Production Code: BFPAVENGE005

PLOTLINE

Keel receives an anxious telephone call from one of his patients, Faith Braintree, whose husband, Professor Robert Braintree, has mysteriously vanished without trace. Keel decides to make a house call after first telephoning Steed. Professor Braintree is an experimental scientist engaged in top-secret work, and Keel suspects that the fruits of his research may be of interest to more than just the medical profession.

While Keel is attending Faith, a man calling himself Commander Reece turns up at the door, claiming to be an MI5 agent. He mistakes Keel for the professor and tries to kidnap him. With help provided by the timely arrival of Steed, Keel resists his captor. The tables are now turned, and the Avengers give chase, first by car and then on foot, but Reece manages to give them the slip.

Keel has been injured in the struggle and needs to visit the local hospital for treatment. While they are there, Steed persuades Keel to take Professor Braintree's place - with the aim of solving the mystery of his disappearance and to draw out Commander Reece. Steed's plan works, and a second attempt is made to abduct Keel. This time, however, the kidnappers are armed, and the doctor is shot in the chest. Keel is rushed back to the hospital, but even here he is not safe - for not all doctors are on the side of the angels. Hidden behind the benevolent staff is a group of decidedly dangerous men...

Click here to read about the original television episode

PRODUCTION
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes:
Volume 5, Episode 1
Recording Dates:
6, 7, 19, 20 May 2015
Recorded at: Soundhouse Studios
and Moat Studios
Duration: 50 minutes 1 second

RELEASE

Released as a part of
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes,Volume 5
ISBN:
978-1-78178-555-3
Release Date:
21 Jan 2016
Physical Release: Audio CD
Download Release:
MP3 / M4B Formats
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Carol Wilson
Dr Jones
Reece
Professor Braintree
Graham Williams
Dr Brown
Faith Braintree
Contessa
Nurse 1
Nurse 2
Nurse 3
Porter
Dr Miller
Stevens
Pedestrian 1
Pedestrian 2
Anthony Howell
Julian Wadham
Lucy Briggs-Owen
Stephen Critchlow
Harry Long
Harry Long
Bryan Pilkington
Bryan Pilkington
Jane Slavin
Jane Slavin
Jane Slavin
Miranda Raison
Jane Slavin
John Banks
John Banks
Paul Thornley
John Banks
Bryan Pilkington
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

At the present time, no original soundtrack has been released by Big Finish.

BONUS FEATURES

Production Notes Booklet (with CD only)

BUY NOW!

Purchase from Big Finish

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Terence Feely
Adapted for audio by -
Dan Starkey
Recording
Wilfredo Acosta at Soundhouse Studios
(some material recorded at Moat Studios)
Sound Design and CD Mastering Richard Fox and Lauren Yason
Series Theme -
Johnny Dankworth, rearranged by Toby Hrycek-Robinson
Music -
Toby Hrycek-Robinson
CD Extras -
Jamie Griffiths
CD Interviews -
David Richardson
BFP Administration -
Miles Haigh-Ellery, Cheryl Bly and Alison Taylor
Producers' Assistants - Ian Atkins, Sue Cowley, Emily de Fraine, Hannah Peel,
Joseph Smith, Paul Spragg and Frances Welsh
Cover Illustration -
Anthony Lamb
Booklet Design -
Mark Plastow
Booklet Notes -
Richard McGinlay
Web Services -
Hughes Media
Marketing Consultant -
Kris Griffin
Producer
David Richardson
Executive Producers -
Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
Director
Ken Bentley

Thanks to Massimo Moretti, Brian Clemens, Sam Clemens, Marcus Hearn, Richard McGinlay,
Jaz Wiseman, Alan Hayes and Toby Hrycek-Robinson

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF PATRICK MACNEE (1922-2015)

A Big Finish Production

NIGHTMARE DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This audio play is based on the television episode Nightmare, which was originally broadcast on Saturday 28th January 1961 at 10.00pm in the ABC Midlands and ABC North ITV regions.

  • The television version of this episode was the first instalment of The Avengers in which Steed's character took a back seat. This is evidenced by existing synopses and also a production document issued by television producer Leonard White on 23rd December 1960, which describes Nightmare as "predominantly a Keel episode". In a number of subsequent episodes, the spotlight would alternate between Keel and Steed.

  • The television version of Nightmare does not survive today. Nor do any scripts or images from the original production. However, storyline synopses exist, as well as other documentary evidence (see Brought to Audiobook...).

  • The audio adaptation of this episode was recorded at Soundhouse Studios (with some material recorded at Moat Studios) on 6th, 7th, 19th and 20th May 2015. Four episodes were recorded during these sessions: Nightmare, Girl on the Trapeze, Crescent Moon and Diamond Cut Diamond.


  • Brought to Audiobook... Nightmare is easily the most mysterious of The Avengers' lost episodes. Very little is known about Terence Feely's original storyline apart from some rather scant synopses even the entry in Dave Rogers' 1989 book The Complete Avengers is just 188 words long, the briefest one of the lot. Of all the writers to have developed scripts for this fifth volume of audio adventures, Dan Starkey had the least amount of concrete evidence to work with. Nevertheless, he has taken what little he had and used it as the foundation for a highly compelling and delightfully quirky episode of The Avengers. The second act is particularly impressive, being built up from just two short sentences in The Complete Avengers: "The ruse works, and a second attempt is made to kidnap Keel. He escapes, but during the ensuing fight is shot in the chest."

