Production Number: 3369 Tape Number: VTR/ABC/1113 (off-air)
Working Title: 'Kidnapping by Consent'

PLOTLINE

The department has sent Steed to the sunny Caribbean island of Pascala, to investigate the kidnapping of a beautiful young woman, Carmelita Mendoza. The agent questions the girl's mother, the family's retainer Vasco, and other members of the household staff, but learns nothing of interest. He is troubled by the apparent lack of motive for the disappearance. The family jewels were removed from the house at about the same time that Carmelita was taken, but Steed suspects a political motivation rather than a monetary one. Only a week earlier, General Mendoza the Senora's husband and Carmelita's father was reported dead under mysterious circumstances. Steed wonders whether the pro-Western politician's death really was an accident as claimed.

Some time later, Vasco is witnessed killing the kidnapper. However, rather than releasing Carmelita, the retainer proceeds to abduct the girl himself...

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 5
Production Completed:
Sat 4 Feb 1961 (Live)
Recording Format: 405 Line B/W Video
Archive Holding: DOES NOT EXIST
John Cura Tele-Snaps: Not Photographed
Reconstruction: Not currently possible
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
UNITED KINGDOM: Sat 4 Feb 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

ABC Midlands: Sat 4 Feb 1961, 10.00pm
ABC North: Sat 4 Feb 1961, 10.00pm
Anglia:
Not transmitted
ATV London: Not transmitted
Border:
Not transmitted
Grampian: Not transmitted
Scottish: Not transmitted
Southern: Not transmitted
TWW: Not transmitted
Tyne Tees:
Not transmitted
Ulster: Not transmitted
Westward: Not transmitted
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Senora Mendoza
Bartello
Carmelita Mendoza
Luis Alvarez
Paul
Fernandez
Vasco
Carlos (Policeman)
General Mendoza
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Patience Collier
Harold Kasket
Bandana Das Gupta
Nicholas Amer
Eric Thompson
Jack Rodney
Roger Delgado
George Roderick
Uncredited
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

None.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writers Geoffrey Bellman and John Whitney, based on a story by Patrick Brawn
Series Theme & Music
Johnny Dankworth
Designer
Alpho O'Reilly
Story Editor
Patrick Brawn
Producer
Leonard White
Director
John Knight

Other credits not available

Studio Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production

CRESCENT MOON DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This story was originally intended to be the sixth episode of The Avengers, preceded by The Radioactive Man and followed by Girl on the Trapeze, as noted in correspondence dated 23rd December 1960 from Leonard White to director Don Leaver. At that time, Crescent Moon was known by the working title Kidnapping by Consent, The Radioactive Man was hyphenated as The Radio-active Man and Girl on the Trapeze was referred to as The Man on the Trapeze. Ultimately, Crescent Moon and Girl on the Trapeze would be brought forward in the schedule, while The Radioactive Man fell back to become the eighth episode of the series. As a result of this rescheduling, Leaver ended up directing Girl on the Trapeze rather than Crescent Moon, which was instead directed by John Knight.

  • The first draft of Crescent Moon was expected to be delivered by Geoffrey Bellman and John Whitney in late December 1960.

  • Roger Delgado, who played Vasco, is nowadays best known for being the first actor to portray the villainous Master in Doctor Who. Prior to appearing in Crescent Moon, Delgado had worked extensively on the British stage, as well as on radio, television and film, including Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1956 epic, The Battle of the River Plate, which also featured Patrick Macnee. However, the role that would really bring Delgado to public attention followed a few months after Crescent Moon, when he played the duplicitous Spanish envoy in ITC's Sir Francis Drake (1961 to 1962). Coincidentally, his character in this series was named Mendoza, a surname which was also utilised in Crescent Moon. Delgado returned to The Avengers once more, to play Kreer in the film-era episode Stay Tuned, alongside his Crescent Moon co-star Harold Kasket. Delgado died tragically in Turkey in 1973 while filming the (never-completed) movie Bell of Tibet. He was killed, together with two Turkish film technicians, when the chauffeur-driven car in which he was travelling plummeted into a ravine.

  • Surviving evidence (synopses and production documentation) suggests that Crescent Moon was predominantly a Steed episode. Dr Keel seems to be involved in only a couple of scenes, and Ingrid Hafner's character, Carol Wilson, does not appear at all.

  • This was the third of seven consecutive episodes of The Avengers to be produced and transmitted live. Despite going out live, the episode was recorded, presumably off air. This is evidenced by a production memo detailing a proposed 1962 repeat run of Series 1 episodes. The document lists VTR numbers for all of the live episodes (Crescent Moon's VTR number is 1113), indicating that these recordings were in existence as at 30th March 1962.

  • On Monday 6th February 1961, two days after the live transmission of Crescent Moon, Leonard White issued an internal memo to directors Don Leaver, Peter Hammond and Robert Tronson and story editor John Bryce. The producer addressed the need to bring episodes in at their estimated timings: "At present an 'under-run' on transmission is a great embarrassment to our 'presentation'. Will you therefore make certain that timings are accurate at dry rehearsal. Also, in general, as we badly need all the pace we can get out these episodes, I suggest all scripts (and rehearsals) are better conceived as over length, rather than under. In our series, speed will generally help us but a slow, short episode will kill us."

