An episode from quite a bit later in the first season completes this first box set of stories, and you can see a difference in style already starting to develop – one of the fabled Avengers eccentrics makes an appearance (someone devoted to ensuring that our favourite pets have a suitable memorial – not a character that would necessarily be found on screens today), and the show is spreading its wings, with a large part of this story set in Switzerland.
You might also wonder if the producers were beginning to run out of ideas for ways to involve Keel in Steed’s world: Keel’s presence at the conference is more than a little coincidental. There’s a certain familiarity to other plot elements too, albeit from a Joe 90 episode (Tony Barwick’s Business Holiday) that originally aired seven years later – although to be fair, there are only so many of these sorts of stories you can do!
There’s a nice touch in the involvement of script author Brian Clemens’ son Sam in the episode, with Big Finish stalwarts Nick Briggs and Terry Molloy also on board. Keel’s surgery work is becoming increasingly less important, so there’s no Dr Tredding, although Lucy Briggs-Owen’s Carol has a key part to play.
Overall, this box set has to be judged a great success: Howell and Wadham work very well together as Keel and Steed; the scripts have kept the flavour, as well as a large percentage, of the original dialogue, which has been brought to life as authentically as possible (I do think we should have had a couple of fluffs in there just for the genuine broadcast as live feel); and the music feels like the scores from 1961 (watch Hot Snow’s surviving first act to see just how close it comes). It’s reawakened a love for The Avengers which was first triggered by the 1980s late night repeats on Channel 4 – and now I’ve got 139 other episodes on the way…!
Verdict: All that’s missing is the dodgy back projection for another authentic slice of 1960s Avenging. 8/10