The final episode in this box set is one of the grittier stories that The Avengers did in this first season. Around this time on television there was a series called Fabian of the Yard, based on the reminiscences of a police inspector, and in his book London After Dark, Fabian talks about call girls, and the way in which they are pulled into the profession. I suspect it’s highly likely that Bill Strutton read this book, or one very similar to it, when he was researching the background to this story. The audio, as the television episode, doesn’t shy away from the nasty side of “the life”, and full marks to the Big Finish team for presenting it in a totally glamour-free way.
The episode is in many ways all about greed. The girls whom the gang try to seduce into working for them are all identified by their willingness to accept a obscenely large tip. Steed meanwhile gets greedy when he gets an opportunity to break the gang, and pushes his friendship with David Keel to the limit.
The closing scene between Steed and Keel could easily be a final confrontation between them, although we know that there were more TV episodes (and there are more audios) to come. Julian Wadham and Anthony Howell showed the often unstated affection between the two men earlier in this set, but here we see the absolute distinction between them, and an explanation why David Keel eventually will move away from Steed’s orbit.
In the extras Julian Wadham comments that he feels that he has been bringing Steed closer to himself in this set of recordings; from the outside, though, it feels more as if he’s relaxed into the part, and ironically as a result he fits the image of the Macnee incarnation more now than in some of the earlier stories.
As David Richardson points out, we are now at the halfway point of these recordings – but I really hope that Big Finish are able to continue the license, either with new stories for Steed and Keel, or possibly moving on into the Cathy Gale era.
Verdict: A story that amply demonstrates the difference between The Avengers as they originally appeared, and the popular conception of the show. 9/10