Says Knight Errant ’60 – there are still dragons to slay

Knight Errant vs sexism

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 10 January 1960

John Turner

WHEN I met John Turner at the studios he had just finished an episode of Granada’s Knight Errant ’60, the series in which he plays Adam Knight, champion of the wronged.

“How does it feel to be a modern St George?” I asked.

I expected his eyes to shine with fervour. They did not.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “but I believe it’s not a bit of use dashing to the rescue of the modern maiden in distress. For instance, if you give up your seat in a bus to a woman, the odds are that she will refuse it. You insist. She still declines. And before you know what is happening, some unscrupulous male slips into the seat.”

A good talking point. Before I could reply, we were joined by Richard Carpenter, who plays John’s assistant, Peter Parker, and Kay Callard, Liz Parrish in the series.

Said Richard, taking up the theme: “Chivalry has been dead for years. Old women tend to expect it, probably a cause they were brought up during a period when life was more leisurely and there was more time for gallantry.”

Kay decided it was time to put a woman’s point of view.

She said: “Surely, the original meaning of chivalry, if you forget the romanticism of the writers, was the strong and idealistic individual fighting the battles of the weak and oppressed and rescuing the unfortunate and wrongly persecuted?”

“But the knights of old were men who went about the country simply looking for trouble,” said John. “They fought for milady’s honour just for the sake of fighting.”

Richard backed him up. “If you tried to do that now you would find yourself in jail. Really, the knights have been replaced by the police.”

Kay agreed that there were fewer damsels in distress. But she still thought there was a lot to be said for the old-fashioned male. “He treated women as the weaker sex and was much more thoughtful than the young man of today,” she said.

Moira Redmond
“Damsel No 3” – Moira Redmond – played a film actress afraid of her husband

John wasn’t going to let her get away with that. “That’s just a lot of nonsense!” he said as he went into the attack.

“The modern young man is every bit as thoughtful as those in the days of old. Women are always the same. They expect chivalry and then demand equality.”

Kay countered with: “Why not? There are still parcels to carry, doors to open and chairs to set to the table. Aren’t men gallant enough for these courtesies?”

Said Richard: “These courtesies, as you put it, Kay, are just basic good manners not chivalry.”

But Kay was not going to be put off. “According to my dictionary the modern definition of chivalry is ‘Gallantry of spirit, bravery and courtesy.’ Men can be chivalrous by being courteous. Aren’t you courteous at home?”

Richard retorted; “If my wife is working, I do the housework. If I’m working she does it. But let’s get back to Knight Errant ’60. We’ve done a lot in the name of chivalry in this series, John. What would you say are the modern dragons?”

John thought hard, then said: “The physical dragons are people like the blackmailers, confidence tricksters and thieves from whom we’ve rescued Sally Smith, Shirley Laurence, Carol Wolveridge and Marianne Benet in the programme. But some of the dragons were in our own minds. Or they were disguised.”

The mention of disguise appealed to the Peter Parker in Richard. He suggested that Moira Redmond, who appeared in the Mediterranean cruise episode, was an example of the dragon in disguise.

“Do you mind,” said Kay, “if I come I back into this discussion? What it amounts to is that there are still just causes to be fought, if not by knights in armour then by scientists and politicians.”

John agreed, with the reservation that there were still many dragons at large in the community, perhaps not so important, but which ought nevertheless to be put to the sword. “For instance, overbearing matrons who charge to the front of the queue at the shops,” he said. “What is a mere man do?”

Kay sympathised. “Put it down to bad manner. I‘m ashamed of my own sex I when I see things like that.”

“Good for you, Kay,” said Richard.

John was more cautious. “Not so fast,” he said. “What Kay would like to see is every man falling over himself to dance attendance. Call it the Continental touch if you like, but really, it’s just a paradeof little tricks and flattering phrases.”

“Continental men tend to put women on a pedestal more than Englishmen do,” replied Kay. “And that makes a woman feel good. But I wouldn’t say women are fooled by it.”

It was time, thought Richard, to call a halt. “How about coming down off that pedestal you’ve just been talking about? Then we can all go for a drink.”

Said Kay: “Good idea. And if I may I say so, very chivalrous of you gentlemen.”

Two men and a woman stand
Adam (John Turner) with Peter Parker (Richard Carpenter) and Liz Parrish (Kay Callard)

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