Friday, 17 October 2014

020 Marco Polo Episode 7: Assassin At Peking

EPISODE: Marco Polo Episode 7: Assassin At Peking
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 04 April 1964
WRITER: John Lucarotti
DIRECTOR: Waris Hussein
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 10.4 million viewers
FORMAT: CD Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1964-1965)

a "What do we owe?"
"Er, thirty-five elephants with ceremonial bridles, trappings, brocades and pavilions. Four thousand white stallions, and twenty-five tigers."
"That's not too bad, so far."
"And the sacred tooth of Buddha Which Polo brought over from India."
"Oh, that? What else? What more?"
"I'm very much afraid all the commerce from Burma for one year, sire."


Right, part 7.

Ian and Tegana argue but the Khan's courier arrives, confiscates their weapons and escort them to Peking. The Doctor and the Khan have already arrived and is playing his new friend at Backgammon and drinking tea. Lovely list of items given that they have gambled away! The Doctor tries to gamble for the TARDIS, but loses. Ian tells their story to Marco Polo including the tale of Tegana's treachery. Ping Cho discovers she is to be married in the morning but isn't at all happy. Tegana tries to turn the Khan against the travellers. Later after the banquet, the Khan confesses to Ping Cho that her husband to be expired over dinner! Ping Cho elects to stay a while with the Khan. Tegana obtains an audience with the Khan, but then travellers deduce that he intends to assassinate the Khan. They evade their guard, meet Marco and tell him what Tegana intends. Polo goes to the throne room where Tegana and the Khan meet. Tegana attacks, slaying the Khan's Vizier but Marco arrives and fights him. Polo wins as the guards arrive, but Tegana slays himself. Marco gives the Doctor the TARDIS keys and they leave, dematerialising in front of the Khan who is astonished by what he sees. Realising what Ian said was true Marco wonders if they have gone to the past or the future.

POLO: I'm sorry, my lord. I had to give them back their flying caravan.
KHAN: If you hadn't, the old man would have won it at backgammon. And it is true. A flying caravan. There's something for you to tell your friends in Venice.
POLO: No, my lord. They would not believe half the things that I have seen in Cathay. But what is the truth? I wonder where they are now? The past or the future?
Oooo, that's a fab monologue at the end. A great episode where everything comes together: Tegana's plan is revealed, but he is slain failing to carry it out. Ping Cho escapes from her arranged marriage and the Tardis crew finally get the ship back!

At Seven parts Marco Polo is one of the longer Doctor Who stories, and is the longest historical story. There's one other six part historical story during this season but in the next three series, until they were phased out, historical stories are confined to four episodes. I found Marco Polo a bit of a slog in places, and a little bit up and down, but what long Doctor Who story isn't? It's a little bit repetitive too with recurring scenes of the travellers trying to get the Tardis back, discovering evidence of Teganna's treachery and Marco not believing them. But it is all going somewhere and the constantly changing situation and background mitigates against this. I've listened to this four times now: once on initial release, once for the first go at the blog, then this time all in one go on a train journey to London and then episodically again with the telesnaps and looking at the notes I made before. I suspect this would definitely be served by having the film to go with the sound. I've seen the photos and telesnaps for this story now: it looks superb and the telesnaps have helped me get a better feel of what's happening. I'm still less keen on the historical stories, though several (Reign of Terror, Romans, Myth Makers, Gunfighters and Smugglers) have grown on me a lot recently. I think this has to be added to the plus pile, it gets better every time I hear it. As for the historical accuracy.... well Polo existed as did the Khan but the rest of it is entirely fictional.

Oddly on the first ride out for the blog we finished the missing stories with marathoning the last four episodes of The Space Pirates on a train journey from Swindon to London. It was doing the same journey that I listened to Marco Polo: I heard episode one on Swindon station and concluded episode 7 as I walked up the road to my Mum's house.

This episode features the only appearance of The Empress, played by Claire Davenport. Her most famous role is as dancer Yarna d'al' Gargan in the Jabba's Palace scenes in Return of the Jedi. She's the second actor from this serial to appear in that film: Arnold Lee, a Mongol Warrior in episode 2, plays Rayc Ryjerd

One of the odd pieces of information we have about this episode is how much each of the major cast got paid for it:

William Hartnell The Doctor 210
William Russell Ian Chesterton 147
Jacqueline Hill Barbara Wright £99.15s
Carole Ann Ford Susan Foreman 63
Mark Eden Marco Polo £68.5s
Derren Nesbitt Teganna 84
Zienia Merton Ping-Cho £36.15s
Martin Miller Kublai-Khan 84
Claire Davenport The Empress 42
Tutte Lemkow Kuiju 63
Peter Lawrence Vizier 42
Paul Carson Ling-Tau £36.15s

As you can see there's a huge difference between the four regulars!

And while we're mentioning actors...... This is the last time that Douglas Camfield fulfils the Production Assistant role on Doctor Who. He'll be elevated to Director shortly, and becomes Doctor Who's best director. So here's a list of those who appeared in this production who he reuses at a later date:

Story Episode Actor Part Marco Polo
The Crusade 1 The Lion David Anderson Reynier de Marun 5 Caravan Warrior
7 Palace Guard
Valentino Musetti Saracen Warrior 5 Mongol Bandit
2 The Knight of Jaffa Zohra Segal Sheyrah 1 Attendant to Ping-Cho
Gábor Baraker Luigi Ferrigo 5 Wang-Lo
3 The Wheel of Fortune David Brewster Turkish Bandit 5 Mongol Bandit
4 The War-Lords Tutte Lemkow Ibrahim 5 Kuiju
The Time Meddler 1 The Watcher David Anderson Sven 5 Caravan Warrior
2 The Meddling Monk
3 A Battle of Wits 7 Palace Guard
4 Checkmate
The Dalek Masterplan 9 Golden Death David Anderson Egyptian Warrior 5 Caravan Warrior
7 Palace Guard
David Brewster Egyptian Warrior 5 Mongol Bandit
Valentino Musetti Egyptian Warrior 5 Mongol Bandit

This is last appearance directing Doctor Who for Waris Hussein who worked on the first story, and episode, as well as this tale. Hussein has gone on to have a very successful career directing. He, like Camfield, was invited to direct the show's 20th anniversary story but declined. You can hear him interviewed about his experiences directing Doctor Who on Toby Hadoke's Who's Round #6.

