Tournament, Channel 4

by | May 26, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

An intriguing, faithful re-enactment of the jousting tournaments of yore that vividly portrayed the premier medieval sport in all it’s incandescent detail.

What to say if you didn’t like it

A pointless mockery of an age when men rose through society with the force of their arms rather than their wits and intellect, while women were reduced to dumb muses.

What was good about it?

• Historical combat expert Mike Loades and his infectious fervour to stage an authentic joust.

• The brutal film of the primitive tournaments (Tournes), in which a group of knights would enter a huge melee, where a number would be killed, as a form of training for real battles and any knight captured would have to pay a ransom to secure his release.

• Emrys the armourer who was so mystical he didn’t even have a surname.

• The violent Tournes were only made more passive when the romantic notions of King Arthur infiltrated medieval culture and the jousts became quests for the heart of a lady.

• The pre-joust dance in which the modern knights dressed as dandy fops, and paraded about the court like John Travolta with rigor mortis.

• The actual joust was quite exciting as Nick, Rick, Dan and David tried to break their lances on the shield, torso or head of their opponent. Although we were disappointed that nobody was dismounted and the battle continued on foot with 10-foot broadswords, but as Mike repeatedly averred that wouldn’t have been realistic.

What was bad about it?

• The persistent, breathless references that jousting “hasn’t been seen in years” as though it were a much mourned extinct indigenous species being reintroduced

to these Isles when it was simply men on horses with big sticks.

• We didn’t really get enough of a flavour of the four “knights” to pick a favourite to cheer on the tournament – horseman David Shearing was proficient; Army major Nick May was quite posh; US copper Rick Pelicano was accident prone; and cowboy Dan Worth won the favour of the damsels at the pre-joust dance.

• The actual jousting tournament only occupied the last five minutes and wasn’t delivered with any form of narrative tension, which meant after the first run, where both horsemen missed, the next we knew was Rick was on the verge of victory, which he duly secured.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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