With the recent release of a seventh volume of ‘The Avengers – Lost Episodes from Big Finish, we are taking a look back at the recreation of this lost era.
The Avengers is surely a programme many people have heard of. Originally aired in the Sixties and starring Patrick Macnee in surely his most famous role as John Steed. A government agent most certainly on the side of the angels and justice.
The original first series of this espionage/sci-fi TV combo is sadly almost completely lost now. But thanks to the great thinking of Big Finish in conjunction with Studio Canal we now have the chance to hear these lost classic episodes brought back to life.
Steed is recreated very ably by Julian Wadham, with Anthony Howell as his reliable sidekick Dr Keel. But the question with this series on audio was always was going to be, would it work?
Julian Wadham makes the wise decision not to emulate or just copy the late Patrick Macnee. Instead, he decides to just play Steed in his own style. And one has to admit Julian is superb as the suave, umbrella totting agent. He has made the classic role at his own. Anthony Howell rises to the challenge of recreating Dr Keel, originally played by Ian Hendry in the TV show. Both these actors at once reignite all the allure of the timeless original series.
Volumes one and two of the series have been solely adapted by John Dorney. John is a superb and able adapter, and he does an incredible job in bringing these lost episodes to our ears! And together with the polished sound design and high production values these episodes immediately bring the feel of the Sixties into the 2000s! Ken Bentley’s perfect direction only adds to the allure of these great stories.
Bad Guy Piece
In these first two volumes, we begin with a tragedy as Dr Keel has to investigate why his wife to be has been ruthlessly shot down. As a two-part series opener, HOT SNOW and BROUGHT TO BOOK are remarkably strong episodes. Then we face SQUARE ROOT OF EVIL which is a great going-undercover-to-expose-the-bad-guys-piece. The first set ends on a whimsical high with ONE FOR THE MORTUARY.
Bit More Serious
Volume two starts to present a little more of the Avengers vein of humour, but seriousness still abounds. There are arson rings, dancing schools, governmental blackmails and foolish criminals carrying isotopes and even a frame up for Dr Keel to sort out. Many brilliant ingredients that blend together to prove The Avengers immediately was destined to succeed! It had such strong storylines that weren’t overburdened by over the top violence. One can also not fault this series for how fast paced and nicely flowing every story is.
The stories in volume two just build on the success of the first, ASHES OF ROSES and PLEASE DONT FEED THE ANIMALS, THE RADIOACTIVE MAN and finally DANCE WITH DEATH all intrigue and divert in equal glorious measure!
Very Worthy Take On The Original
These stories within these first two sets are highly engaging and maybe just a little more serious than the TV show later became. But there is still some of the Avengers humour there already in these stories. There is solid and dependable acting from such as Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred and Terry Molloy. Who all bring an added layer of gravitas to the stories.
So all in all, one must judge the Avengers Lost Episodes to be an immediate and very worthy take on the original timeless classic. There is no doubt that the creators of the show and Patrick Macnee would be proud of these audio stories in these first two delightful sets!
So do The Avengers work just as well on audio as it did on TV all those years ago! YES!! With a resounding 10 out of 10!
The Avengers – The Lost Episodes volumes 1 & 2 are available to buy on CD and download directly from the Big Finish Website.
More cast and crew information can also be found on the website.