Production Number: Unknown

PLOTLINE

A British agent, George Stannard, is on a mission investigating a monastery on the remote island of St. Dorca off the West Coast of Scotland. When he gets close to discovering their secret, he winds up dead at the hands of a gang of sinister fishermen who use poison-tipped fishing rods as their weapons of choice.

Purdey and John Steed learn of their colleague's tragic demise and begin to piece together the puzzle he has left behind.

Meanwhile, Gambit deputises for Stannard at a lecture on suspended animation given by Dr Maybach Von Claus, an expert in the field. While Gambit is otherwise engaged, Ralph lures Von Claus away and facilitates his kidnap. The doctor is taken to St Dorca, where the monks' leader, Father Trasker, asks him to treat a sick brother monk.

Gambit uncovers a clue that may link in with Stannard's mission – a plane carrying "Germany's greatest treasure" had crashed on St Dorca at the end of World War II – and this leads the three agents to the island.

Once arrived, Purdey finds the wreckage and Steed finds himself very much the odd one out at the monastery.

Behind its cold medieval walls, the St Dorca monastery hides the darkest of secrets. The monks within prove to be nowhere near as virtuous as their reputation would suggest and the fanatical Father Trasker is coercing the unwilling Dr Von Claus into reviving a hated war criminal thought to be long dead.

Can Steed, Purdey and Gambit prevent the birth of a new world order?

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The New Avengers: Series 1, Episode 1
Production Completed:
Apr 1976
Recording Format: 35mm Colour Film
Archive Holding: 35mm Colour Film

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

Anglia: Tue 19 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
ATV Midlands: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
Border: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
Channel: Currently unconfirmed
Grampian: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
Granada: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
HTV: Sun 17 Oct 1976, 7.50pm
Scottish: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
Southern: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
Thames: Tue 19 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
Tyne Tees: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
Ulster: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 7.30pm
Westward: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
Yorkshire: Fri 22 Oct 1976, 8.00pm
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
AUSTRALIA: Wed 9 Feb 1977
BELGIUM:
Wed 3 Nov 1976
CANADA:
Thu 3 Feb 1977
COLOMBIA:
Thu 2 Oct 1980
FRANCE:
Sat 22 Jan 1977
GERMANY: Sun 15 Sep 1991
GREECE:
Fri 15 Apr 1977
IRELAND: Tue 28 Sep 1976
ITALY: Fri 19 May 1978
MALAYSIA: Thu 3 Nov 1977
MALTA: Mon 31 Jan 1977
NETHERLANDS: Thu 28 Oct 1976
SINGAPORE: Wed 31 Aug 1977
SWITZERLAND: Sun 7 Dec 1976
UNITED KINGDOM: Sun 17 Oct 1976
USA: Tue 5 Sep 1978
CHARACTERS & CAST
John Steed
Mike Gambit
Purdey
Dr Maybach Von Claus
Father Trasker
Karl Bury
Hara
Brown-Fitch
Lady with Dog
Main
George Stannard
Jud
Barker
Gerda
Gunnar (Nazi Corporal)
Ralph
Molly (Barmaid)
Dowager
Man with Suitcase
Patrick Macnee
Gareth Hunt
Joanna Lumley
Peter Cushing
Derek Farr
Frank Gatliff
Sydney Bromley
Trevor Baxter
Joyce Carey
Neil Phillips
Brian Anthony
Ronald Forfar
Jerold Wells
Trudi Van Doorne
 
Peter Porteous
Charles Bolton
Sammie Winmill
Maggy Maxwell
Raymond Mason
STAND-INS & STUNTS
Ralph
Mike Gambit
Truck Driver
Guard
Roy Alon
Rocky Taylor
Alan Stuart
Eddie Stacey
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Not released.
DVD EXTRAS

StudioCanal, UK: Commentary with Gareth Hunt and Brian Clemens, hosted by Marcus Hearn. Recorded in September 2006.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer – Brian Clemens
Series Theme & Music –
Laurie Johnson
Production Designer –
Syd Cain
Lighting Cameraman –
Mike Reed B.S.C.
Producers – Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens
Director –
Desmond Davis

Editor – Ralph Sheldon
Assistant Director – Ron Purdie
Second Unit Assistant Director – Nicholas Gillott

Camera Operator –
Jimmy Devis
Second Unit Lighting Cameraman –
Jimmy Allen B.S.C.
Second Unit Camera Operator – Malcolm Vinson
Sound Recordists –
Denis Whitlock, Ken Barker
Dubbing Editors –
Peter Lennard, Bob Dearberg
Casting Director –
Maggie Cartier
Art Director –
Robert Bell
Set Dresser – Simon Wakefield

Joanna Lumley's Costume Design – Catherine Buckley
Hairdressing – Helene Bevan, Joyce James
Make-up – Neville Smallwood, Alan Boyle
Wardrobe Supervisor – Jackie Cummins
Continuity – Renιe Glynne
Second Unit Continuity –
Pat Rambaut
Post-Production Co-ordinator –
Paul Clay
Production Supervisor –
Ron Fry
Unit Manager – Robert Fennell
Construction Manager – Leon Davis

Processed by Rank Film Laboratories

Made at Pinewood Studios and on location

A Production of The Avengers (Film & TV) Enterprises Ltd
for TV Productions and I.D.T.V. Paris

MINISTRY VERDICT

A fine opener to the series which reintroduces John Steed well and quickly demonstrates the great promise of Purdey and Gambit. Desmond Davis' direction is breathless and magnificent and Laurie Johnson's staccato score is a terrific statement of intent. The 'nazis in hiding' plot is well-worn, but the execution is near perfect. The Avengers are back, brasher than ever and, as such, all is right with the world.

