One cannot escape from the fact that these brand new audio adaptations of the mostly lost first season of The Avengers are inspired and bursting with all the vitality of the Sixties.
Julian Wadham and Anthony Howell continue to impress with their fantastic takes on the roles of John Steed and Dr Keel. And with the fifth and the sixth volumes, one gets filled with more tension at the very strong drama unfolding within the stories.
Plenty of Laughs
It is also plain to hear the rising sense of awesome humour woven out in these tales, the same that would later become more prevalent in the show. This reviewer had several moments when his chest was hurting with laughter at the wonderful humour. But what this series always managed was never to go over the top in the laughs department. As in fact, despite the good humour in places, some of the stories here are extremely dark and gritty.
Usual Mixed Bag
We are treated to the usual mixed bags of subjects that all connect with this reviewer. This first season of the show was very strong indeed. We have Dr Keel having to fight for his life in the edge of your seat NIGHTMARE written by Dan Starkey and we get a particularly notable performance from Julian Wadham in the last episode on the fifth set DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND by John Dorney. Where we see, that beneath the veneer of the man who at times can seem a bit detached and distant there is a great concern for those who have been killed by the psychopaths our heroes have to contend with. We also get treated to an island romp with the excellent CRESCENT MOON, where Steed must sort out the puzzle of a strange abduction.
Lucy Comes Into Her Own
We also get a chance to see Lucy Briggs-Owen come into her own with a more meatier role in the great Dennis Spooner episode ‘GIRL ON THE TRAPEZE’, and it’s good to see such a good role for her in this episode as Carol. This episode is a Steed-less one, but Anthony handles being the sole front man of the episode that one doesn’t miss Steed quite so much as one could.
Truly Authentic Sixties
As per usual both the direction and the sound design are the usual excellent quality one has come to expect of Big Finish. These episodes all sound truly authentic sixties! Especially on stories like the opener of the sixth volume, THE FRIGHTENERS, which manages to have a cunning plot that doesn’t once sink into unfathomability! And we have a real ‘phew’ moment in the volume six closing episode TUNNEL OF FEAR, where the good Steed is very nearly done for!
One More Set To Come
The only downside to these two volumes is now we only have one more set of these Lost Episodes to come! It’s been a hugely entertaining and brilliant series where Big Finish have totally done themselves proud with these exciting adventures from a golden age of British television.
The fact that these stories work just as well on audio is a real testament to the talented folks at Big Finish. One just wishes they could continue this staggeringly good audio series that this reviewer for one just can’t find a single fault with! 10/10
More story and cast info are available from Big Finish.
Check out our reviews for volumes 1-4 at our dedicated Big Finish pages.