Production Code: BFPAVENGE006

PLOTLINE

John Steed is instructed by One-Ten to investigate the death of a fellow agent who has been killed while working undercover at a government dockyard. A nuclear submarine is under construction on the premises and Steed's superiors have reason to believe that a hostile foreign power has been able to infiltrate the facility. Their purpose is almost certainly to steal secret plans of the vessel's revolutionary nuclear reactor that are stored at the location.

The murderer a foreign spy called Kolchek is posing as a labourer at the docks and recognises the newly-arrived Steed as an old foe. He realises Steed can expose him, so moves his plans forward and plots to deal with the British agent.

Kolchek is blackmailing Charles Fleming, the personnel manager at the docks, and forces him to take a briefcase containing a bomb on board the nuclear submarine during a tour of inspection.

Steed has indeed recognised Kolchek and has engaged the help of Liz Wells, Fleming's secretary. The police are also on hand, although Steed finds their assistance something of a contradiction in terms for the most part... Between them, Steed and the others must find Kolchek and the hidden briefcase before a violent explosion rips through the docks and half of London...

Click here to read about the original television episode

PRODUCTION
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes:
Volume 6, Episode 2
Recording Dates:
21 Dec 2015, 6 Jan,
12 Feb 2016
Recorded at: Moat Studios
Duration: 51 minutes 44 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
One-Ten
Kolchek
Inspector Georgeson
Sir William Bonner
Liz Wells
Charles Fleming
Lord Chandler
Sam Pearson
Geordie Wilson
Jardine
Pardoe
PC Butterworth
PC Geary
Jack
Anthony Howell
Julian Wadham
Dan Starkey
Ferdy Roberts
Ferdy Roberts
Jon Culshaw
Niky Wardley
Dan Starkey
Dan Starkey
Barnaby Edwards
Jon Culshaw
Barnaby Edwards
Jon Culshaw
Jon Culshaw
Barnaby Edwards
Dan Starkey
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)

BUY NOW!

Purchase from Big Finish

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer James Mitchell
Adapted for audio by -
Ian Potter
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

DEATH ON THE SLIPWAY DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This audio play is based on the television episode Death on the Slipway, which was originally broadcast on Saturday 24th June 1961 at 8.50pm in the ABC Midlands, ABC North, Anglia, ATV London, Scottish, Southern, Television Wales and West, Tyne Tees, Ulster and Westward ITV regions.

  • The television version of Death on the Slipway does not survive today. Nor does the original script written by James Mitchell. However, storyline synopses exist, along with two production photographs and 87 of John Cura's off-screen Tele-Snaps.

  • 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... This is the first of The Lost Episodes to really benefit from photographic records in particular the Tele-Snaps, off-screen stills taken by the freelance photographer John Cura at the time of transmission which add considerable detail to what can be gleaned from synopses alone in the absence of the original script. For instance, the opening sequence involving Kolchek, Fleming, an ill-fated secret service man (here named Jardine) and the death on the slipway itself is not present at all in the synopsis published in Dave Rogers' guidebook The Complete Avengers, and has been extrapolated entirely from the images.

  • The surgery scenes at either end of this episode are also drawn solely from the Tele-Snaps. The stills show Keel and Steed, with the former presumably on duty during practice hours the doctor is visited by an old man, who appears to be a patient. The final scene, featuring Keel, an exhausted Steed and Steed's dog Puppy, is captured in a single Tele-Snap, and Puppy's presence here has inspired Ian Potter, who developed the audio script, to deduce that the dog was also in the earlier scene.

  • A production photograph depicting Steed on the telephone in one of the dockyard offices with Puppy at his side suggests that the dog accompanied him during at least one of his visits to the facility. However, Puppy cannot be seen in any of the Tele-Snaps of the dockyard scenes, so perhaps the photograph does not represent a scene from the story. In Potter's version of events, Steed leaves Puppy in the (reluctant) care of Dr Keel.

  • The synopsis in The Complete Avengers states that Kolchek "arranges an accident" for Steed, but does not elaborate as to its nature. One of the Tele-Snaps helps to plug this gap in the narrative, showing Kolchek on a gantry about to drop an oil drum on the unsuspecting Steed.

