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Recap / Doctor Who S2 E6 "The Crusade"

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Vicki: Doctor? Will he really see Jerusalem?
The 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?
The Doctor: I'm afraid not, my dear. No. History must take its course.

Production code: P

The one where Ian nearly gets killed by ants.

Written by David Whitaker. This four-episode serial first aired from March 27 to April 17, 1965.

Episodes: "The Lion", "The Knight of Jaffa" (missing), "The Wheel of Fortune", "The Warlords" (missing).

We're back to history once again, as the TARDIS arrives in 12th century Palestine. Barbara is immediately kidnapped, this time by Saracens. Vicki and the Doctor cunningly steal some clothes (with Vicki posing as a boy) and make their way to the English encampment. King Richard the Lionheart (Julian Glover) reluctantly grants Ian the right to ride off and find Barbara — knighting him "Sir Ian of Jaffa" for the purpose.

Another companion of the King, William des Preaux, is posing as Richard in Saladin's court to protect his King. He befriends Barbara, and they both decide to act as if Barbara is Richard's sister, Joanna. This backfires spectacularly because Saladin's brother, Saphadin, has a massive crush on Joanna and immediately knows that Barbara isn't her.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Vicki stay behind and try unsuccessfully not to get caught up in courtly intrigues. Joanna (hey, it's Jean Marsh!) overhears them saying that Vicki isn't a boy, and although she's amused by the ruse, she refuses to let it continue. Instead, she allows Vicki to be dressed up as a proper lady and the Doctor to become her confidante, eager for some friendship in these lands.

Barbara flees from Saphadin's men and is eventually sheltered by a man named Haroun, whose daughter Maimuna has been kidnapped and raped by El Akir (The Dragon in Saladin's court). Haroun lives for revenge, and has hidden the fate of Maimuna, as well as the death of his wife and son at El Akir's hands, from his other daughter Safiya. While Haroun sees his chance to finally kill El Akir, he leaves Barbara with his trusted knife and tells her to kill Safiya and herself if they are captured by soldiers.

El Akir almost immediately subdues Haroun, who doesn't stand a chance without his knife. Barbara makes a brave stand, but is dragged off to El Akir. She escapes again and hides in the harem, where she meets the traumatised Maimuna.

Meanwhile, Ian gets Trapped by Mountain Lions in the form of some hungry ants and an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain named Ibrahim. He convinces Ibrahim to steal them some horses and help him get into Saladin's court. They invade the harem just in time to witness Barbara's betrayal to El Akir at the hands on one of the harem women, Fatima, in exchange for a ruby ring. After a quick battle, Haroun is reunited with Maimuna, and Fatima has to face the revenge of the other women.

In the middle of all that, the Doctor and Vicki discover that King Richard plans to marry Joanna off to Saphadin to form a pact. Joanna obviously has a serious problem with that, and after a roaring speech to him, treatens to involve the Pope if Richard goes through with it. Richard is led to believe that the Doctor and Vicki are the ones who told Joanna of the plan — and although it's revealed to all that the Earl of Leicester is actually the one who told her, the Doctor and Vicki wisely decide to flee the court.

They meet up with Ian and Barbara outside the TARDIS, where Ian pretends to a group of soldiers that he's captured the Doctor, and the entire group vanishes into the TARDIS.

Which promptly goes dark...

The only serial from Season 2 that's partly lost (unless you count the unreleased four-episode cut of ''Planet of Giants''), though audio recordings of Episodes Two and Four exist. The only known copy of the first part also had a very large physical scratch in it, which despite the best efforts of the BBC is still noticeable even in the DVD releases.


  • Actor Allusion: William Russell was the lead of the 1950s swashbuckling series The Adventures Of Sir Lancelot. Here, he gets knighted and the Doctor jokes that he could always have imagined him as a knight.
  • Big Bad: El Akir. Technically, he's a subject of Saladin, but after his failure to capture King Richard, his schemes are solely for his own gratification rather than for the sake of the Saracen cause.
  • Blackface: Most of the Saracens, although some are played by actual Africans.
  • Bound and Gagged: Barbara at the beginning when she is captured.
  • Calling the King Out: When Joanna learns what the Richard has planned for her, she gives him an epic bawling-out.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Damsel in Distress: Played with, since Barbara is anything but passive in captivity.
  • Darker and Edgier: Sexual abuse of an underaged girl, a whole lot of graphic violence, and Barbara being given a knife to kill herself and Safiya should they get captured.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Haroun kills El Akir.
  • Emergency Impersonation: A subplot involves knight William des Préaux pretending to be King Richard during an Arab ambush to save the real Richard from capture. Truth in Television, because this incident actually happened.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Ibrahim attempts to kill Ian via a variation on scaphism (an actual excecution method in Ancient Persia), smearing him with honey and leaving him in the desert for ants to chew slowly through his flesh, birds circling above waiting to start on his eyes. Complete with a graphic description from the torturer that this was what would happen. The most extreme aspects of scaphism are omitted here due to them being inappropriate for a family audience, but it's still a much more brutal form of death than what Doctor Who is otherwise known for; luckily, Ian manages to bluff his way out before any damage can be done.
  • Friendship Moment: The Doctor and Vicki share a lot of giggles and a very sweet cuddle in this story, and bond over their shared thieving skills.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: El Akir has a scar on the left side of his face.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Truth in Television for the Crusades.
  • Historical Domain Character: Richard The Lion Heart, Leicester, Saladin...
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Said almost word for word by one of the soldiers who see the Doctor and the crew escape in the TARDIS.
  • Mercy Kill: Haroun instructs Barbara to do this to Safiya if worst comes to worst. Barbara has no intention of doing so.
  • The Middle Ages: The story is set during the Third Crusade in the 12th century.
  • Rape as Drama: Maimuna's fate; also what Richard has planned for Joanna.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Saladin. He treats Ian well but points out he can't return Barbara once El Akir has taken her as he can't upset one of his commanders during a war.
  • Shout-Out: Barbara quotes Percy Bysshe Shelley's Epipsychidion ("One heaven, one hell, one immortality").
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
  • Smug Snake: El Akir.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: The Doctor insists on dressing Vicki up as a boy because he feels this will make her safer in the Middle Ages. Vicki tries her best and the disguise works well, but eventually complains to the Doctor that she's fed up with being a boy and wants to be a girl again. She spends the rest of the story in a stunning and very feminine medieval gown and headdress, which she seems a lot more comfortable with.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The Doctor comes to the assistance of a knight who has been attacked and knocked to the ground. While the Doctor distracts the attacker, the knight groggily pulls himself upright and throws his sword — and it embeds itself cleanly dead-on in the attacker's chest.
  • Worthy Opponent: Richard and Saladin, as in Real Life.

"Any more cracks about knighthood, and I'll carry out that execution."