Meanwhile writer John Lucarotti will be back with just one story's gap to pen The Aztecs!

As we've said Marco Polo is seven parts long which is a slightly unusual length for a Doctor Who story. There are plenty of Six and Four part stories and a few Two and Three parters. At the small end of the scale there's just two single episode stories: Mission to the Unknown and the 90 minute Five Doctors anniversary special. Three Five part stories exist - The Dominators & The Mind Robber from the Sixth season and The Daemons from the Eighth. Two of Doctor Who's Seven parters are in the First season and we've done those already - The Daleks & Marco Polo. We don't see the next one for another three years until Evil of the Daleks closes the Fourth seasons. The Seventh season is, bar it's Four part opener, almost entirely comprised of 3 Seven Part stories: The Silurians, The Ambassadors of Death & Inferno - the last of which pulls a very clever trick to stretch it's story to that many episodes. Season Six has both an Eight parter - The Invasion - and a Ten Parter - The War Games, while season Three featured the long time record holder, in the Twelve part epic The Dalek Masterplan. Officially the record is now held by season Twenty Three's mammoth Fourteen part A Trial Of A Timelord but you can argue that this is a) 3xFour part stories and 1xTwo part stories and B) rubbish. Actually it's just occurred to me I'm going to have to watch Trial again. Oh dear. Three times in one lifetime was enough!

Marco Polo was novelised by it's original author in 1985 and released on 11th April. A CD version was released on 3rd November 2003. There hasn't been a DVD release because these 7 episodes are missing from the BBC archive but a condensed reconstruction of the story and an extensive photo gallery are available on the Edge of Destruction DVD in The Beginning Boxset

Missing Episodes 7) Is that it?

When we left Ian Levine at the archives there were 137 episodes of Doctor Who missing.

When I wrote the original version of this episode in 2010 I continued thus:

Today there are 108. However it's been nearly seven years since the last complete episode of Doctor Who was recovered (Dalek Masterplan 2: The Day of Armageddon in January 2004). So is that it? Maybe. All the broadcasters who showed Doctor Who have been contacted and say they don't have any older episodes remaining in their archives.
As we know that's changed since then. Today there's 97 missing episodes: Galaxy Four episode 3: Airlock and The Underwater Menace episode 2 were returned from a private collector in 2011 and unveiled at that year's Missing Believed Wiped conference. Then, following much rumour, the BBC announced to considerable media attention that Enemy of the World episodes 1, 2 & 4 to 6 and Web of Fear 2 & 4 to 6 had been found in Nigeria thanks to the efforts of Phil Morris.

I ask again: is that it? and this time reply almost certainly not. Morris has visited numerous sites in Africa and it's quite possible he's found something else. The station that had Enemy of the World & Web of Fear should of had Abominable Snowmen & Wheel in Space too. A set of prints of this story, Marco Polo, and the missing episodes of Reign of Terror & the Crusade were known to have been last shown in Ethiopia with their fate not known. And it's possible even that the long thought destroyed film archive in Sierra Leone may still exist.... and if it does within it might be a set of Season 3 prints. Exciting times for Doctor Who fans with far more hope, and far more rumours, than there has been in many years.

Beyond that .....things do get mislabelled, put in the wrong tin etc - for many years there was a film can of Day of Armageddon in existence and nobody knew what had happened to it's contents. There are other film tins labelled as Doctor Who that didn't have the right episodes in: Moonbase episode 3, Ice Warriors 3 and Fury from the Deep 6 have all had cans discovered over the years. Did the contents of these tins walk out the door of the BBC, or other broadcaster, and into the hands of private collectors. Mind you if a private collector has got any missing Doctor Who then he's keeping very quiet about it. There again, to use Day of Armageddon again, that had sat in a bag hung on someone's door for years! Similarly the man who returned Galaxy Four episode 3: Airlock and Underwater Menace episode 2 had no idea that the films he held were missing!

There's a few oddities in the records as well: What happened to Dalek Masterplan 4: The Traitors after the BBC used it? What was the fate of Tenth Planet 4? (which has had more rumours about it's existence than any other episode) What happened to the episodes that were , according to the records, in the film library when a documentary was made in the 1970s but had vanished when Ian Levine looked? An error on the records or did they go walkies? In many cases we'll never know. But the rumour, lack of complete records of destruction and in several cases the survival of a film print that was definitely destroyed will keep Doctor Who fans & professionals looking for missing episodes. Who knows what they might find?

Those interested in the subject are directed to Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes by Richard Molesworth which is a great read and I have been indebted to while writing these articles.

Marco Polo represents the bulk of the missing episodes from series 1 and 2 of Doctor Who: apart from this story the only Reign of Terror 4 & 5 and Crusade 2 & 4 are missing meaning that just 11 of the first 81 episodes of Doctor Who are absent. It won't be until season 3 that we'll see a 7 episode gap in the archive again (Galaxy Four episode 4 through to Dalek Masterplan 1). In some ways it's a miracle that the earliest episodes are so well represented!

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