Production Code: BFPAVENGE006

PLOTLINE

Wealthy businessman Sir Thomas Weller telephones a man known as the Deacon regarding a "nuisance abatement" problem. A young man named Jeremy de Willoughby has been paying unwanted attention to Weller's beautiful daughter, Marylin, and Sir Thomas wants the frighteners put on him good and hard. In his secret headquarters behind a grocery store, the Deacon instructs a couple of goons called Moxon and Nature Boy to carry out the task.

Steed is on the trail of the Deacon and his boys. Arranging a meeting with Keel in the back of a taxi, Steed asks for the GP's help in dealing with a case of "massage contracting". He explains that this euphemism actually refers to beating the daylights out of someone. Tipped off by an elderly flower seller, a waiter and a bus conductor, all contacts of Steed, the doctor and the spy track de Willoughby to his home. They arrive too late to prevent his beating by Moxon and Nature Boy, but they are able to knock out Moxon. They take de Willoughby and Moxon to Keel's surgery, for treatment and interrogation.

While Keel attends to de Willoughby's injuries, Steed puts the frighteners on Moxon, threatening the hoodlum with his own straight razor. Keel puts a stop to this ill-treatment, but this allows de Willoughby to get away before he can be questioned by Steed. The agent pursues de Willoughby, leaving Keel alone with Moxon. When Moxon tries to leave too, Keel uses desperate measures of his own and rushes in where Steeds and angels would fear to tread...

Click here to read about the original television episode

PRODUCTION
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes:
Volume 6, Episode 1
Recording Dates:
21 Dec 2015, 6 Jan,
12 Feb 2016
Recorded at: Moat Studios
Duration: 56 minutes 50 seconds

RELEASE

Released as a part of
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes,Volume 6
ISBN:
978-1-78178-557-7
Release Date:
20 Jul 2016
Physical Release: Audio CD
Download Release:
MP3 / M4B Formats
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Carol Wilson
Sir Thomas Weller
Marilyn Weller
The Deacon
Moxon
Nature Boy
Jeremy de Willoughby
Beppi Collissimo
Insp Charlie Foster
Nigel
Secretary
Mrs Briggs
Fred the Cabbie
Grekio
Street Sweeper
Butler
Waiter
Flower Seller
Anthony Howell
Julian Wadham
Lucy Briggs-Owen
Hugh Ross
Eve Webster
Michael Lumsden
Laurence Spellman
Chris Pavlo
Laurence Spellman
Michael Lumsden
Michael Lumsden
Chris Pavlo
Eve Webster
Eve Webster
Laurence Spellman
Chris Pavlo
Hugh Ross
Hugh Ross
Hugh Ross
Eve Webster
Other parts played by members of the cast
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

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

BONUS FEATURES

Production Notes Booklet (with CD only)

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Purchase from Big Finish

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Berkeley Mather
Adapted for audio by -
Rae Leaver
Recording
Toby Hrycek-Robinson 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

THE FRIGHTENERS DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This audio play is based on the television episode The Frighteners, which was originally broadcast on Saturday 27th May 1961 at 10.00pm in the ABC Midlands, ABC North, Anglia, ATV London, Southern, Television Wales and West, Tyne Tees, Ulster and Westward ITV regions.

  • In common with Girl on the Trapeze, a 16mm film recording of this episode exists (two copies of it, in fact), though the original 405-line videotape is long since lost. Also missing is any copy of the original script, in draft, rehearsal or camera script form. A dialogue script exists, but this was transcribed from the episode itself, decades after the fact in November 1997, possibly in preparation for a French transmission of The Frighteners (in English with French subtitles) on Thursday 8th January 1998 the first time that an episode from Series 1 was broadcast outside of the UK. Because only two episodes from Series 1 of The Avengers exist in complete form, Big Finish has elected to remake Girl on the Trapeze and The Frighteners alongside the missing episodes, in order to provide a complete collection of stories featuring Keel and Steed.

  • The audio adaptation of this episode was recorded at Moat Studios on 21st December 2015, 6th January and 12th February 2016. Three episodes were recorded during these sessions: The Frighteners, Death on the Slipway and Tunnel of Fear.


  • Brought to Audiobook... Relatively few changes were needed in order to make The Frighteners work in sound only - just a few additional lines to establish details such as the roles of certain characters, their actions and their locations. For example, Sir Thomas Weller's secretary introduces herself by mentioning that she has some files for her employer, and Keel notes the unusual rendezvous point that Steed has chosen for them: "A taxi, eh? You do like to vary our meeting spots." "I find it to be the spice of life," replies Steed, in another new line.

  • Telephone conversations that we previously heard only one side of, such as Weller to the Deacon in the opening scene, are now two-way, because to have a character apparently speaking to himself would seem odd on audio. Another call made by Weller, following his daughter's elopement near the end of the play, required a degree of invention on the part of adapter Rae Leaver, since it is less than clear who the man is talking to. In Leaver's interpretation, he is summoning his chauffeur. Another possibility would be that he is getting an officer of the court out of bed (see Bloopers, below).

  • Leaver has elected to retain a couple of notorious fluffed lines from the original television version of The Frighteners. "I want two answers to two facts," says Keel to the Deacon, when he was probably supposed to repeat an earlier line, "I want two answers to two questions," or go on to his next line, "I want the facts." Having both been tricked by Keel about their injuries, Moxon later says to the Deacon, "Well, come to that, what about your flipping neck?" This is despite the fact that it was Moxon who thought he had broken his neck, whereas the Deacon's earlier panic had been about his face. "And yer face?" adds Moxon, quickly correcting his own mistake.

