Modern day audiences will think of The Avengers within the Marvel superhero universe, but long before they hit our screens, a British spy drama of the same name ran for eight seasons on television, premiering in 1961.
Most of the first three seasons of The Avengers have been lost so, since 2014, Big Finish have been recreating those scripts in a series of excellent full cast audio plays that capture the spirit of the show and the sound of the era.
Focusing on missing episodes from the first season of the television series, The Avengers: The Lost Episodes Volume 7 provides three more stories that centre on British spies, Dr David Keel and his assistant, John Steed. Anthony Howell (Keel) and Julian Wadham (Steed) play the roles originally portrayed by Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee respectively.
The episodes are not a faithful adaptation, with some story elements having to be pieced together from what is known of the missing episodes, but the scripts show no sign tampering, offering tight, tense and enjoyable action.
The first story, Dragonsfield, is adapted by Ian Potter from a script by Terence Feely. After a man dies in an experimental laboratory, Steed is called in to investigate, facing resistance and secrets amongst those he encounters.
The Far Distant Dead comes from a script by John Lucarotti, adapted by Tom Mallaburn, where Keel pauses in his travels from Chile to help victims of a cyclone, only to stumble into an international conspiracy.
The final story, The Deadly Air, was written by John Dorney from a script by Lester Powell and revolves around an experimental vaccine that is destroyed.
All three tales are directed by Ken Bentley with exceptional sound design by Richard Fox & Lauren Yason that evokes the sounds of television in the 1960s. The entire production feels like it could have been made back then, other than the bonus of today’s sharper sound quality. The action and quality is enhanced enormously by Toby Hrycek-Robinson’s full-bodied music score that is, at times, playful, cheeky, sexy and dramatic.
The Avengers was an action series comprising stand-alone adventures and these audio tales by Big Finish are no different. New listeners can jump in from any volume although it’s unlikely you will be satisfied until you’ve heard all of them.
The Avengers: The Lost Episodes Volume 7 was released in January 2017. It runs for approximately 3 hours and is available from Big Finish Productions.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8