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ldo 06-04-2014 04:14 AM

Preservation Of Old TV
It is well-known that a lot of the early Doctor Who episodes from the early 1960s are lost. Of the first series of The Avengers from 1961, where John Steed has a male sidekick, just one episode remains. This is because the BBC recorded these on videotape, which was fiendishly expensive at the time, so it had to be wiped and reused.

By contrast, the ITV-produced Danger Man, dating from 1959/1960, survives in its entirety to this day. I think this was because it was shot on film, which you couldnít reuse anyway.

I wonder, did this make that much difference to production costs? Back then, black-and-white British TV used a 405-line system (predating even 625-line PAL!); given that the tape was so expensive, was it really that much cheaper to use it for shooting instead of film?

boatshewsd2 06-04-2014 04:35 AM

Worth Saving...
Re The Avengers: I wasn't aware that virtually all of the first-series episodes had been lost; my understanding was that Ian Hendry was something of a notable star at that time, and the program was originally built around him for that reason (Steed came on later, and quite a different figure at that!)...

Makes one glad that Honor Blackman's episodes fared better; especially as we Americans originally met Mrs Peel, long before we got to know Mrs Gale!

ldo 06-04-2014 05:43 AM

I have a book with (not entirely correct) synopses of all the Avengers episodes, including the lost ones. The original premise of the series was that the wife of Dr David Keel (played by Ian Hendry) was killed by gangsters. So this shadowy figure called John Steed appears on the scene, to take advantage of his skills (and his anger) to bring some of these gangland figures to justice. Avenge the death of his wife, in other words. Hence the title The Avengers (the point of which was somewhat lost in later seasons).

In the one surviving Season 1 episode, the opening credits say ďstarring Ian Hendryí, followed by ďalso starring Patrick MacneeĒ. So Hendry was indeed the main star, like you say.

boatshewsd2 06-04-2014 06:16 AM

Brought To Book!
Yep, wonder if we might have the same book? (The Complete Avengers; believe Dave Rogers was the author) At least there look to have been quite a number of still photos that remain, and I'm glad the book had them!

Weren't there something like 3 episodes during the first Blackman series, scripts intended for Hendry (who had since moved on) but filmed instead with another actor/character?

As to "the point," as you say, I can only offer a - well, American, solution. To help introduce the series to the American audience, the now-famous "chessboard" sequence was filmed and included at the start of every episode, wherein we first met the "top professional" and the "talented amateur":

"Extraordinary crimes against the people, and the state, have to be avenged, by agents extraordinary..." And the rest, as they say, is history...

ldo 06-04-2014 06:38 AM

The Complete Avengers, Dave Rogers, thatís the one.

You know, I donít recall ever seeing that chessboard intro, despite having heard so much about it. Maybe it was only shown in the US? But in any case, itís to be found on the ever-reliable ...

By the way, there was a big improvement in picture quality in season 4 of The Avengers (the coming of Diana Rigg, albeit still in black and white) compared with the earlier seasons with Honor Blackman and the rest. Season 4 was shot on film, while the earlier ones were on the old 405-line videotape, and looked downright murky.

Season 5 added colour, but I donít know if it was the digital transfers I saw, but they didnít look all that sharp compared to season 4.

ldo 06-04-2014 06:47 AM

Regarding scripts originally for Hendry and repurposed, Season 2 had Steed rotating among three different sidekicks: Honor Blackman playing Catherine Gale, widowed kick-arse anthropologist, Julie Stevens as Venus Smith, night-club singer, young and somewhat naÔve, and Jon Rollason as Dr Martin King.

I can only find 3 episodes with Dr King, so perhaps those are the 3 you mention as being written for Hendry.

boatshewsd2 06-04-2014 09:26 PM

Thanks for the "chessboard" clip! It still stands up pretty well, doesn't it? ;)

Rogers says something about it in the book, and although he doesn't just come right out and say so, I think that intro was made just for us here in the States. Goldfinger was our first real look at Honor Blackman; but it was The Avengers that really put her on the map...

As for Emma Peel, well, she started out somewhat in the general mold of Cathy Gale (that black-leather "chessboard" outfit is still killer! :sneaky:) and later on evolved into her own distinctive identity. We all wanted those one-piece zippered catsuits! (giggle)

When the series went to color, a new sans-chessboard intro was filmed to go with it. Now I've seen someone "open" a bottle of champagne with a sword (elegant, and amazing!), but Steed and Emma gave it a whole new spin, to a nicely-crackling percussive underscore. No narration, and frankly none needed!

The Avengers was, and remains, a true original. Nobody's ever come close...

Workshop Artist 27-05-2015 05:36 PM

Is there anything I can do to get involved with it?

johnnybear 19-10-2015 06:51 PM

There are actually two full episodes from the first series of The Avengers in existence and part of the very first one too!

Ferrain 21-01-2016 06:48 PM

The Avengers was a Associated British Corporation (Later Thames), a contractor within the ITV network not a BBC production. Lew Grade owned (another franchise within that network) ATV & a subsidary ITC was set up for the sale of programs to the US, so its production output was usually filmed in colour to make selling easier.

pmcau 31-08-2016 01:56 PM

I'd love to see missing Avengers animated like they're doing Doctor Who.

Tech_Designer 01-09-2016 02:58 AM

The BBC stopped the animation on Doctor Who as the last 2 DVD stories had telesnaps instead. They also have refused to do the very last Doctor Who story (The Crusades) that has 2 out of 4 episodes existing.

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