The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Me: I’ve watched the surviving episodes of this a few times, but I can’t really remember that much about it on the whole.
I crack open the Lost in Time.
Me: This is a DVD case that I guess we’ll be getting used to seeing over the early part of 2012.
Me: I notice that you’ve started saying less and less-
Him: I’m saying more and more.
Me: Fair play. Well, Happy New Year and all that. Here we go.
After pressing ‘play all’ we’re greeted by a William Russell introduction, lovingly copied across from the old VHS issue.
Him: Oh – it’s Ian.
|"Who are you and how did you get in here?"|
Me: He’s got quite long hair there.
Him: Didn’t he marry Barbara?
Me: I hope so.
Him: You’re not jealous of him then?
Me: They were made for each other – why would I be jealous?
Him: Why would you not be jealous?
Me: It’d be nice if they brought Ian and Susan back for the 50th Anniversary perhaps.
Him: Not Ian.
Me: Not Ian?
Him: Because Barbara wouldn’t be able to be there with him.
Me: The new series covered the Brigadier passing quite tastefully.
Him: Yeah – but the The Sarah Jane Adventures said that Barbara and Ian got married but had never aged. Russell T Davies, what hast thou done?
Me: Good point. How about Susan?
Him: Would she want to come back? And if it was just Susan, it’d have to be set either directly before – or directly after – The Five Doctors.
Him: Because it’s just before Susan and the Doctor go to 1963.
Me: In that case, Susan develops a remarkably effective anti-aging cream just after her adventures in the Death Zone.
Him: Yes. But it was obviously before they met Ian and Barbara.
Me: I’m finding it quite difficult to stand the confusion in my mind.
Him: Oh – wait. If the Tenth Doctor checked up on all of his companions, then he must have checked up on Susan.
Me: She’s family, rather than companion. In my head, anyway. I suppose they could use that as part of the 50th Anniversary.
Him: Wouldn’t be right.
Me: Fair enough.
Him: Isn’t the 50th the Golden Anniversary?
Me: I think so. Return to Voga?
Me: You’ve not become a total anor-
Him: Oh yeah – it’s a Fourth Doctor one. I can remember Tom Baker’s eyes going really wide as he says “Vo-ga”.
“Vo-ga” subsequently became the Him’s catchphrase over the rest of the week.
Me: Oh dear, that’s right. David Tennant got married yesterday, I think.
Him: Oh yeah, to who?
I’m letting the baffle-grammar of that sentence go as the meaning comes through just fine, and that’s what language is all about.
Me: Georgia Moffett.
Him: Oh. Georgia Moffett – that’s right. Hang on. That’s just struck me as a little bit odd.
Him: She’s Peter Davison’s daughter.
Me: She is.
Him: And she played Jenny in The Doctor’s Daughter, which is weird because she really is the Doctor’s daughter.
Me: She could come back as Susan’s Mum.
Him: What? No! That doesn’t make sense! How did Susan end up meeting the Doctor?
Me: I’m inclined to let the BBC sort that continuity nightmare out.
Him: Didn’t Peter Davison used to watch the old Doctor Who stories with his son – the ones that he was in?
Me: If the commentaries are to be believed.
Him: And his son used to call him ‘Doctor Daddy’.
Me: Yup. Shall we see what Ian’s been talking to himself about?
Him: He’s not talking to himself – he’s talking to… the camera.
The Story So Far: Ian has become separated from Barbara and imprisoned in the thorax of a gigantic wooden ant. Over the years he has carved himself a home and filled it with items that the ant has swallowed. To stave off the endless boredom, Ian’s taken to regaling imaginary guests with stories of his adventures with the mysterious, and often angry, old man known only as ‘the Doctor’. I’ll admit that some of that is conjecture, but there’s no real evidence that I’m wrong.
|"It was all rather rudimentary until I obtained a carving spoon and then, of course, I was able to start work on the east wing with renewed vigour."|
As we take our place as today’s imaginary guests, Ian launches into an impassioned ramble down memory lane, starting by mentioning things that never happened – perhaps he’s testing us. Ian moves to the tapered end of the thorax dining-room, where he’s stored a random prototype Gundan Warrior Robot. For some reason this reminds him of a time he bumped into royalty, which sets him off. Ian sits down and all but asks us if we’re crouching comfortably.
