John Dorney dives in to rework this fourth strip from the Diana comic that first appeared back in February/March 1967, and as with the other stories in the set, he uses the six pages of the original as a very rough skeleton for his tale of Vikings on the Norfolk Broads. There were a few appalling puns in the earlier stories, but Dorney has really emphasised this element of Steed’s character, with some lines that work because of the quick repartee between Julian Wadham and Olivia Poulet.
Dorney’s used all the incidents from the strip but added considerably to the overarching plot – giving a much better reason for the Avengers to be investigating, expanding the whole Viking element, and creating some more Avengers patented eccentrics (for some reason I keep imagining the Carry On cast in the roles!). Director Ken Bentley allows the inherent absurdity of the situation to bubble under the surface, so that everyone involved – especially those with a less-than-sensible game plan – takes it very seriously, which means that when the Avengers do come in contact with the real world at the Air Force Base that’s being targeted, it doesn’t feel as jarring as it might.
I know that there will be some people who will never accept anyone other than Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg as Steed and Mrs Peel, but I really believe that this is one of Big Finish’s best recastings yet. (If you want to see how Steed and Mrs Peel can fall flat, don’t just look at the 1998 movie, but find the South African radio plays… they are truly unbelievably bad!) This first box set has been a delight from start to finish – and I really hope that some way can be found for these Avengers to keep going beyond the end of set two…
Verdict: A fine flourish to complete the set. 8/10