Monday, 12 June 2017

Inspirations - The Crusade

Often referred to as "The Crusaders", after the novelisation, or "The Lionheart", after its opening episode.
This is writer David Whitaker's first story where he wasn't being called upon to help with some structural aspect of the series. Up to now, he has written a pair of two-parters - one to bring the series up to 13 episodes, in case the programme was going to be cancelled, and to help bridge a gap until Marco Polo was ready to go before the cameras once the series knew it had a future; and the other to introduce the new companion. Here, he gets to write what he wants to write, and he chooses to go for a historical plot, based around an episode of the Third Crusade.
It's also the first full directing credit for the military-minded Douglas Camfield. He has been working on the series since the first story, where he got to direct the film sequences at Ealing. His first directing job on the series was the final, fourth, episode of Planet of Giants. Parts three and four ended up being edited together - but Camfield was allowed to get the on screen credit as most of the composite episode was his.
Time for the latest history lesson. In 1187, the city of Jerusalem fell to Saladin - Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub - who had unified the Saracen forces under his command. King Henry II of England buried the hatchet with old rival King Philip II of France, and together they planned a new Crusade with Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor - specifically to retake the Holy City.
Henry died, and so the English forces came under the command of his son, the new King Richard - Coeur de Lion. On the way to Palestine, Richard collected his sister - Joan - who was the widow of the King of Sicily, and who had been treated badly by the new monarch, Tancred. Richard sacked Messina, and forced a treaty with Tancred. The old Holy Roman Emperor died on his way to the Crusade - drowning whilst crossing a river in what is now Turkey. Many German troops decided to head for home, and those who remained came under the command of the new Emperor - Leopold V.

The Crusade got off to a good start, as the cities of Acre and Jaffa fell - bloodily - to the Europeans. The Doctor Who story joins the narrative at this point. It is late in 1191, and Richard is stuck in Jaffa. He goes hunting one day, and the time travellers arrive in the forest just as the Saracen forces, under the command of the fictional Emir El Akir, attempt to ambush and abduct the King. The ambush was based on a real incident, from November of 1191. It is companion Barbara who ends up kidnapped - threatened with being committed to the Emir's harem. All of the El Akir stuff is based on cliche about nasty Arab potentates - from movies like The Thief of Baghdad or the Sinbad films.
The story treats Saladin much more sympathetically. Parallels are drawn between him and Richard - two warriors who are stuck in an impasse. They are sick of bloodshed, and struggle for a peaceable resolution which protects their reputations.
This leads to the plot point of Richard considering a marriage of his sister to Saladin's brother - Saphadin (Sayf ad-Din). Again this is based on historical fact, but it actually preceded the ambush by a month or so. Joan - or Joanna here - did indeed rebel against this idea and invoked support from the Pope against it.
Whilst the two leaders are presented sympathetically, the English side has a villain to match El Akir - the Earl of Leicester. He isn't an out and out villain - he just thinks that soldiers should fight and not mess about with diplomacy. The Doctor is angered by his single-mindedness and lust for military glory, and so makes an enemy of him. Ian exits the historical aspects of the story to pursue Barbara in the fictional part of the story. On his way, he encounters Tutte Lemkow's devious bandit - another cliched character. He is balanced out by the Arab character whom Barbara has encountered - the honourable Haroun, who opposes El Akir as he killed his wife and son, and abducted his eldest daughter.

Ian and Haroun turn up at the Emir's palace in time to rescue Barbara, and El Akir is killed by Haroun who gets his daughter back. The Doctor has been accused by King Richard of giving away the marriage plot to Joanna, but the King later admits he knows it was Leicester. He suggests that the Doctor and Vicki get out of town, but on their way back to the TARDIS they get caught by the Earl and his men, accused of witchcraft. Ian turns up just in time and claims the right to execute them - having been made a Knight of Jaffa by the King before he set off to rescue Barbara. The Earl agrees - only for Ian to bundle his friends into the ship and so escape off to the next adventure. The Doctor has told Vicki that Richard will see Jerusalem, but never manage to take the city. Again this is based on fact. Richard believed that he might take the city, but would never be able to hold it. In 1192 he left Palestine, after signing a treaty with Saladin that permitted pilgrims and merchants to visit Jerusalem, provided they were unarmed.
David Whitaker was obviously inspired by Shakespeare in his writing of this story, and uses iambic pentameter for some of the dialogue - primarily for some of the guest artists such as Julian Glover's King Richard, Jean Marsh's Joanna, Bernard Kay's Saladin, and John Bay's Earl of Leicester. Simply put, iambic pentameter involves the stress that is made on syllables of speech - where the first syllable is unstressed, but the second one is, and there are five of these in a line. Whitaker also indulges in blank verse - where the lines sound like poetry but don't necessarily rhyme.
Had Julian Glover proved unavailable, Douglas Camfield had another young actor in mind - Nicholas Courtney. He would reuse Jean Marsh, who had been briefly married to future Doctor Jon Pertwee, in his forthcoming epic 12 part Dalek story. Courtney would get a role in this - as Marsh's brother. The Crusade almost saw the first pairing of Courtney and Marsh as brother and sister, and significantly Marsh's third and final appearance would also be alongside Courtney, as the Brigadier was brought back for the Sylvester McCoy story Battlefield. This was based on Arthurian legend. Marsh was Morgaine - based on Morgana Le Fey, who is supposed to have had an incestuous relationship with her brother.
Interestingly, Richard was reputedly incestuously involved with his sister - and this featured in Whitaker's original scripts. William Hartnell objected and this was cut. Glover and Marsh attempted to slip some of this back in during rehearsals. Producer Verity Lambert put her foot down - telling the actors: "Don't think I don't know what you're doing...".
Next time - Morons from Outer Space...


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Poor King Richard I. Accusations of incest to add to the accusations of homosexuality which were also levelled at him (largely based on his childless marriage and the fact that he once shared a bed with King Phillip II of France.) You just couldn't be gay in the 12th century. The church took a very dim view (and some would say still does.) Although of course if you were rich and powerful enough, you could get away with it apart from scandalising the odd churchman (and some churchmen were very odd.) Incest was a definite no no. I believe you could marry your first cousin if you got a papal dispensation, or (in later years) if you were a Hapsburg, in which case it was practically compulsory. Oh what a tangled web we humans weave.

  3. PS the deleted post was full of typos. And you can't edit them which means I had to start over.