Me: Go on, son.
And he begins. To be fair to him, William Russell has just delivered a sterling piece of covering information and set the scene nicely. It just seems that the camera lingers on him for a little too long before fading to black.
Me: He’s fuming!
Him: He’s not furious.
We open on a leafy area. Several suspicious looking folk armed with swords are slinking through. One of them might be a king.
Him: Did we watch this when we first got Lost in Time?
Me: We did – but like I said earlier, it keeps slipping from the mind. Maybe there’s a Silent in it.
The TARDIS materialises with a very strange noise. Elsewhere, a bird of prey makes a brief guest appearance before being disguised and taken away. We meet Scaroth of the Jagaroth in his earlier incarnation as King Richard1 and his hunting chum, de Marun. There’s a gentleman fiddling with a clasp on the ground.
Me: That’s a fine moustache.
Him: A fine moustache/beard combo.
This observation cracks me up. From out of the bushes comes a new arrival, William des Preaux. He feels that the woods were designed for an ambush, which of course they were, by Barry Newbery. He also feels that they’re being watched - and they are, by a right proper bad ‘un known as El Akir. Ian emerges from some shrubbery, followed closely by the rest of our chums.
Him: When did they leave the TARDIS?
A bloke with a sword and a pointy hat approaches the travellers in a threatening fashion. The Doctor distracts said bloke and then lays into him.
Him: Does that count as the Doctor having his life immediately threatened?
Me: The Doctor’s certainly become a bit handy of late.
The bloke limps off and the sounds of a battle are heard.
Me: Back to the TARDIS perhaps?
That’s not really an option as Barbara’s gone off somewhere.
Me: Oh no – they’ll all be in trouble now. Someone’ll have already fallen in love with her or declared her queen or something.
Him: “’Queen Barbara’? I like the sound of that. Shall we stay here for awhile?”
The sounds of battle grow louder and therefore closer.
Him: William Hartnell’s looking very ‘here we go again’.
Barbara’s been tied up – which is pretty efficient work given how long she’s actually been missing. The Doctor and Vicki hide as the King and his friends come out of the shrubbery looking the worse for wear. An arrow takes our hairy friend out of commission.
Me: They’re dropping like Menoptra.
Another arrow takes out de Marun and des Preaux saves the day by announcing that he’s Spartacus, and being captured instead of the actual King. Ian saves Julian Glover by getting into a fight on a soundstage.
Him: Has Ian been exiled to film again?
Me: There’s some tempo to this story.
There is. I’m being rude, but it’s well written, acted and rattling along at a thumping pace. The Doctor stops Vicki from braining our hairy friend with a massive rock. As Barbara’s been taken away, the Doctor has to fill in the educational details for us. We’re in the Holy Land. Ian goes off to look for Barbara. The Doctor decides to swap a golden belt for help from King Richard. There’s disguising - cloaks are involved. Elsewhere, Barbara and des Preaux are assessing their situation.
Barbara: Where are we?
Me: “Inside the tent.”
Des Preaux reveals they’re probably at Ramlah, in Jaffa, guests of the Sultan.
Me: There’s some damage to the film.
Des Preaux wastes no time and begins flirting with Barbara. El Akir comes in to see everything’s alright. Des Preaux’s ruse means pretending that Barbara is Joanna, the sister of King Richard. This is a little unfortunate as the Sultan’s brother, Saphadin, has had his eye on Joanna for a while. In a nearby market the Doctor and Vicki are stealing clothes.
