Production Number: 3372 Tape Number: VTR/ABC/1156 (off-air)
Working Title: 'The Radio-active Man'

PLOTLINE

Marko Ogrin, an immigrant cleaner at the Whitman Research Laboratory, inadvertently becomes the centre of a national emergency when he picks up a lead pellet on a nylon cord from the floor of one of the labs. He believes it may make a nice present for his landlady's son, who has an interest in fishing, but in reality it is a radioactive radium isotope. Ten hours' exposure to the radiation will be enough to kill him and anyone he comes into direct contact with.

Steed and Keel are called in by a scientist at the establishment and a manhunt is organised. At that moment, Marko is meeting with fellow ex-patriates unaware of their plans to set a bomb on a freight train. After the explosion, they intend to use the incident to raise public awareness of the inequalities and troubles of their home country. Marko disagrees strongly with their plans and is warned by Milan Radosevick that unless he co-operates, he threatens to report Marko to the police for coming into Britain under a forged passport.

Keel, in tandem with the police, has to track down a man who thinks he is being hunted down as an illegal immigrant a man who is desperate not to be caught and who fears being repatriated to a country where he faces imprisonment. Marko is unaware that the clock is ticking down on the last moments of his existence and his only hope of salvation is in the hands of those from whom he is running.

 

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 8
Production Completed:
Sat 25 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 25 Feb 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

ABC Midlands: Sat 25 Feb 1961, 10.00pm
ABC North: Sat 25 Feb 1961, 10.00pm
Anglia:
Sat 25 Feb 1961, 10.00pm
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
Carol Wilson
Dr Graham
Marko Ogrin
Campbell
Mary Somers
Milan Radosevick
Frane
Inica
Dora Radosevick
Peter Somers
Inspector Tudor
Sergeant Reynolds
1st Police Constable
2nd Police Constable
3rd Police Constable
Flynn (Cafe Owner)
Extras as Police and
Laboratory Assistants
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Ingrid Hafner
Arthur Lawrence (*)
George Pravda
Blaise Wyndham
Christine Pollon
Barry Shawzin
Mira Tomek
Madeleine Kasket
Marie Devereux
Dane Howell
Basil Beale
Uncredited
John Gayford
Paul Grist
John Kelland
Uncredited
5 Male and 2 Female
 

(*) Gerald Sim was originally cast as Dr Graham but was replaced by Arthur Lawrence during the rehearsal period.

ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

None.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Fred Edge, adapted by Patrick Brawn
Series Theme & Music
Johnny Dankworth
Designer
Alpho O'Reilly
Story Editor
John Bryce
Producer
Leonard White
Director
Robert Tronson

Production Assistant Sylvia Langdon-Down
Floor Manager Peter Bailey
Stage Manager Barbara Sykes
Lighting Director Peter Kew
Technical Supervisor Peter Wayne
Senior Cameraman Michael Baldock
Sound Supervisor Peter Cazaly

Other credits not available

Studio Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production

THE RADIOACTIVE MAN DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief...
    This Avengers episode was an adaptation by Patrick Brawn of an earlier script by Fred Edge (also called The Radioactive Man) which he had written for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's General Motors Theater play series. Brawn's adaptation would be uncredited and is revealed only in production documentation. Keel and Steed's characters appear to have been fanned out from a single character in the original script that of 'Shore' (played by Cec Linder, who would later portray James Bond's CIA contact Felix Leiter in Goldfinger (1964) opposite Sean Connery) as all other listed characters have an equivalent in The Avengers version. The character 'Todor' would seem most likely to have been anglicised to 'Tudor' in the revised script.
     
    The General Motors Theater play was transmitted on CBC on Tuesday 14th January 1958. It was recorded and subsequently sold to the British Broadcasting Corporation as part of a package of CBC television plays. BBC Television transmitted this earlier version of The Radioactive Man as part of their irregular Canadian Television Theatre strand on Wednesday 28th January 1959 between 9.10pm and 10.00pm that evening. As can be seen from the Radio Times magazine listings entry, there was a significant crossover in character names and the plot outline is very familiar. (With thanks to Mike Noon and Andrew Pixley.)

  • The part of Dr Graham was originally to have been played by Gerald Sim, but he was replaced for an undetermined reason close to the recording date with actor Arthur Lawrence. Sim would later chalk up five roles in The Avengers and The New Avengers, appearing in Mission to Montreal, The Wringer, Dial A Deadly Number, The Rotters and The Lion and the Unicorn. Last minute casting changes also occurred in three other Series 1 episodes, Square Root of Evil (in which John Woodvine replaced Michael Robbins), Girl on the Trapeze (in which Mia Karam replaced Nadja Regin) and Tunnel of Fear (in which Anthony Bate replaced Murray Hayne).

  • An internal ABC Television memo of 23rd December 1960 revealed that this episode, originally referred to as The Radio-active Man, was at that point intended to be the fifth episode to be transmitted. When it was moved back in the schedule to eighth, this caused a handover between story editors, with John Bryce taking over the responsibility for the episode from Patrick Brawn. Whether this involved Bryce taking over the actual adaptation is unclear. The memo also described the episode as "a 'shared' episode" for the two leads, whereas in fact it became predominantly a vehicle for Ian Hendry's Dr Keel.

  • Camera rehearsals for this episode commenced at 2.30pm in Studio 2 at ABC TV Studios, Broom Road, Teddington in Middlesex on Friday 24th February 1961. The session broke at 9.00pm and the actors and crew reconvened at 10.00am the next day, Saturday 25th February 1961, working towards a Dress Rehearsal between 8.00 and 9.30pm with the episode being performed and transmitted live between 10.03 and 11.00pm.