THE EAGLE'S NEST • DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This was the pilot episode of The New Avengers and was mainly filmed on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

  • Trudi Van Doorne had been shortlisted to play Purdey (at that point called Charly). She later changed her name to Geraldine Gardner and her later credits are under that name. Tragically, she died of hypothermia on a beach in February 1987 aged just 37.

  • Purdey's bob haircut came about after the actress visited hairdresser John Frieda without telling the producers. The result caused a sensation, as millions attempted to replicate her look. TV Times magazine even held a lookalike competition. For the second series, the style was modified.

  • The stunt sequence involving Gambit – in a Citroen DS21 Pallas car – chasing the truck carrying the kidnapped von Claus was performed by Rocky Taylor (doubling for Gambit), Alan Stuart (driving the truck) and Roy Alon (doubling for Ralph). Roy Alon later recalled how he came to be involved: "In 1976 I got a phone call from Andy Armstrong to work at Pinewood Studios on The New Avengers. The job involved diving head first from a speeding truck, which was driven by Alan Stuart. Rocky Taylor, doubling for the hero, was driving the car chasing us and Eddie Stacey was jumping out of the way. I had a really great time... The reason I got that job was they'd opened the stuntbook with all our photographs in it, and I looked like the actor [Charles Bolton], so it was a bit of luck."

  • The pool of stunt people who worked on The New Avengers were: Roy Alon, Andy Armstrong, Marc Boyle, Peter Grace, Wendy Leech, Colin Skeaping, Eddie Stacey, Alan Stuart and Rocky Taylor.


  • On Location... The main location – Eilean Donan Castle – appears in the films Highlander (1986) and The World Is Not Enough (1999). In the James Bond film, it appears as Castle Thane, the Headquarters of MI6.

  • The scene of Von Claus' lecture and kidnap was, in reality, Stoke Poges Golf Course near Slough in Berkshire. Famously, this was previously a filming location for the James Bond film, Goldfinger (1964).


  • Trivia... Steed enters emerging from his yellow Rover 3500 SD1 hatchback (having untidily whacked the kerb when parking!). His bowler hat is now a radio transmitter, though is still lined with chainmail!

  • Purdey's emerald green leotard makes its only appearance. Joanna Lumley disliked it intensely and called it 'the green slime'.

  • The Colonel Bogey March was written by Lieutenant F.J. Ricketts in 1914 and became hugely popular. Its use in this episode is a humourous reference to an unofficial British World War II lyric, well-known even today, which claims that "Hitler has only got one ball – the other is in the Albert Hall". The tune was also used (as here, without the lyric) to great effect in the film The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957).

  • The broadcast of The Eagle's Nest in Ireland on Tuesday 28th September 1976 at 8.00pm was billed by the Irish press as the "world premiere" of the new series. We have not found an international broadcaster that took The New Avengers earlier (and the domestic British transmission was nearly three weeks later), so it looks like this bold claim was absolutely truthful!

  • The first transmission of The Eagle's Nest was affected by a violent thunder storm which caused a failure of the Moel-y-Parc transmitter on Sunday 17th October 1977. This meant that viewers in West Wales were unable to see the episode on that evening, although the remainder of the HTV area was not affected by this outage. West Wales viewers finally had a chance to see The Eagle's Nest on Sunday 5th April 1981.


  • Stop Press... On 8th October 1976, The Connacht Tribune published a review by Harry Casey of the Irish world premiere of The Eagle's Nest. It was less than complimentary: "A first look at The New Avengers last week certainly led me to believe that the new series is going to be far worse than the old Avengers. Having discovered that Hitler was still knocking around in its first programme, I just dread to think what astonishing revelations await us in subsequent helpings. Steed (Patrick Macnee) is still the inimitable Steed, but Joanna Lumley just isn't Diana Rigg, no matter how tantalisingly sexy she tries hard to be. We'll give it another week or so. Disappointing."


  • Bloopers... Trevor Baxter's character, Brown-Fitch has his name mispelt as Brown-Fitcth in the end credit sequence.


  • In Print... This episode and The Midas Touch were novelised together as The Eagle's Nest by John Carter, the second novel in the series. This book appeared in Britain in two editions, a paperback from Futura Publications published in December 1976 and a hardcover from Arthur Barker issued on 2nd March 1977, and in paperback in the USA from Berkeley Medallion in 1978.

Plotline by Alan Hayes • UK Transmissions by Simon Coward and Alan Hayes
International Premieres by Denis Kirsanov • Ministry Verdict by Alan Hayes
Declassified by Gareth Humphreys and Alan Hayes with Denis Kirsanov

 

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