Him: “Dirty rags!”
Back in the tent, El Akir reveals his good fortune to Saphadin. Meanwhile, Saladin is listening.
Me: It’s Bernard Kay.
Me: You last saw him training to be a Bedfordshire vulcanologist.
Barbara is rumbled almost instantly. So is des Preaux. El Akir tries to make the most of a difficult situation by devising novelty punishments. Saladin isn’t impressed.
Saladin: And who here is the most foolish?
The Him cracks up at this. The script’s fantastic, and Bernard Kay’s performance is really quite special, it has to be said. Barbara and Saladin have a chat, with Barbara detailing the stops she’s taken on her time-cruise so far, missing out The Rescue.
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.
Me: “In fact – now I think of it, you were there for that one.”
Him: As Carl Tyler.
Me: I’m impressed.
Saladin decides she must be an actor and allows Barbara to stay and tell him stories, like Scheherazade. It’s shameless flirting, but Barbara’s come to expect that by now, I’m sure. Elsewhere, Richard’s ranting furiously. The Doctor, Ian and Vicki have returned the moustache/beard combo, who’s actually called de Tornebu.
Him: I have no idea.
Having a bit of a sulk, Richard won’t help find Barbara.
Him: That’s a good exit.
1. Obviously, we don’t, but it’s nice to think that we do.
THE KNIGHT OF JAFFA
Back in the wooden thorax, Ian continues to tell his tale. Although it’s interesting, we sort of ignore it a bit and have a shot at the recon – which I’m pleased to say, the Him’s still joining in with. We have the recap and the furiousness of King Richard cracks the Him up. Trades are possibly arranged as a way of saving face and getting Barbara and des Preaux back. Joanna enters.
Me: The ex-Mrs Pertwee.
The King’s Chamberlain, who has an amazing moustache, notices that ‘Victor’ is a bit girly for a boy. Richard moans about the politics of war.
Me: It’s well written all right.
Him: It is.
Elsewhere, El Akir and a merchant called Luigi (apparently played by Richard Herring on the recon) are making deals. Barbara is planning what stories to tell, when Luigi sneaks in, leaves a glove, and helps her escape to El Akir, which doesn’t really count as an escape. Ian dresses as a knight. Elsewhere, Richard is holding forth.
Me: Oh – he’s eating. I thought he was doing an impression of Churchill.
Him: If you leave your finger in ice-cream for long enough then it starts to hurt.
|All his own work.|
Richard gives Ian the gold belt.
Him: Vicki’s dressed as Peter Pan.
Me: I thought it was Robin Hood. Or Link.
Ian gets knighted for the journey. Elsewhere the merchant the Doctor robbed earlier, is complaining to the Chamberlain.
Him: That’s a moustache.
Saladin is told that Barbara’s gone. Sheyrah, Barbara’s handmaiden, reveals Luigi’s glove with the expected result. Back in Jaffa, Ian’s off on his journey. The Doctor and Vicki are accused – quite correctly - of robbery. The Chamberlain pays for the Doctor’s disguise. Ian’s still looking for Barbara who’s managed to escape to danger twice in one episode, which is some sort of record.
Me: The sets look like they must have been amazing.
Him: Is this William Russell doing the narration?
Me: It is.
Barbara hides from the pursuing soldiers and then gets grabbed. The credits roll.
Him: Oh – that’s cool!
Him: William Hartnell, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill all have names ending in double l’s.
Me: It’s a future echo of the importance of Cardiff.
Him: Don’t words start with double l’s in Welsh?
THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Me: This episode was obviously the basis for a game show.
Him: Did they tie Barbara to a wheel?
Barbara is saved from the soldiers by a gentleman named Haroun. The Doctor and Vicki are having fun with cloaks. The Doctor continues winding up Ben Daheer, the merchant he keeps fleecing.
Me: People just keep giving him cloaks.
