Mrs Peel returns as she and Steed take on some new cases with nautical nuances, chaotic clowns, flaming fireballs and dizzying deja-vu…
Big Finish happened upon a goldmine of entertainment when they got their hands on The Avengers. Although they initially began with missing episode adaptations their skills impressed rights holders StudioCanal and they were then allowed to do further adaptations of the eras that everyone remembers. Starting with the eight original Diana magazine strips in 2016, the sets received critical acclaim for their accuracy to the original series. Back in 2019 the Comic Strip Adaptations continued, this time from the pages of the infamous TV Comic. For this set we are back to the legendary team of Steed and Peel for four stories from early in the TV Comic run. Things are about to get a whole load of crazy…
Listen Hear… by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky
Steed has a brilliant idea. A little holiday for him and Mrs Peel. On a nice little boat out at sea. Just them. A picnic worth a small fortune and some espionage-grade spyware, much to Emma’s chagrin. Turns out there’s a missing agent and a powerful weapon out in the ocean and Steed and Peel are not the only ones out for it. But even with enemy agents, Steed and Peel feel like someone else is listening in…
The legendary writing duo returns to the Big Finish range their names are synonymous with and for very good reason. Their episodes are based on some of the most engaging, and sometimes the silliest premises in the history of the franchise. This story is no expectation. Whilst taking a plot that does contain a good number of thriller beats, Khan and Salinsky inject a healthy dose of the humour they are known for and help make this already engaging story a pure delight to listen to. Alongside the returning dynamic duo of Julian Wadham and Olivia Poulet, Jessica Martin, Marek Oravec and Nigel Fairs join the supporting cast with all three getting to let loose. Tense but side-splittingly hilarious, it’s a proper belter of an episode to start things off.
The Clown Has Two Faces by Dan Starkey
Steed and Peel have a bit on their plate at the moment. A number of notable names have been assaulted in the dead of night and had important plans stolen. That would be annoying in of itself, if it weren’t for the assailants being clowns. However, it becomes a blessing in disguise when the clowns are tracked back to a circus with plans other than entertainment…
After turning his hand to writing a number of Whoniverse scripts, and them being very well received, Commander Strax himself Dan Starkey takes the pen for this script. Immediately from the blurb, it goes straight for the silly but revels in it! As well as the intriguing mystery presented, the interactions between the leads and the entertainers are hilarious. Starkey’s descriptions of the clown assaults are equal parts unnerving and utterly silly. Stephen Wright, Eve Webster, Jake Wardle and Starkey himself, comprise the supporting cast and give all they can in their performances, sometimes even outshining the two leads! Although going down the “silly” route, Starkey and his crew give us confirmation that they are some of, if not THE “greatest showmen”…
(Reviewer’s note: yeah, it’s bad, I’ll get my coat)
White Heat by Gemma Langford
A storm has descended upon London, but this time, it is a storm of fire. Multiple fireballs have torched the city and a message has been given to the masses, demanding a ransom lest the history of 1666 repeat itself. Steed and Peel only have one lead; a single survivor of one of the attacks. But as the case progresses, the duo will discover a terrible link to their survivor…
For this story, Gemma Langford has decided that far-flung does not need to mean silly, but can mean exaggerated. This story feels like a James Bond plot dialled up to 12. Maniacal villain. Over the top plan. But with an aura of thrilling and tense action throughout, with more twists and turns than you can find in the Twilight Zone! Although unlikely given rights and costs, this episode gives the best case for Big Finish doing a full on James Bond series and is easily the highlight of this set. With the cast of Jeany Spark, Leo Spark and Corrinne Wicks rounding out the supporting players’ range from maniacal to heartbreaking.
Now You See Him… by John Dorney
A number of high ranking scientists are defecting across borders, but no one can figure out how it is happening. Or even why it is happening. So much so that Steed and Peel are baffled and do not know where to begin. But after a night out to the variety show, they may just have their answer. But the mastermind behind it all has plans for Steed and Peel. Plans that will flourish one day or another…
Avengers alumni and script editor John Dorney takes the helm for the finale and gives us a good story to close out on. Starting off as a standard thriller, step by step it develops into The Avengers we all know and love. But as the story progresses a revelation is made that ties this story back to a previous one we have heard, but not in the way you may think. Daniel Hawksford, Rosie Jones and Paul Putner take on the supporting roles who help make this episode a good one to sign off with. But out of all the performers, the crown must be given to Nicholas Asbury as Margrave the Magnificent who out hams everyone with ease and is a pure joy to listen to, especially with the two leads!
