Friday, 17 October 2014

017 Marco Polo Episode 4: The Wall of Lies

EPISODE: Marco Polo Episode 4: The Wall of Lies
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 14 March 1964
WRITER: John Lucarotti
DIRECTOR: John Crockett
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 9.9 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1964-1965) No. 1

"Poor Susan and Ping-Cho. Yet what alternative had I but to separate them? Now my caravan seethes with suspicion and discontent as we journey south-west. The route takes us to the ancient cities of Su-Chow and Kan-Chow, where the Great Wall of Cathay begins. Following the wall, we travel south to Lan-Chow, which lies on the banks of the Yellow River. Here, our route swings north, and with the river always in sight, we journey towards Shang-Tu."


Marco finds where the Doctor has gone and leaves with Ian for the cave. The Doctor doubts Susan has seen the eyes move when they meet Tegana, closely followed by Marco & Ian, who deduces there's a room behind the cave wall. The door to the room opens and they are attacked by a warrior who they defeat to rescue Barbara. Marco & Tegana argue about travelling with the Tardis crew. Barbara tells Marco about Tegana who denies having been to the cave before. Tegana overhears Susan & Ping Cho talking and discovers there is a spare Tardis key. Ping Cho spots a flaw in something Tegana said but Marco will not believe her. Tegana plots the slaughter of the travellers with his ally Acomat. The Doctor works on the broken circuit, while Ian talks with Marco. Tegana enters and tells Marco that the Doctor is at work in the Tardis via a second key, which Tegana takes from him by force. The Doctor bluffs that putting the key in the lock will destroy the Tardis. Marco has the Tardis crew taken prisoner and placed in a separate tent. Ian wants to escape from confinement, and they plot to capture Marco and seize a key back. Ian cuts his was out of their tent with a broken plate, tackling the guard but finds out that he's already dead.

Relations between Polo and the Tardis crew further sour this episode with first Susan being separated from Ping-Cho and then the time travellers isolated with the spare key taken from them. This leads to the attempt to escape which coincides with Acomat's attack on the caravan.....

Episode 4 is the only episode of Marco Polo not directed by Waris Hussein, John Crockett is in the chair instead. It seems to be a common thing in first year of Doctor Who to give a director new to the series a single or couple of episodes before unleashing them on a complete story: see the shared responsibility for the Daleks, Edge of Destruction & Planet of Giants for other examples. John Crockett would return ten weeks later to direct The Aztecs, which is his only other work on Doctor Who.

Missing Episodes 4) John Cura's Telesnap Photos

Photographer John Cura had a business in the 1950s & 60s taking photos from television programs to provide the makers with a permanent record of their work. He took photos of every Doctor Who story from An Unearthly Child onwards, until Producer John Wiles decided to dispense with his services at the start of the third season. His successor Innes Lloyd did want the Telesnaps and so Cura resumed taking photographs of the program with the Gunfighters and continued till the early part of the sixth season when he became ill with the cancer that would claim his life in 1969.

These remained forgotten for many years but were gradually rediscovered from the mid 1980s onwards. Several stories that were missing from the BBC's libraries exist in the Telesnap format so they've become very popular as the only way of seeing what these missing stories looked like. Cura didn't only take telesnaps of Doctor Who: he photographed many other programs during the same period including Out of the Unknown and A for Andromeda which, like Doctor Who, have episodes missing from the BBC's archives.

Telesnaps from The Power of The Daleks were first printed in Doctor Who:The Early Years by Jeremy Bentham and over the years many other stories have had their telesnaps printed in several publications. Doctor Who magazine has serialised several stories worth of telesnaps over the years and recently, to much acclaim, filled three specials with them printing all the telesnaps that exist for missing episodes of Doctor Who. Sadly no telesnaps were taken for the stories which John Wiles Produced from the third season (Galaxy Four, Mission to the Unknown, The Myth Makers, The Dalek Masterplan, The Massacre, The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker). Of those 33 episodes just nine exist leaving 24 that we have no real visual record of. The same is true for The Invasion 1 & 4 and The Space Pirate 1 & 3-6 shown after Cura had stopped taking his photos earlier that season.

This episode of Marco Polo and the Reign of Terror have no telesnaps either: Telesnaps were taken at the time but none have ever been found. In fact for many years no Telesnaps from Marco Polo were known to exists: None were found in the BBC's written archive, the source of many of the pictures that exist today. However in 2003 Six of the Seven episodes of Marco Polo were acquired from the director, Waris Hussein, who had kept copies. As we've already said the fourth episode, for which no telesnaps are known to exist, was overseen by a different director, John Crockett who died some years previously.

Several sets of telesnaps can be found at The BBC's Classic Doctor Who Website, but unfortunately they don't have the set for Marco Polo displayed. I suspect this now archived section of the BBC site was created before the Marco Polo telesnaps were located. If you want to see them then you'll need to get hold of a copy of Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition: The Missing Episodes – The First Doctor. Jonathan Morris talks about working on the special on his Under Three Hundred blog in the articles Photographic and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, which is especially pertinent to this episode. He talks about the second and third volume at The Power and Lost.

Marco Polo seems especially fortunate that a large number of colour photo exist covering large portions of the story. There seem to have been photographers on the set for episodes 1, 3 & 6 and virtually the entire cast, bar the Empress and Acomat have been captured. You can find these photo in the photo gallery on the Edge of Destruction disc in The Beginning Boxset and they're well worth a look. In fact all the photo galleries have something nice in them, especially the ones for the black & white stories which frequently have colour pictures. So if you've never looked at this special feature before on your Doctor Who DVDs dig them out and watch them. Keys of Marinus and The War Games are especially good.

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