Him: That’s where the TARDIS wardrobe comes from – presents.
Joanna enters and overhears that Vicki wants to be a girl.
Him: "First I wanted to be a boy, then I wanted to be a girl and now I’m not sure what I am".
Joanna offers to help in return for the Doctor’s assistance in discovering what her brother’s up to.
Me: Do you recognise Joanna?
The Chamberlain’s moustache arrives and the deception is revealed. Vicki, understandably, doesn’t want to be left on her own.
Me: “I could hardly leave you here in the past” What d’you think of Vicki?
Him: She’s a good replacement for Susan. I like Vicki – it’s weird. She’s a very good companion, but she's one of the few that I can never remember.
Barbara and Haroun return to his home. Barbara meets Haroun’s daughter, Safiya, and hears how Haroun has vowed to kill El Akir. Because this is a somewhat risky way of thinking in Jaffa at this particular time, Haroun gives Barbara a present in case he is captured. It’s a knife.
Haroun: Take this and use it.
Barbara: Kill her?
Haroun: Yes, and afterwards, yourself.
Haroun: You must.
Me: Kid’s show! Kid’s show! That’s a bit harsh.
Haroun gets jumped by El Akir’s men. Back with King Richard and the Doctor – plans are being made.
Me: William Hartnell’s enjoying himself, isn’t he?
The writing for this scene is magnificent – as it is for the whole story. Saladin has received the letter from Richard. It causes unseen problems.
Him: You’re not writing.
Me: I’d noticed. I’m trying to concentrate on what’s going on.
Barbara is hiding with Safiya. It’s tense.
Me: I don’t remember watching this one at all.
Him: Me neither.
As El Akir’s men search Haroun’s place, Barbara reveals herself to save Safiya.
Him: Why is Barbara wearing slippers?
Suddenly, in a desert, we rejoin Ian.
Me: Meanwhile, on film.
Him: Film looks a lot worse.
Following this controversial opinion, Ian becomes involved in a fight. Worryingly, he comes second.
Me: This is a bit wobbly. Actually, that looks almost pixelated, which would make it a restoration wobble. Of course, I don’t know what it looked like before.
The Doctor and Vicki – who’s not ‘Victor’ anymore – are having a fine old time with Joanna.
Him: Apparently, Venice smells really bad in the summer.
Me: Honks, I’ve heard. Like a vampire fish.
Joanna uncovers Richard’s plan to marry her to Saphadin. She’s unhappy. Very, very unhappy.
Me: This is a great scene.
Him: I recognise her voice.
Me: She’s a very good actor.
Him: No – it can’t be… Can it?
After Joanna’s outburst, the Doctor finds himself in trouble with Richard. Elsewhere, Barbara’s in a whole heap of trouble herself as she’s returned to El Akir...
Him: Okay – credits.
Him: No. I don’t recognise her.
Me: Before this she was married to Jon Pertwee – but in Doctor Who she played Sara Kingdom-
Him: She’s from The Dalek Master Plan!
Me: And – she also appears as Morgana.
Me: That’s right. Do you know who else links those two stories?
The Him thinks.
Him: Nicholas Courtney?
Me: That’s right. I’d only just remembered that there.
In no time El Akir is flirting with Barbara – truly she must be the most desirable lady who’s ever lived. It’s a shame she wasn’t still around for The Myth Makers. Causing a distraction, Barbara escapes into the nearby harem where, as luck would have it, she finds Haroun’s missing daughter - Maimuna. El Akir bursts into the forbidden room in pursuit.
Maimuna: Are you both drunk? Or mad?
There’s a very weird tele-snap as El Akir offers a ruby ring in return for Miss Wright.
|Count Rugen: The Early Years|
Him: Him: Did he just have six fingers?
Me: No polydactylism here – but it is a weird shot.
Meanwhile in the desert, Ian has been staked out and drizzled with honey in anticipation of ant-based information retrieval.
