Since 2014, Big Finish’s loving recreations of The Avengers’ lost episodes have transported us back to the formative years of a much loved cult classic.
With a harder edge and less absurdity than it became known for, the show was a crime drama which focused on Dr David Keel and the enigmatic spy who regularly dragged him into dangerous and exciting escapades.
In this final volume, both Steed (Julian Wadham) and Keel (Anthony Howell) enjoy a solo outing, before being reunited with the ever reliable Carol (Lucy Briggs-Owen) for a final hurrah.
Firstly ‘Dragonsfield’, adapted by Ian Potter, sees Steed grapple with romantic tensions and office politics while investigating a murder at a top secret spacesuit manufacturer.
While the scientists are under pressure to perfect their design and score a valuable American contract, malign influences are determined to see them fail. Ramon Tikkaram guest stars as a jobsworth security guard who finds himself involved over his head.
Keel then takes the spotlight for ‘The Far Distant Dead’; he becomes embroiled in a case of mass poisoning while volunteering in the wake of a natural disaster. Tom Mallaburn adapts an entertaining John Lucarotti script in which shifts the action from Mexico to France as Keel unmasks a thoroughly unpleasant villain, played to odious perfection by David Shaw-Parker
Finally in ‘The Dead Air’, adapted by script editor John Dorney, Steed and Keel deal with first sabotage, and then murder, at a laboratory which develops experimental vaccines. Amid the death and danger, and having been rebuffed by one of the scientists, we were highly amused to see Steed turn his charms onto a female guinea pig!
Through twenty-six slices of evocative drama we have grown to admire the principled Dr Keel and his smart receptionist Carol, as well as Julian Wadham’s sublime Steed, and we shall miss their exploits.
Of course, Tunnel of Fear’ (dramatised in Volume 6) has recently been found, but as with Doctor Who, the chances of further discoveries seem so slim that these audio adaptations really have been the ideal way to experience the flavour of those initial stories.
Sadly, it appears that Big Finish’s licencing agreement does not extend into creating original fiction, although they have given us a couple of delightful volumes of Steed and Mrs Peel’ comic adaptations, and it is a shame because we would love to hear a final adventure or two for this line-up perhaps even a happy ending for Keel and Carol, if that is not too sacrilegious a thought.
On television, behind the scenes issues saw Ian Hendry’s Keel depart before the second season as the actor moved on to other things, but for the moment, in this recreation, we are left with a perfect final line which suggests that further adventures await the pair: ‘Come on Dr Keel, we’re needed!’
Extras: A 15-minute chat celebrates the series with contributions from the principal cast and the production team.
Released in January 2017 by Big Finish.
What did you think of Volume 7? Let us know below…