Swinging Sounds and Dramatic Direction
On top of the acclaimed writing and acting talent, this set is directed to perfection by son of original TV Director Samuel Clemens. Jamie Robertson and Steve Foxon take on music and sound design duties and excel at them with ease. With Foxon having handled sound design on every Comic Strip Adaptation set so far, and Robertson bringing his experience from The Prisoner and using it to full effect here, creating a score full of epic silliness and whimsical thrills.
One To Go?
All the elements from acting, writing, directing, sound design and music, make this set pure and classic Avengers condensed into one glorious four hour package. It is perfect for veterans of the series, or even any newcomers to the tales of Steed and Peel. The only thing now is that there is one last set featuring Steed and Tara King set for release next year. Will that be the final hurrah for The Avengers? Or will we see more stories beyond that, possibly some with Beth Chalmers’ Cathy Gale? Or even some new stories for The New Avengers? Only time will tell, but in the meantime we can hope…
The Avengers: Steed and Peel Comic Strip Adaptations: Volume 4 is available for purchase on collectors edition CD and download from the Big Finish website and other stockists.
Four more thrilling episodes, based on the adventures of Steed and Mrs Peel in the TV Comic strips:
4.1 Listen Hear… by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky
Steed gets an earful, Emma sees the light.
An agent has been lost at sea shortly after getting hold of a revolutionary new device that the Ministry is very keen to acquire. Steed and Peel are sent to retrieve it, but the enemy agents also on the trail are the least of their worries. Someone is listening in on their every move. But who?
4.2 The Clown Has Two Faces by Dan Starkey
Steed has his cake and eats it, Emma flies through the air.
Top secret plans have been stolen, and all signs point to a travelling circus. Infiltrating, Steed and Mrs Peel find themselves in the middle of a deadly serious plot. When you take on clowns, can you be certain of having the last laugh?
4.3 White Heat by Gemma Langford
Steed goes North, Emma feeds the flames.
Fireballs are descending upon London and a ransom is being demanded. Steed and Peel have a single lead – an agent badly injured in a similar attack. If she can lead them to the person responsible, they might just have a chance to stop the destruction… but if not, they will soon witness the second great fire of London!
4.4 Now You See Him… by John Dorney
Steed opens the box, Emma does a disappearing act.
Scientists are defecting and no-one is entirely sure how or why. With their quarries disappearing on the street, Steed and Peel are baffled. Surely a night out at the theatre can’t provide the solution?
- Julian Wadham (John Steed)
- Olivia Poulet (Emma Peel)
- Nicholas Asbury (Margrave the Magnificent)
- Nigel Fairs (Sir Valentine Beauregard / Lighthouse Keeper / Landlord)
- Daniel Hawksford (Jacko)
- Rosie Jones (Jackie / Carding / Jones)
- Jessica Martin (Mrs Hendrik / Agent ZPX)
- Marek Oravec (Mr Kroger / Charlie)
- Paul Putner (Curtis / Professor Brand / Bartleby)
- Jeany Spark (Anna / Nurse / Computer )
- Leo Staar (Jack / Agent Rogers / Rocliffe)
- Dan Starkey (Colino / Professor Gumm / Coconut Shy)
- Jake Wardle (Ivan / Nikki / Slim Dexter)
- Eve Webster (Lydia Karlova / Nurse / Candy-Floss Seller)
- Corrinne Wicks (Agent Harris / Patient / Radio Presenter)
- Stephen Wight (“Fearless” Flint / Tannoy / Policeman)
- Written by John Dorney, Robert Khan, Tom Salinsky, Dan Starkey and Gemma Langford
- Cover Art by Anthony Lamb
- Director: Samuel Clemens
- Executive Producers: Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
- Music: Jamie Robertson
- Producer: David Richardson
- Script Editors: John Dorney and Roland Moore
- Sound Design: Steve Foxon
- Theme Music by Laurie Johnson