  • According to the same synopsis, Steed finds Liz Wells snooping in his hotel room when he returns to it following the incident with the oil drum. However, Tele-Snaps indicate that Steed has changed out of his dirty clothes by this time, so he must have got there first. Potter gives us the best of both worlds, by having Steed enter his hotel bedroom from the adjoining bathroom and so discovering Liz.

  • The Complete Avengers claims that Steed rushes to confront Fleming with the bomb as evidence, which sounds quite ridiculous because the later explosion proves that the device has not been defused. Tele-Snaps reveal that Steed and Fleming's confrontation takes place on the slipway.

  • Even with synopses and images to refer to, there were still several blanks that needed to be filled in. For example, Potter noticed that the Tele-Snaps of the opening scene show Kolchek breaking into a safe but if the villain acquired the top-secret plans at this point in the narrative, why should he remain on the scene for the rest of the episode? Potter hit upon the idea of having Kolchek photograph the plans rather than remove them physically (a tactic also used by James Mitchell's popular creation David Callan), only for the camera to be destroyed during the ensuing fight with Jardine.


  • Trivia... This is something of a Steed-centric episode. Keel appears at the beginning and end of Death on the Slipway, but otherwise makes no real contribution to the story. In fact, writer James Mitchell never really got the chance to tackle the character of Keel, since the doctor's appearance in Mitchell's other Series 1 episode, Kill the King, was similarly brief. The reason for Keel's absence on this occasion may be because Ian Hendry had requested a holiday, as a production memo dated 17th May 1961 indicates. (Hendry had actually asked for a week during rehearsals for the next recorded television episode, Double Danger, but since Keel plays a prominent role in that episode but not in Death on the Slipway, it would appear that a compromise was reached.)

  • It is not clear what roles Pearson and Chandler play at the dockyard, though Pearson's interaction with other characters in the photographs suggests that he is a middle-manager. Meanwhile, Chandler's mature looks and somewhat refined attire have led Potter to conclude that he is Lord Chandler, an admiralty bigwig.

  • Though central to the plot, the revolutionary nuclear submarine is not named in synopses. Potter has elected to christen it the Bowhead, perhaps after the large whale of the same name.


  • Bloopers... Though named as Geordie Wilson in cast lists for the original television episode (and on the back of the Big Finish CD), the character's surname is repeatedly given as Watson in the audio production.


  • 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 Ian Potter details the lengths he went to to get an authentic feel for this James Mitchell story: "Death on the Slipway is quite an interesting story in that we have only a tiny synopsis but lots of other clues. We have all the John Cura Tele-Snaps which I found were a useful spine in developing a full story working out what the locations were, who was where when (occasionally tricky) and giving me specific emotional beats to hit. I actually wrote the script with the Tele-Snaps embedded in so I knew exactly where I was up to with them in every scene. I was quite keen to make the story reflect the kind of work the author James Mitchell was doing around that time. So in preparation I watched his other Avengers episodes (or listened in the case of Kill the King), a surviving Armchair Theatre by him, binged on his series Callan and When the Boat Comes In, and read one of his novels A Way Back which seems to share a tiny bit of DNA with Death on the Slipway. This gave me, I hope, a bit of a feel for his sensibilities, a few names for characters like the non-speaking agent we meet in the first scenes and an absolute certainty he'd have put the shipyard in his story in the North East of England."

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


  • And Finally... The plot of Death on the Slipway bears comparison to James Mitchell's earliest television play, Flight from Treason, a 1960 episode of the ABC anthology series Armchair Mystery Theatre, which was based on one of the writer's own novels, a spy thriller entitled A Way Back. The episode coincidentally starred Ian Hendry and concerned a man who is blackmailed by an enemy power into helping to steal blueprints for a new bomb that is being constructed at his place of work, in this case a Tyneside foundry. Ian Potter took inspiration from A Way Back while fleshing out Fleming's background and the blackmail aspect of Death on the Slipway, as he reveals in an interview included in this box set. Other familiar Mitchell tropes in Death on the Slipway include safe-cracking, a crisis of conscience and a secretary called Liz (all of which were recurring elements in Callan) and a dockyard (When the Boat Comes In), while the inclusion of a fitter named Geordie is probably a nod to the writer's Tyneside roots.

Plotline by Alan Hayes 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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