty well carte blanche and as a matter of fact Verity has said that when the time comes we will give you a bath-chair free.

Plomley: LAUGH

Hartnell: So I said I might take her up on that one day.

Plomley: Right well in the meantime while we’re still young and active let’s have record number five.

Hartnell: Yes. Before I grow another white wig. [ Well now let’s.. let’s change the subject and the theme of music, shall we? I’d like to hear one of Louis Armstrong’s early records. I don’t know when he made it quite. But it’s a trumpet solo, and this.. this man I find fascinating. I remember him when I was quite young. And I think he’s what I call the king-pin of Jazz. And I think the, well I don’t know who else there would be to.. to.. to place in the same category. Anyway let’s.. I’d love to hear this record.

Plomley: What’s the number?

Hartnell: The number is – er –

STUDIO CHAT

BAND 5 – PARTIAL RETAKE

Plomley: How long have you been playing Dr. Who?

Hartnell: 2 years

Plomley: Weekly instalments?

Hartnell: Oh yes.

Plomley: Well this is really hard graft, isn’t it, one.. an instalment of that every week.

Hartnell: Yes, but I enjoy it.

Plomley: Do you like playing to children?

Hartnell: I love them. I love children. Nothing gives me greater delight, because I.. I think they are the greatest critics in the world.

Plomley: Yes. Tough critics.

Hartnell: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. When they write to me they demand sometimes over and above what I can provide, but I send them a photograph and sign it and answer some of their letters. And one little child wrote to me not so long ago, which is rather charming, she said that how much.. she told me in her letter how much she liked the show, and she ended up saying when I grow up I will marry you – aged 4 and a half.

Plomley: LAUGH

Hartnell: Oh yes.

Plomley: Now does it worry you, Bill, that you may be type-cast again as an absent-minded professor?

Hartnell: No, I shall enjoy that tremendously. Even if a bath-chair goes with it. Which brings me to the point of where Verity Lambert, my own producer, said that when the time comes she said we will produce a bath-chair for you – free.

Plomley: Well this sounds as if you’re going to be doing Dr. Who for a good many years.

Hartnell: I’m afraid so.

Plomley: And of course…

Hartnell: Or am I afraid so? I don’t know.

Plomley: It leaves you no time to do anything else.

Hartnell: No, nothing at all – no. It’s once a week and we tape it every Friday.

Doctor Who – The Crusade. Episode Four – The Warlords

warlords

If the previous three episodes of The Crusade tended to concentrate on the court intrigue at both Richard and Saladin’s camps, then The Warlords offers a sharp change of pace.

Saladin, Saphadin and Joanna are all absent and Richard himself only features in a single scene.  He appears here partly to reassure the Doctor and Vicki that he knows they didn’t reveal his plan to Joanna (he was aware it was the Earl of Leicester, but it was politically expedient not to confront him).  The scene also allows the Doctor to inform Vicki and the viewers at home that Richard would, ultimately, be unsuccessful in his aims.  He may only have a short amount of screen-time in The Warlords, but once again Julian Glover is unforgettable.

DOCTOR: There is something important, sire. If you are able to defeat Saladin in this battle, can you hold the city?
RICHARD: Win the battle, lose the war. The greatest fear we have. We’ve come so close. I must see Jerusalem. I must.
DOCTOR: You will, sire.
RICHARD: You think so?
DOCTOR: I am certain, sire. And when you look upon the city itself, you will be able to find the answer to the problem of this war. May we now take our leave, sire?
VICKI: Are we going back to the ship?
DOCTOR: As fast as our legs can carry us, my dear.
VICKI: Doctor, will he really see Jerusalem?
DOCTOR: Only from afar. He won’t be able to capture it. Even now his armies are marching on a campaign that he can never win.
VICKI: That’s terrible. Can’t we tell him?
DOCTOR: I’m afraid not, my dear. No, history must take its course.
(The Doctor and Vicki leave.)
RICHARD: Help me, Holy Sepulchre. Help me.

Ian (still on his mission to find Barbara) has unfortunately run into the villainous Ibrahim (Tutte Lemkow) who has devised a novel way to discover where Ian’s money is stashed.

A little pot of honey, made from pounded dates and very, very sweet. There, my lord, a little bit on your wrists and a little bit on your chest. Now, over there is a hungry home, full of ants that go wild for date honey. We must be generous to them. Lay a little trail across the sand, like this. And I will sit in the shade of the trees and dream of all the treasures I will get when the ants discover you. If you crane your neck around, my lord, you will soon see what you take to be a black line along the honey. Why, you will be able to see it getting closer and closer. My little ones! Such ecstasy!

Lemkow is good value, especially when Ian turns the tables on him and forces the little thief to take him to El Akir’s palace.  From then on, Ibrahim becomes servile and keen to assist Ian (although there’s no doubt that he will be happy to change sides again at the first opportunity).

At the start of the episode Barbara is once again in El Akir’s clutches – although once more she’s able to escape from him him fairly easily.  This unfortunately doesn’t do the character of El Akir any favours – and his limited screen time during the four episodes does ultimately means that he’s not one of Doctor Who’s most tangible or memorable villains.

El Akir is more of a plot-device (initiating the story by attacking Richard and his friends and then kidnapping Barbara to ensure that the Doctor can’t leave) than a fully-rounded character.  If you compare him to the likes of Tegana or Tlotoxl then he seems even more underwritten, although had this story been a six-parter there might have been more scope to develop him.  As it is, he seems to be denied even a particlarly impressive death scene as the soundtrack implies that Haroun quickly dispatches him.  Haroun is therefore able to rescue both his elder daughter Maimuna and Barbara – which unfortunately does rather negate Ian’s mission (he turns up shortly afterwards).  It is a little surprising that Ian doesn’t get the heroic fight with El Akir – particularly since William Russell was well able to handle a sword (he had previously starred in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot).

Ian and Barbara then head for the forest at exactly the same time as the Doctor and Vicki.  This is something of a plot-hole, since it would have been more logical for Ian and Barbara to return to Richard’s court (they had no way of knowing that the Doctor and Vicki had made an enemy of Leicester).  But slightly clumsy though this is, it does give us a nice final scene as Ian is able to spirit the Doctor and Vicki away from under Leicester’s gaze.  Leicester watches in horror as the four time-travellers disappear in the TARDIS and resolves to “not speak of this. Let this story die here in this wood or we’ll be branded idiots, or liars. Poor Sir Ian, brave fellow. Spirited away by fiends. What dreadful anguish and despair he must be suffering now?“.

If The Warlords doesn’t quite match the scale and sweep of the previous three episodes (and who are the Warlords anyway?) overall it’s still a first class story which thanks to the cast and Douglas Camfield manages to transcend the limited budget and studio-space to produce something quite magical.  If the two missing episodes are never recovered, maybe one day animated versions can be produced – as it’s a story that certainly deserves to sit on the shelf alongside the rest of the second season.

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