  • One muttered line of speech from the original film recording has been omitted from the audio adaptation. When Keel confronts the knife-wielding Moxon in the surgery, the doctor's opening comment is interpreted in the 1997 dialogue script as, "Don't tell me, it's old (bucket ears) himself." The brackets indicate a level of uncertainty over what is said. It is possible that Keel is making reference to Socrates perhaps he is saying, "That strategy's older than Socrates himself," but it's very unclear, so your guess is as good as ours!


  • Trivia... Before Ian Hendry played Dr David Keel in The Avengers, he was Dr Geoffrey Brent in a much shorter-lived ABC series called Police Surgeon. An apparent in-joke reference to this programme occurs at the end of Act 1. When Steed asks Keel to take the unconscious Moxon to his surgery, the agent proposes that they "give the police surgeon a night off".

  • The act endings for this episode are unusually light-hearted. At the end of Act 1, Keel quips to Steed about getting de Willoughby and Moxon to his surgery before anyone else passes out. At the end of Act 2, there is a comical reaction from the Deacon as it dawns on him that he has been fooled by the escaping Keel. On audio, the latter incident requires explanatory dialogue as the Deacon realises, "That wasn't acid! Lost him!"

  • For the second time in this series, Keel uses a 'deadly needle' trick. In Brought to Book, he threatened the murderous Spicer with a supposedly lethal injection. In The Frighteners, he pretends that his syringe is filled with hydrochloric acid in order to bluff his way into and out of the Deacon's headquarters. In fact, the needle contains harmless witch hazel, an astringent used to treat sores, bruises and swelling.

  • When Jeremy de Willoughby advises Nigel to leave town, Nigel complains that it's the start of the (social) season and he doesn't want to miss out on courting the debs (debutantes). According to the peerage guide Debrett's, the traditional social season in London runs from April to August. The season was once defined by the movements of the British royal family, who were in residence in the capital from April to July and from October until Christmas. Though the traditional season, with its trappings of Court presentations, balls and parties, has now all but vanished, what remains is a well-loved round of events that are still regarded as highlights of the social calendar - including the Proms, the Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood, Henley Royal Regatta, Wimbledon and the Lord's Test Match.

  • Debrett's itself also gets a mention in The Frighteners. Steed is referring to Debrett's People of Today, an annual publication containing biographical details of Britain's most distinguished figures, when he cites evidence that de Willoughby has been selecting his scam victims from "just about every page in Debrett."

  • A couple of slang terms that were inaccurately transcribed in the 1997 dialogue script have been corrected in Rae Leaver's script. "He was gonna shift me perishing ear off with that slasher," protests Moxon in the dialogue script, a phrase that is then mimicked by Steed. Actually, the verb being used is "shiv", meaning a sharp implement or the act of causing injury with one. Later on in the dialogue script, Steed's street sweeper contact says to him, rather bizarrely, "Only the high tide, governor." This is not some secret password. In fact, the sweeper is using a derogatory term for an Italian, "eyetie", meaning that only Beppi is left in the shop. In the audio script, this line has been adjusted to the more politically correct, "Only the Italian, governor."


  • Bloopers... Unfortunately, Leaver has introduced a few errors of her own into her transcript. She mishears Nature Boy's reference to "minders" as "binders", resulting in the line, "But Deacon don't like clients to be laced up near to their own dumps, in case they got binders hanging around." When Marylin and Jeremy elope, Steed tells Sir Thomas, "In your position, a phone call could produce a tip start". In fact, the term should be "tipstaff", meaning an officer of a court. This is presumably the "official gent" to whom Sir Thomas subsequently refers.

  • A couple of unclear lines in the television recording have confused both transcribers. "He does clam up inside a police station," says Steed in the dialogue script, alluding to the criminal Moxon. "They'd just clear him up inside a police station," is how the line is interpreted in the Big Finish production. We believe that the line as originally delivered by Patrick Macnee was, "He'd just clam up inside a police station." In reference to his marriage scam, the dialogue script has de Willoughby telling Nigel, "I'll only let it not be squalid until after the honeymoon." On audio, the line becomes, "Murray, let's not be squalid until after the honeymoon," though who Murray is is not explained. Taking into account the fraudster's financial situation, we believe that the line should be, "Money? Let's not be squalid until after the honeymoon."


  • Stop Press... An interview feature entitled Sounds of the Sixties appeared in Vortex Issue 89 in July 2016 to coincide with the release of the sixth volume of The Avengers - The Lost Episodes. Adapter Rae Leaver comments upon The Frighteners: "It's a corker of a story with some genuinely nasty bits, which was good to get my teeth into. I really like the story of this one, the blackmail angle, and the levels of bluffing going on by all the involved parties. There's a lot to play with. It was certainly a lot more straightforward than Girl on the Trapeze too, as far as turning it into a story that works well on audio. And I got to play with Steed finally, after being very jealous of all the fun other people were having with him!"

    Read the rest of the interview by downloading Vortex Issue 89 from Big Finish


  • And Finally... Steed is shown to have an extensive network of contacts, informants and other helpers in this episode. These include a cab driver (in whose vehicle Steed has two meetings with Keel), a flower seller (who gives Steed his famous carnation for his buttonhole), a waiter at the restaurant La Provence, a bus conductor (who asks where he might be able to catch a bus to Wembley Park), a street sweeper and a pair of plain-clothes police officers (led by Inspector Charlie Foster). Clearly Keel is but one of Steed's allies, albeit an extremely effective one, which sets things up rather nicely for a time when Steed will be accompanied by talented amateurs other than Keel...

Plotline by Richard McGinlay Declassified by Richard McGinlay and Alan Hayes
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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