  • Leonard White's memo also highlighted the difficulty that was being encountered in constucting sets in time for recording and suggested that "whilst Armchair Theatre is recorded on a Wednesday, the difficulty of getting a completed 'set' by 2.30pm on a Friday will continue. I do not think we should reduce the standard of our sets at all indeed, as we come to London, they should be even more exciting, but we should anticipate this problem and 'live' with it as far as we possibly can."


  • On Location... Despite the exotic setting of this episode, it was probably realised mostly if not entirely within the confines of the studio. It is not known whether any location work was carried out, and even if it were, it is unlikely that the production team strayed far from their London headquarters. It is almost certain, bearing in mind standard practices in television drama of the period, that some stock footage was utilised to establish the Caribbean setting.


  • Trivia... Numerous sources, including episode guides by Dave Rogers, indicate that the name of the kidnapped girl is spelled Carmelite. However, TV Times lists her as Carmelita, which does seem the more likely spelling. A Carmelite is a member of the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a Roman Catholic movement founded around the 12th century. Carmelita is a feminine given name in English and Spanish, named after the religious order.

  • The expanded synopsis provided by The Avengers Declassified for this episode contains a certain amount of guesswork. In particular, it is not known what roles the characters of Bartello, Luis Alvarez and Fernandez fulfilled in the story. However, by referring to the TV Times cast list in order of appearance, one can surmise that Bartello appears in an early scene, perhaps the same opening scene as Senora Mendoza and John Steed, so maybe he is a household servant. It is not known which of these characters, if any, is the kidnapper who is subsequently killed by Vasco. However, Alvarez's position in the cast list, between Carmelita (the kidnap victim) and Paul (the other man involved in the abduction), suggests that Alvarez could be the ill-fated kidnapper. That just leaves Fernandez. Several synopses state that Vasco is seen killing the kidnapper, but they do not indicate who the witness is perhaps it is Fernandez.

  • Some online synopses state that General Mendoza is a dictator. His rank and wealth, together with the island's Latin American location, do suggest a military dictatorship similar to Cuba during 1952 to 1959. Other synopses remain vague about the General's position. None of them address the issue of the power vacuum that would be left behind by the removal of such a leader, or the problem of how an audience is supposed to sympathise with a dictator, even a pro-Western one. Many synopses mention political motivations, so one can safely assume that Mendoza is a politician of some kind.

  • We do not know who tells Keel to expect his new patient. It could be Mendoza himself, or an unnamed associate of his. Given the doctor's telephone contact with Steed's superior '5' (Heron Carvic) in Square Root of Evil, it is even possible that '5' telephones Keel with the information, in an uncredited voice-only role similar to that played by Douglas Muir as One-Ten in Ashes of Roses.

  • In common with The Frighteners ten episodes later, the plot concerns a wealthy man's daughter, whose fate involves something of a tug of war between a father who 'wants what is best for her', but has a darned peculiar way of showing it, and another, even less scrupulous man.

  • Patrick Macnee fleetingly refers to Crescent Moon in his autobiography Blind in One Ear (1988). Discussing the various criminals that Steed and Keel pursued during Series 1, he recalls: "the suspects included seedy Spanish retainers". The retainer Vasco is probably not Spanish by birth, but Macnee may have associated the character with Delgado's subsequent and more famous role as the Spanish ambassador in Sir Francis Drake.

  • As with many other early episodes of The Avengers, Crescent Moon has been poorly served in terms of photographic records. No images are known to have survived from the production, and as such we have had no alternative other than to include a photograph from another source as the image at the top of the page. The photo is of actor Roger Delgado (Vasco) from another production, believed to be the 1958 film, Sea Fury, and is included for illustrative purposes only.


  • Stop Press... TV Times magazine ran a short item on Friday 3rd February 1961 concerning Ingrid Hafner, entitled A 'Nurse' Again, which highlighted the irony of her playing nurses in both The Avengers and Police Surgeon despite her hatred of illness. She also mentioned that her big interest was in finding a flat in London and moving up from her home in Somerset. "Living in London will mean giving up my pony, and will not leave me much time for any hobbies," she said.

  • Max North's Tele-review column on page 7 of the Manchester Evening News on 4th February 1961 had the following to say about Crescent Moon: "In tonight's episode of The Avengers, Ian Hendry and his comrades-in-arms against lawlessness go abroad for the first time to the Caribbean island of Pascala, where a politician's beautiful daughter has been kidnapped." In fact, only Patrick Macnee's character ventured abroad during this episode, while Dr Keel remained in London. However, this article does provide us with the name of the island visited by Steed, which is not stated in any of the surviving synopses for this episode.


  • And Finally... The relevance of this episode's title remains a mystery. To what does Crescent Moon actually refer? Could it be the name of a political party, either that represented by General Mendoza or that supported by his wife and Vasco? Could it be an informal name for the island, perhaps based on its shape? Unless new information comes to light about this episode, we may never know.

Plotline by Richard McGinlay UK Transmissions by Simon Coward, Alan Hayes and John Tomlinson
Declassified by Richard McGinlay with Alan Hayes

With thanks to Piers Johnson, Dave Matthews, Dave Rogers, Allen Dace, Jaz Wiseman
and StudioCanal for their kind assistance

 

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