  • The synopsis published in The Complete Avengers describes the actions of a fake MI5 agent and his ally, a corrupt anaesthetist, both of whom threatened Keel in the original version of this episode. However, it is not known for certain which of the characters named in this episode's listing from TV Times magazine fulfilled these villainous roles. Fortunately, TV Times lists the characters in order of appearance: Williams, Keel, Carol, Faith Braintree, Commander Reece, Steed, Dr Brown, Dr Jones, Dr Miller (Professor Braintree is not listed). This allows for some educated guesswork. One can presume that Williams is the first character to appear, and hazard a guess that Reece is the fake MI5 agent who tries to kidnap Keel. Writer Dan Starkey has imagined a suitably Avenger-ish opening sequence featuring Williams (who now has the first name Graham) as Professor Braintree's lab assistant.

  • Of the three hospital physicians, Dr Jones has been selected as the most likely candidate to be the crooked anaesthetist and would-be kidnapper. Dr Brown appears earlier in the TV Times cast list, which suggests that he could be the doctor who attends to Keel during Keel's first visit to the hospital. Brown may therefore represent the hospital's "benevolent staff" referred to in the short synopsis published in TV Times. It is presumed that Reece needs extra help for the second kidnap attempt and ropes in Jones, thus allowing the anaesthetist to recognise Keel later. Dr Miller is a less likely candidate for attempted kidnapper, since the actor who played him on screen, Robert Sansom, would have been a bit too long in the tooth for that kind of caper. Sansom's precise age is not known, though he had been acting for more than two decades by the time he appeared in Nightmare.

  • The synopsis in The Complete Avengers states that "Keel is saved" from the first kidnap attempt, but doesn't specify who saves him. Patrick Macnee's autobiography Blind in One Ear (1988) provides a possible clue as to who comes to Keel's aid Steed. Discussing exterior filming for The Avengers, Macnee recalled that: "Much of our early location work was done around the sleazier parts of London's West End. In those early days our wardrobe seemed to consist of one dirty mac apiece. As Ian [Hendry] and I jumped over the walls and hid in the alleyways of Soho, we surely resembled a couple of dirty old men on the run from police officers who'd just raided a strip joint. In fact, we were the ones chasing criminals... That day we were after some crooks disguised as MI5 men." Though aspects of Macnee's recollection are probably generalisations, information about this episode is so scarce that any piece of circumstantial evidence is valuable. This scene has duly made its way into the Big Finish adaptation, with the additional of a non-speaking accomplice of Reece, named O'Brien.

  • Another reminiscence informs the depiction of the second kidnap attempt. Interviewed by Dave Rogers for his 1995 book The Ultimate Avengers, production designer Robert Fuest recalled director Peter Hammond having a "marvellous idea for a fight in a laboratory. The villain fires his gun and the other guy ducks. As the actor ducks, the prop man fires a marble with a catapult and a test tube explodes. We practised this and it worked like a dream in rehearsals. On the live show, the prop man is nervous, shit-scared, because he knows that it's the longest trajectory in the world. He's nervous and he blows it. He fires the marble and a glass tank shatters into smithereens." Listen out for that! Though Fuest does not name the episode in question, it is highly likely to have been Nightmare - there seem to have been no other episodes of The Avengers directed by Hammond and designed by Fuest that could have featured a laboratory.


  • Trivia... In the first of several in-jokes in this volume of The Lost Episodes, Reece describes his medically trained helper as a "talented amateur", a term that has often been applied to Steed's partners against crime (it is heard in the prologue to American editions of the Emma Peel episodes). Reece can therefore be regarded as a kind of evil Steed, with Dr Jones as his anti-Keel.

  • The CD booklet accompanying this release carried a dedication to actor Patrick Macnee, who died on 25th June 2015.


  • Stop Press... Quoted in a news story on the Big Finish website announcing details of this box set on 26th May 2015, Dan Starkey described the process of bringing this challenging episode to life: "I've had great fun in contributing to this set, both as a performer and writing the reconstruction of Nightmare. It's been very helpful appearing as One-Ten and numerous other characters across the range, as I've been able to absorb the feel of the series, but it's another step again actually reimagining a lost episode. [Fellow adapter] John Dorney was of course extremely helpful, talking me through some of the specifics of the format - the fact that we have to respect the nature of a script written for... live broadcast in 1961, with some of the technical ramifications that entails - and [director] Ken Bentley was very incisive in his comments on the various drafts of my script - it's a lot leaner and more exciting as a result. As to the content, the synopsis of the story that I was working from is quite tantalising, but rather impressionistic in terms of the actual plot: I hope I've filled in the gaps in a satisfying way and I'm really looking forward to hearing the finished product! Certainly it was great fun writing a thoroughly unpleasant character like Reece, and Dr Keel really does get knocked about in this story!"


  • And Finally... This episode's synopsis in The Complete Avengers concludes with Steed, Keel and Carol enjoying a celebratory drink with the Braintrees. The authors of this website had previously dismissed this event as unlikely, and we omitted it from our summary of the story in the book Two Against the Underworld. However, Dan Starkey has managed to incorporate the scene with consummate style. He has Steed smuggling a bottle of Champagne into the hospital ward where Keel is recovering, in lieu of the customary 'get well soon' gift of grapes. "It used to be grapes, anyway," Steed explains!

Plotline by Richard McGinlay Declassified by Richard McGinlay
Images
Big Finish Productions Reproduced with permission

With thanks to David Richardson, John Dorney, Mark Plastow, Kenny Smith
and Big Finish Productions for their kind assistance

 

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