Following the new 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.
Big Finish made a good decision to adapt the mostly lost first series of The Avengers into brilliant audio life. They have treated the wonderfully nostalgic show with a touch that seems to come with ease.
John Dorney as the adapter of all but one of these episodes definitely has a gift. Big Finish are committed to bringing out the best in their audio dramas. As per usual, the sound design brings to life the 1960’s era of the show. I don’t know how they do it but the sound designers are masters of great incident and music. And as ever, both Julian Wadham and Anthony Howell continue to prove their mettle in the roles of John Steed and Dr Keel.
With these third and fourth sets, the writing continues to grip and not let go. And we have the usual wealth of subject matters, that are always handled very well indeed. A testament to a show that is now so well-known and long standing. The stories this time are getting more tense and more enjoyable.
Volume Three begins with an attempt to halt a prison escape ring in THE SPRINGERS. The pacing, as ever, is spot on. Then we get onto a particularly relevant piece in racial views that still abound today. Handled badly this could have come across as a crass episode, but THE YELLOW NEEDLE is not. It’s a very effective drama and has some resonant themes that do leave considerable food for thought.
We move on to DOUBLE DANGER which boasts some great scenes of threat and menace surrounding the death of an important man. Diamonds are woven into this great tale as the heart of all evil once again. And it all means a rough road for Dr Keel. Anthony Howell particularly seems to enjoy this story, upping his game with some superb acting. But Julian is never one who is overshadowed. We end the third set with the very sinister TOY TRAP. A very worthwhile and engaging wrap up to an extremely impressive third volume.
Tension, action, espionage and above all else adventure continue to inflate in volume four. This time assassins run amok in the opener KILL THE KING. This episode seems to run like a freight train. This is followed by fraud in A CHANGE OF BAIT and it’s always good to see, or rather hear, sore-headed gangsters meet with the kind of justice the Avengers serve up in HUNT THE MAN DOWN. As a new adapter on this story, Justin Richards is just as able and reliable as John Dorney.
The climax of the fourth volume is DEAD OF WINTER. Nazis and Neo-Nazis always seem to be a great source for full on dilemma and drama over the decades. And in the finale episode, we get the usual Avengers style adventure that raises its themes strongly but never lets you pause for breath! And they deal with this long-standing theme very well as it doesn’t feel tired or repetitive.
Don’t be surprised how good these stories are, what with the standard of actors on board to bring them to vivid life. Adrian Lukis, Miranda Raison, Dan Starkey, Mark Bonnar and even Dalek voice maestro Nicholas Briggs….well, these names are belonging to some of the best in the business! No wonder the drama is so engaging and full on.
We are wonderfully inept at describing how good The Avengers always was, and still is today with these superb audio adaptations. They continue to get better and better and we are looking forward to the rest of the series to come.
This is a corker of a series! 10/10. Long may this continue.
The Avengers – The Lost Episodes volumes 3 & 4 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.