Production Number: Unknown

PLOTLINE

A series of agents about to go on leave die, seemingly of natural causes. One of them, Dick Palmer, even telephones John Steed to let him know that he is a dead man and that their colleague, George Myers is the next target. This prediction proves chillingly accurate as shortly after a session on the department firing range where the targets shoot back Myers goes on leave, collapses and dies. Steed, Purdey and Gambit are with him, helpless to save him.

Steed suspects foul play and has Dr Kendrick make a succession of autopsies. He finds tiny pin-prick sized wounds on each corpse, but there is nothing in their blood streams to suggest anything other than natural deaths. Steed follows a hunch and visits Professor Lopez, an expert in South American poisons. Lopez not only confirms Steed's suspicions that the agents are being killed with a curare derivative, but also becomes the next victim.

The stakes rise for Steed and Gambit when Purdey falls gravely ill after scoring 99% on the firing range. They rush her to the range to obtain the antidote, but Steed is poisoned en route and only his strength of will can see him through. Draker, the scheme's gruesome mastermind seems to hold all the cards. Gambit cannot afford to take a single hit as he tackles the range with the lives of Purdey and Steed in the balance...

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The New Avengers: Series 1, Episode 7
Production Completed:
Jul 1976
Recording Format: 35mm Colour Film
Archive Holding: 35mm Colour Film

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

Anglia: Tue 23 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
ATV Midlands: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Border: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Channel: Currently unconfirmed
Grampian: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Granada: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
HTV: Sun 7 Nov 1976, 7.50pm
Scottish: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Southern: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Thames: Tue 23 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Tyne Tees: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Ulster: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Westward: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Yorkshire: Fri 26 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
AUSTRALIA: Wed 2 Mar 1977
CANADA:
Thu 10 Feb 1977
FRANCE:
Thu 23 Dec 1976
GREECE: Fri 27 May 1977
IRELAND: Tue 9 Nov 1976
ITALY: Thu 8 Jun 1978
MALAYSIA: Thu 22 Dec 1977
MALTA: Mon 18 Apr 1977
NETHERLANDS: Thu 30 Dec 1976
SINGAPORE: Wed 10 Aug 1977
SPAIN: Sun 9 Aug 1981
SWITZERLAND: Tue 21 Mar 1977
TURKEY: Sun 1 Nov 1981
UNITED KINGDOM: Sun 7 Nov 1976
USA: Tue 12 Sep 1978
WEST GERMANY: Thu 20 Apr 1978
CHARACTERS & CAST
John Steed
Mike Gambit
Purdey
Draker
Colonel Ilenko
Fred Bradshaw
Jones
George Myers
Klokoe
Dr Kendrick
Professor Lopez
Talmadge
Dick Palmer
Nurse
Titherbridge
Potterton
McKay
Morgue Attendant
Patrick Macnee
Gareth Hunt
Joanna Lumley
Keith Barron
Robert Beatty
Roy Boyd
Frederick Jaeger
Malcom Stoddard
Deep Roy
John Paul
Bruce Purchase
Dennis Blanch
Robert Tayman
Susannah MacMillan
John Saunders
Peter Brace
Marc Boyle
William Lyon Brown
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

No episode-specific DVD extras available.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Dennis Spooner
Series Theme & Music
Laurie Johnson
Production Designer
Syd Cain
Director of Photography
Jimmy Allen B.S.C.
Producers Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens
Director
Ray Austin

Editor Ralph Sheldon
Assistant Director Roger Simons
Location Manager Nicholas Gillott

Camera Operator
Malcolm Vinson
Sound Recordists
Danny Daniel, Ken Barker

Dubbing Editor
Peter Lennard
Casting Director
Maggie Cartier
Art Director
Robert Bell
Set Dresser Simon Wakefield

Hairdressing Supervisor Helene Bevan
Assistant Hairdresser Joyce James
Make-up Alan Boyle, Alan Brownie
Wardrobe Supervisor Jackie Cummins

Fight Arranger Cyd Child
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 stand-out episode of The New Avengers at least in terms of its enduring legacy, but despite a high death count and a cold, callous villain, it somehow still seems a little bit unsatisfying. Like a Chinese meal, you lap it up while it's on, but you feel like another one half an hour later. Keith Barron's Draker is cold to the point of disinterested, which can be taken two ways either it was a superb psychological study or he was comatose... The other issue is that our heroes seem to be overlooking the obvious this week. Despite this, Gareth Hunt and Joanna Lumley score very highly in this one and the location is both well chosen and superbly dressed.

TARGET! DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This story developed from an idea where Steed would receive a telephone call from a man who says that's he's already dead.

  • Selected as part of Ray Austin's directorial showreel, this episode inspired the opening post-credits sequence of the 1998 Warner Brothers film, The Avengers.

  • In a break from the norm, this episode was filmed by the second unit crew alone, with regular Second Unit Lighting Cameraman Jimmy Allen being promoted to Director of Photography.

  • Persistent bad weather severely cut back Frederick Jaeger's screen-time in the episode. He was hired to play the part of Bradshaw, but sat around at the filming location for well over a week in pouring rain. Since his contract limited him to a maximum of two weeks work on The New Avengers, his role was passed to Roy Boyd and Spooner performed a rewrite to include a single scene for Jaeger, as a new character, Jones. Brian Clemens spoke philosophically about the problem in the 20-26 November 1976 edition of TV Times magazine: "Circumstances beyond our control. Sometimes you can't beat the English weather!"


  • On Location... The firing range location was the derelict Pinewood Sanatorium, some fifteen miles from Pinewood Studios and not associated with the film company. The buildings have all since been demolished. The derelict nature of the property was a particular advantage to the crew, as they had complete freedom to alter it or even damage it to their requirements.


  • Trivia... Gareth Hunt later recalled that the explosives used to destroy the Police Box were a little too powerful, blowing him off his feet and blackening his face! The destruction of the Police Box was undoubtedly a case of the production team having a dig at rival BBC series, Doctor Who a show which Dennis Spooner had written and script-edited for between 1964 and 1966 and which shared a common instigator in Sydney Newman. The Police Box prop was highly likely to have been one constructed for the mid-Sixties Amicus Doctor Who films starring Peter Cushing.

  • Watch out for a final glimpse of Purdey's suspenders. Joanna Lumley was hardly a fan of this much-hyped aspect of her character. At the press launch for the series at The Dorchester Hotel, she persuaded a lady to borrow her suspenders for the photo session!

  • This episode provided the basic scenario that the popular The New Avengers Shooting Game from Denys Fisher was based upon.


  • And Finally... Dr Kendrick gives his report to Steed regarding the tiny wounds he has found on the corpses. None of the incidences match the evidence of the firing range. For instance,  we see George Myers take three shots to the back, whereas Kendrick finds three wounds on his left arm, just below the shoulder; we see Talmadge take two shots in the chest and another square in the centre of the forehead and yet Kendrick finds four wounds on his left arm! Perhaps this is a good time to wheel out Dr McCoy's famous retort, "I'm a doctor, not a vet!" but in reverse! Perhaps actor John Paul should have stuck to Doomwatch!

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

 

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