Me: Continuing this season’s ant theme.
Back in the palace Vicki is being questioned. Richard interrupts the Doctor’s determined defence.
Him: I’m having to sit here watching sound and pictures. It’s a great picture of Vicki though.
Richard has discovered the Doctor didn’t drop him in it with his sister. The Doctor cheers Richard up by telling him he’ll live to see Jerusalem.
Me: Bit of non-interference there.
Him: It doesn’t matter where they go, they’ll always be interfering. In The End of the World, all those people that the Doctor saves on Platform One should have died, and they would’ve done if he hadn’t interfered.
Me: I’ve got to say that, nit-picking aside – and that’s me nit-picking, not you – it would be a very dull show if the Doctor just watched. Like the documentaries where you see animals being animals and nature being all red teeth and claws. Although it’s been filmed, and therefore observed, there’s been no interference from the camerabods in the 'life or death struggle'. For some reason, I’m thinking of baby turtles not getting to the sea.
Him: That was horrible! There’s a bit in a Spyro game that’s just like that but you have to save them from hawks. And I used to miss them.
Me: Hawkwound?2 “Just this once, Spyro – everybody dies!”
Him: Those poor little turtles.
Me: It would be like the Doctor’s observing gaze treating everyone that it encounters as documentary-type data for the Matrix or something if he didn’t keep blundering in and saving the gazelle.
Him: Maybe there’s an actual camera in the Doctor’s hat in Power of the Daleks.
Me: Undercover filming?
Me: “On tonight’s episode of ‘Invaders From Hell’, we’ll be going undercover to reveal the horrifying secrets of our Kaled overlords.”
Ian is in so much trouble the ants have started to move.
Him: Yay! Moving ants!
Me: I know what links to this scene...
At this point the Him starts making up new lyrics to Links 2 3 4, using the events of The Crusade as his subject matter. I didn’t write them down, but they were pretty good under the circumstances. Suddenly we’re treated to moving vultures too.
Me: Why are the animals moving, I wonder? Unless someone’s found the stock footage or something…
Ian manages to get free and has a quick fight to celebrate. Elsewhere the ladies are continuing to guard Barbara. Haroun has recovered and made his way to the harem. Haroun manages to finally confront El Akir and revenge himself. Ian arrives, uncharacteristically too late for a scrap, and is reunited with Barbara.
Him: That’s another great picture.
Ian and Barbara hop on some stolen horses and rumble off back to the TARDIS, dodging soldiers as they go. Vicki and the Doctor have reached the woods, but it’s dark and guarded by Leicester’s men. Barbara and Ian meet Vicki but the Doctor gets caught. Ian confronts Leicester, saying the Doctor is a spy. Leicester hasn’t met Ian before and accepts Ian’s request to kill the Doctor. The Doctor asks for one last wish.
Me: “A kiss from those ruby lips…”
The Doctor is escorted away by Ian to be executed. Instead, they all hop into the TARDIS and escape.
Him: Oh, they’ve got the dematerialisation footage – no – no, they haven’t. Looks good though.
In the TARDIS bad jokes are doing the rounds.
The Doctor: I must say you’ve earned a good knight’s sleep.
Me: Oh, God.
There’s a sudden blackout in which everyone freezes – which is a shame as the picture begins-
Him: Sweet movement!
Him: I think I’ve earned a good knight’s sleep after that.
Me: The music wasn’t too bad in that one.
Him: (to the tune of Andy Warhol by David ‘The Underwater Menace of Androzani’ Jones) Dudley Simpson/What a scream/Hang him on my wa-aw-aw-all/Dudley walking/Dudley tired/Dudley take a little snooze
Me: Did you follow the story?
Me: Why’s that?
Him: Because I wasn’t paying attention.
Me: Fair enough.
2. Sorry. It was the mention of Battlefield that got me thinking about the mighty ‘Wind.
NEXT: THE SPACE MUSEUM