Number : Season 2, serial 6 of 9.

Which One : The Crusades.

Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Ian : William Russell
Barbara : Jacqueline Hill
Vicki : Maureen O’ Brien
El Akir : Walter Randall
Saphadin : Roger Avon
Saladin : Bernard Kay
Richard the Lionheart : Julian Glover
Reynier de Marun : David Anderson
William de Tornebu : Bruce Wightman
William des Preaux : John Flint
Ben Daheer : Reg Pritchard
Thatcher : Tony Caunter
Joanna : Jean Marsh
Luigi Ferrigo : Gábor Baraker
Earl of Leicester : John Bay
Chamberlain : Robert Lankesheer
Haroun : George Little
Sadiya : Petra Markham
Maimuna : Sandra Hampton
Sheyrah : Zohra Segal
Fatima : Viviane Sorrél
Hafsa : Diana McKenzie
Ibrahim : Tutte Lemkow
Turkish Bandit : David Brewster
Man-at-Arms : Billy Cornelius

Written By : David Whitaker

First UK Broadcast : 27 March – 17 April 1965.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Episodes :
1) “The Lion”
2) “The Knight of Jaffa”
3) “The Wheel of Fortune”
4) “The Warlords”

Plot : The Tardis takes the Doctor to 12th century Palestine, right in the midst of the Third Crusade; meeting King Richard Lionheart and his Saracen opponent Saladin.

Whats good : It’s one of the better period numbers. Ian as a Knight. Julian Glover. Bernard Kay. Walter Randall. John Bay’s “learned men” argument – with the Doctor.

Whats bad : That the Beeb criminally allowed episodes 2 & 4 to be junked. Vicki is given nothing to do.

Review With Spoilers : The Crusade is the sixth serial of season 2 and the fourth period drama – in the series.

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki land the Tardis in 12th century Palestine, right in the middle of a war between Richard Lionheart and Saladin.

As the Doctor and Ian fight off a Saracen ambush, Barbara is kidnapped (in the confusion) by the Saracens and the Doctor journeys to the court of King Richard Lionheart – to gain favour with the King.
The Crusade is a strong and engaging period drama. Probably the best, that Hartnell’s era conceived. This is due – in part to the strong performances of the supporting cast.

Character actor Julian Glover is excellent as Richard Lionheart; a tortured, self-doubtful and impulsive war-mongering king. Whilst Saladin is played as a cunning but wary Sultan of the Saracrens.

“In the name of God, Saint Michael, and Saint George, we dub you Sir Ian, Knight of Jaffa. Arise Sir Ian, and be valiant!” Richard Lionheart

Likewise, The Earl Of Leicester and El Akir both impress as secondary antagonists and Doctor Who regular; Jean Marsh – as the ‘tough-as-nails’ Princess Joanna.

It would be easy to play the Saracens off – merely as savage boogeymen. However, Doctor Who presents a fair take on both sides of the conflict, laying bare the less than virtuous regimes; warts-and-all.

A tortured and unsure – King Richard is beset by a decadent and viceful army, who prefer to drink and cavort in the streets of Jerusalem.

Saladin – on the other hand, is surrounded by able and treacherous generals, who perceive his lack of direct force – against the infidels; as weakness.

The Crusade gives companion Ian his greatest turn yet, decked out in Knight’s armour and representative of the King. He even gets the honour of being knighted by King Richard and later, tortured by ants; by being staked out in the desert and covered in honey!

It is a shame though, that the Beeb allowed the entire serial to be junked in line with their shameful 60’s practice of deleting seroals to re-use tapes. Luckily, episodes 1 & 3 were eventually retrieved and 2 & 4 have audio recordings made.

With strong performances, well-written dialogue and an entertaining story, which skips along nicely. The Crusade is the kind of history lesson that should be shown to kids in school – it is as entertaining; as it is informative.

🔵🔵🔵🔵🔘 (4.5/5)

Old Doctor Who

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