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Indiana Who and the Lost Crusade

First impressions after finding the The Lion

By Neil Lambess

Wow... Gosh... Golly... Oh my giddy aunt (I really wish I could use unprintable expletives to describe my feelings at this moment). It's a really interesting feeling to locate a missing Doctor Who episode - it still feels like I'm dreaming. For those of you wondering what it's like, here's a first-hand description, written just 24 hours after seeing episode 1 of The Crusade and realising that it was no longer a rumour. Oh how the wheel of fortune can turn...

About three months ago, on one of my increasingly frequent visits to Auckland, I bumped into my old friend Cornelius Stone. After catching up on gossip, Cornelius mentioned that his friend Bruce Grenville had a film print of an animated episode of the TV series Return to the Planet of the Apes. Intrigued by this I casually asked if Bruce had any Doctor Who. My heart suddenly skipped a beat when Corn' told me that he had seen an episode of The Crusade, and then sank when I realised that it had never been sold to New Zealand. Cornelius couldn't remember much of what he had seen and up until this point had assumed that it was the surviving episode 3, however he agreed to follow up on it and see what he could confirm.

I was sceptical but secretly hoped something would come of it. Unfortunately for both of us, everyday life got in the way and it wasn't until I re-read Andrew Pixley's DWM Archive on The Crusade a couple of weeks later that I discovered prints had been sent here. That was when I seriously started to believe I was onto something.

After two more months of trying to confirm the episode title (life can put more important things to deal with in front of people - me especially! - than missing episodes), I finally got to speak to Bruce on the morning of 3 January and he invited Paul and I around that evening. Apparently, the episode he had was called "The Lion".

I watched Bruce thread up his projector and throw the switch. There was no on-screen leader cues (the bit that counts down to 3), as Bruce had replaced the original leader, and suddenly the familiar upward arch of the Hartnell title sequence started. At this stage I was still expecting it to be episode 3 but when a forest clearing came up at the end of the titles I felt like Indiana Jones discovering the Ark of the Covenant (quite appropriate really, considering Julian Glover also appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!). Furtively looking around for large rolling boulders, I tried to relax and watch something that we all thought was gone forever.

My first impression was how great the opening titles look when they're projected on film; in fact it's definitely a very nice way to watch the programme. As a trained film projectionist, I was quite surprised at the quality; for a telecine transfer it looks surprisingly like it was originally shot on film. Sadly, the print is quite badly scratched all the way through with a very unusual one appearing for about six minutes in the middle. It'll be a good test of the BBC's new restoration technology.

What grabbed my attention were the great sets and costume design, and good acting. The forest reminds me a bit of the one in The Time Meddler, only less stagy. Highlights and visual things for me were: the TARDIS materialising in a clump of bushes; the surprisingly violent fight scene in the clearing at the beginning, where Hartnell actually decks someone and sword-fights! Vicki almost smashes a rock over one of Richard's men (who incidentally has one of the silliest beards ever committed to film); the atypically fast editing and moving camera shots that director Douglas Camfield uses.

In the clothes-stealing scene at the market, Hartnell has a goofy look on his face as he advocates ‘borrowing’ pre-stolen clothes and ducks under a table to attach a rope with which he pulls a table leg off at the appropriate moment. Also notable is the rather stylish outfit that Hartnell steals, and Vicki's pageboy costume which is rather sad... and the not quite pulled-off cliffhanger where, after Richard tells the TARDIS crew that Barbara can rot in her cell and her hair turn white, the camera ends up on William Russell's and Hartnell's reactions. Unfortunately, Hartnell appears to feel Chesterton up!!

So yes, definitely a good episode and I think much better than The Wheel of Fortune. As with most Doctor Who, it's a mixture of great and bad but with Camfield's fast pacing and camera work, and the simple fact that it exists, we should all be very happy.

My personal thanks to Cornelius for putting up with my incessant questions and pestering, to Paul and Jon for not doubting me as much as they normally do when I come with yet another missing episode lead, and to Bruce for inviting Paul and I around. When that invite was extended it was certainly one of the most exciting moments of my life.

Now, about that The Macra Terror screening at my school in Masterton when I was nine years old and the sports day was cancelled due to rain... That's another story, but here's hoping I can pull that one off!

This item appeared in TSV 56 (October 1998).

Index nodes: The Crusade