  • The Radioactive Man had a target running time of 52 minutes and 30 seconds. With commercial breaks one of 2 minutes and 5s and and another of 2 minutes and 35 seconds the full duration was planned at 57 minutes and 10 seconds, in common with most episodes produced early in Series 1.

  • The police announcement heard over the police car radio and the later national radio announcement were both pre-recorded and played in from grams.

  • The production involved the use of four pedestal cameras, three boom microphones, one slung microphone, one stand microphone, grams for playing in of sound, a working intercom system and a tape player among other equipment.

  • This episode was one of seven Series 1 episodes that was produced and transmitted live. Popular wisdom has long suggested that this meant these episodes were never recorded, but my own research has proved this to be an outright fallacy. The camera scripts that are known to survive for the live episodes (1/3 Square Root of Evil; 1/6 Girl on the Trapeze; 1/8 The Radioactive Man and 1/9 Ashes of Roses) all state VTR numbers and note that recordings were to have been made from transmission. Additionally, a production memo detailing a proposed 1962 repeat run of Series 1 episodes has been found by The Avengers Declassified and this states VTR numbers for all the live episodes and these recordings certainly existed as at March 1962.


  • On Location... Despite this episode being transmitted live, it featured six 35mm film inserts with optical sound which were played into the action. These were of a train in railway sidings; Dora (Marie Devereux) passing a police car outside Mary Somers' house in NW1; Marko (George Pravda) approaching the Somers' house and ducking back into the darkness when he spots the police car parked outside; Marko walking down an alleyway and entering a telephone box; Marko exiting the telephone box and leaving the alley; and a montage of police cars patrolling.

  • Location work for this episode was shot on high resolution 35mm black-and-white film, with each sequence featuring 'comopt' (composite optical) soundtracks. The common practice at the time for live and "as live" videotaped programmes was for these inserts to be mute, with music and effects played in from grams. Director Robert Tronson's decision to record direct sound on location could possibly have been arrived at for practical reasons, for dialogue requirements, or was simply his personal operational preference.


  • Trivia... The name of the home country of Marko and his fellow refugees is pointedly not mentioned in the script, with it being referred to as "the home country" or "the old country". However, the police announcement notes that Marko Ogrin "speaks with a strong Slav accent", implying that the country in question was in fact Yugoslavia, then under the Communist Regime of Marshal Tito.

  • Milan Radosevick's original bomb plot is quickly forgotten when Marko's predicament becomes apparent. One wonders if at the end of the episode, Milan still felt inclined to carry out his threat?

  • As an aside to the mention above about the earlier Canadian television version of The Radioactive Man, it is interesting to note that during the 1961-62 Actors' Equity Strike that came to affect production of The Avengers and other ITV dramas over a five month period, many Canadian television plays were bought in to fill the gaps in the ITV drama schedule. They aired in the UK under the collective title, Playdate.

  • The character of Mary Somers is referred to as 'Mary Sommers' at various points in the script. The script's cast list and the TV Times listing have the spelling as 'Somers'.

  • The cast list at the front of the camera script gives the characters Frane and Inica additional names in parentheses, 'Zvone' and 'Janez' respectively, names that are never used within the actual script. Rather than surnames, these appear to be references by story editor Patrick Brawn to indicate how these characters were originally named in Fred Edge's General Motors Theater script.

  • Graham and Keel telling young Peter to "go along with this gentleman" to "have a bath" reads somewhat differently in this day and age. Keel tells Peter, "you'll enjoy this one. We're going to have one too." Graham adds, "You won't have had one like this one before," all of which would sound decidedly dodgy in a present-day script!

  • The photograph which appears on page 16 of Dave Rogers' 1983 book The Avengers was incorrectly attributed to this episode. At this point, it is not clear which episode it actually hails from. There are no images known to exist from this episode. The photograph of George Pravda at the top of this page is for illustration purposes only and is taken from Specialist for the Kill, an episode of the ITC film series, Man of the World (1962).

  • Likewise, there is little evidence in the camera script to support the suggestion in the synopsis in Dave Rogers' The Complete Avengers (1989) that Milan was a people smuggler who had those leaving Britain via his service murdered for their money. One suspects that Rogers had access to a wildly inaccurate ABC synopsis several of which are distinctly unreliable.


  • Bloopers... There are some signs of haste in the script, suggesting that Fred Edge's contribution may have been speedily pressed into service by script editor Patrick Brawn, who adapted the work for The Avengers. Typos include at least two instances of the misspelling "raduim". Let us hope that the actors pronounced it right on the night!

  • In the episode, Keel confirms Steed's recollection that Dr Graham had been one of Keel's teachers at medical school and says that they are still very good friends. If this were the case, one wonders why when the two men get together, Keel calls him 'sir' rather than by his first name or surname. A sign of the times or a slip by the scriptwriter?


  • Stop Press... A letter commending the series and Ian Hendry for his portrayal of Dr David Keel was printed in TV Times magazine on Friday 24th February 1961: "Many thanks for The Avengers. Each film is first-class entertainment and a welcome change from conventional crime stories. Thanks also to Ian Hendry, who as Dr Keel makes the part come to life," wrote Mrs L. Kirk of Newthorpe, Nottinghamshire.


  • And Finally... A bit of a blooper perhaps, unless we don't think of The Avengers as running in something approaching real time. Near the start of the episode, Keel and Carol are discussing holidays and Keel recalls that Carol took a week off in September. With this episode airing in February, we can assume that the events are set contemporary with that time of transmission (certainly later on, Toy Trap is transmitted and set in July 1961). If so, Carol's holiday in September would have been approximately three months before she started working at Keel's surgery...

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

With thanks to Piers Johnson, Denis Kirsanov, Mike Noon, Andrew Pixley,
Jaz Wiseman and StudioCanal for their kind assistance

 

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