In his memoir ‘King of Fashion’, Poiret wrote ’It was on returning from a Bal des Quat'Z'Arts, in the month of May 1911, I think, that I decide to give, in my salons and gardens in Paris, an unforgettable fete, that I called 'The Thousand and Second Night“. He was aided and abetted by his close friend Raoul Dufy. Poiret described how, on the night, his guests had their costumes vetted and if they had arrived in evening dress or fancy dress that bore no relation to his Persian theme they were requested to go upstairs and change into costumes that he had thoughtfully provided, but if they refused then they were asked to leave.
Mademoiselle Barachin obviously wanted to look her best and commissioned Monsieur Poiret himself to make her costume. She was rewarded by being dressed by the couturier as 'the Queen of Persia’, which was surely a great compliment. His own beautiful wife, Madame Denise Poiret, was dressed as the 'Queen of the Harem’. She was ensconced in a large gilded cage surrounded by her 'ladies of honour’.
His guests were treated to a lavish party such as had never been seen before with orchestras, dancers, exotic food, the trees covered with’ luminous fruit’, exotic birds and monkeys, who all escaped in the dawn over the roof tops of Paris. Poiret himself, was dressed as the Sultan of course. He sadly recalled, ’These fetes, in which I gathered together all my friends, did me a great deal of harm among my enemies, and raised against me those who had not the good fortune to be admitted to them.’ This opulent party was seen in retrospect as a last great 'hurrah’ before World War I was declared later in June that year. Poiret’s business post war, with his love of excess, orientalism and fantasy was never to fully recover in a world irrevocably changed by war.
The performances in Human Nature/The Family of Blood are so. damn. good.
I’m giving Freema Agyeman the top billing
here, because wow. God bless Paul Cornell for being the one and
only writer of the series to properly engage with the issue of race, and
actually, to properly engage with the character of Martha Jones as a human
being. Freema takes that rare
opportunity and she soars, proving herself to have acting chops in the same
league as the most recent Doctor Who greats,
Jenna Coleman and Pearl Mackie. Though
she’s brilliant through the whole second half, it’s actually the first half
that I noticed most this time – until the second act, the script leaves it down
to Freema, and Freema alone, to show that Martha hasn’t lost her memory, that she is the mysterious visitor from the
future in this story. So much of what
makes the character work here is beyond the spoken word.
David Tennant, for playing a character
who isn’t the Doctor, and then coming back to play the Doctor in one of his
most spine-tingling sequences ever. And
again, bless Paul Cornell for being the one writer to engage with the flaws of this Doctor and not his
strengths. The Tenth Doctor works best
in stories like this, where you see him for the unpleasant bastard he is. The Doctor is elevated to a mythic, biblical
(literally, considering the John Smith analogy) level here, but that all
changes when Joan interrogates him and you realise, actually, that he’s just a
very powerful coward.
Jessica Hynes, for being magnificent
throughout, and for making me cry in that last shot of her.
The older actor to play Timothy, who is
uncredited on Wikipedia, for making me cry again without even saying anything,
Harry Lloyd, for creeping the shit out of
Thomas Sangster, who is not of this
world, for proving that when the Doctor goes back to being a white male – which
hopefully won’t be too soon – he should be the one playing him.
And everyone else. This is one of those episodes, like Heaven Sent and The Doctor Falls, in which everybody involved is doing their damned
best to make an award-worthy episode of television. No wonder they brought James Strong back,
since this is one of the best-directed pre-Hurran Doctor Who stories. And
though most of the soundtrack sadly went unreleased, it still has a very
special place in my heart – sometimes Murray Gold just pulls these sorts of
scores out of nowhere, and every time they blow me away.