Thanks to the vagaries of iTunes coding (the download didn’t put them in the correct order), this was the first of the new box set that I listened to, and thus the first of the totally recreated episodes, where the amount of information that scriptwriter John Dorney had to work from was minimal. And the greatest compliment I can pay this is that I really cannot tell the difference between this and one that’s taken from a full pre-existing script – Dorney has worked on this series for long enough to know the characters of John Steed and David Keel inside out, and he brings that to play in this. It’s good to see Steed put through the wringer rather more than usual: one of the act breaks allows Julian Wadham to take the agent to a place we’ve not really seen before.
A diamond smuggling story from this period has to avoid being a rehash of Ian Fleming’s fourth 007 novel, and Dorney maintains the rather more down to earth feel of The Avengers 1960/1 style, rather than allowing it to go into the sorts of flights of fancies that an Emma Peel or Tara King variant of this story might adopt. A couple of lines of dialogue may feel a bit clichéd, but they’re exactly what drama from this period would have included, and it would be wrong to put a 2016 spin onto stories that are designed to fit seamlessly alongside the extant ones.
I know it’s highly unlikely that we’ll get “new” stories for Steed and Keel after these box sets finish – but one can hope, and frankly, we’re pretty much getting that here…
Verdict: Another highly entertaining episode. 8/10