Production Number: Unknown

PLOTLINE

After nine years, Bert Brandon's prison term for espionage is at an end. A free man once more, he embarks upon a mission to recover important items that he hid in a well many years before – a bounty that could set him up for the rest of his life.

Poole and Roach, communist spies with designs on improving their lot, are aware of his bounty and pursue him, intending to wrest these ill-gotten gains from him for their own purposes. They intercept Brandon – somewhat fatally – in the middle of nowhere and proceed to dismantle his vehicle in an attempt to locate the loot. They find nothing as Brandon has re-hidden it – but Purdey, on their trail on a motorbike, finds them. She also finds that Poole and Roach are not gentleman – they fire at her and she is thrown from the bike. When she comes to, the killers are gone.

A vital clue arrives from the dead Brandon via the postman – a book entitled The Tale of the Big Y. But what does it mean? Purdey finally works it out and she and her fellow avengers head to Surrey. There, they have a close encounter with a light aircraft, are held at gunpoint by its pilot and end up in an edgy rendezvous with Poole and Roach in a desolate quarry. The purpose – to trade Brandon's hidden bounty for a hostage – Purdey!

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The New Avengers: Series 1, Episode 9
Production Completed:
Aug 1976
Recording Format: 35mm Colour Film
Archive Holding: 35mm Colour Film

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

Anglia: Tue 7 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
ATV Midlands: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Border: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Channel: Currently unconfirmed
Grampian: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Granada: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
HTV: Sun 27 Mar 1977, 7.25pm
Scottish: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Southern: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Thames: Tue 7 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Tyne Tees: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Ulster: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Westward: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Yorkshire: Fri 10 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
AUSTRALIA: Wed 23 Mar 1977
BELGIUM:
Wed 8 Dec 1976
CANADA:
Thu 5 May 1977
COLOMBIA:
Thu 11 Sep 1980
FRANCE:
Sat 29 Jan 1977
GREECE: Fri 17 Jun 1977
IRELAND:
Tue 16 Nov 1976
ITALY: Thu 27 Jul 1978
MALAYSIA: Thu 5 Jan 1978
MALTA: Mon 21 Mar 1978
NETHERLANDS: Thu 25 Nov 1976
SINGAPORE: Wed 24 Aug 1977
SWITZERLAND: Tue 29 Mar 1977
UNITED KINGDOM: Tue 7 Dec 1976
USA: Fri 2 Feb 1979
WEST GERMANY: Mon 26 Mar 1984
CHARACTERS & CAST
John Steed
Mike Gambit
Purdey
George Harmer
Irene Brandon
Bert Brandon
Frank Turner
Roach
Poole
Minister
Mrs Turner
Patrick Macnee
Gareth Hunt
Joanna Lumley
Derek Waring
Jenny Runacre
George A. Cooper
Roy Marsden
Gary Waldhorn
Rowland Davis
Geoffrey Toone
Maev Alexander
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

A suite comprised of music from the incidental score for this episode was re-recorded on 25th February 1980 and issued on the LP, Music from The New Avengers and The Professionals. It has subsequently been reissued on The Music of Laurie Johnson: The New Avengers, Edsel Records, 2009.

DVD EXTRAS

No episode-specific DVD extras available.

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 –
Robert Fuest

Editor – Eric Boyd-Perkins
Assistant Director – Roger Simons
Location Manager – Nicholas Gillott

Camera Operator –
Herbert Smith
Second Unit Lighting Cameraman –
Jimmy Allen B.S.C.
Second Unit Camera Operator – Malcolm Vinson
Sound Recordists –
Danny Daniel, Ken Barker

Dubbing Editor –
Peter Lennard, Mike Hopkins
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 – 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

Bland, uneven and dull, I find this by far the weakest entry in the 1976 series. The whole production lacks the distinctive edge I expect of The New Avengers. I've tried to appreciate it, but it feels too much like a halfway house between the old series and the new for me. Directorially, it's frequently sloppy and even the music is ponderous and anonymous – a rarity for the series. Were it not for the valiant effort of the regulars, a wonderful scene where Gambit takes Purdey out for a bite to eat and the memorable image of the Brandon's car cut to pieces in the field, there would be precious little to recommend in this one at all. One wonders if the Philip Broadley original would have been a better bet?

THE TALE OF THE BIG WHY • DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... The Tale of the Big Why is a heavily revised version by Brian Clemens of a rejected script by Philip Broadley entitled The Tale of the Double Cross.


  • On Location... Although the denouement of this story is set in Surrey, the production never got within spitting distance of the county. Location work took place in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire with the countryside of surrounding Bracknell and Wokingham doubling for Surrey. Who said the camera never lies? The prison building seen at the start of the episode is Her Majesty's Prison Aylesbury, in Bierton Road, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.


  • Bloopers... Firstly, when Brandon's car careers across the field, it hits a tree at the perimeter and then proceeds to overturn wildly. When it comes to rest a few edits later, it's back out in the field again, up the hill from the point of impact, despite this being a practical impossibility – unless the woodland glade is made of rubber plants!

  • Later, Poole and Roach are hidden in the undergrowth opposite the front entrance to Steed's country residence. They are spying on the Avengers with binoculars and monitoring their conversations via a long range microphone.
     
    (Shot A) Poole and Roach realise that someone is coming out of the house, so they down tools and are seen to quickly drop their heads to the ground. They lay flat to avoid detection...
     
    (Shot B) The action then cuts to a handheld point of view shot from the undergrowth which shows Purdey and Gambit emerging from the house. The camera pans to the right with them as they walk to the car...
     
    (Shot C) We then cut back to Poole and Roach, their heads still down. They raise them again as they hear the car being driven off.
     
    The point of view shot is completely misplaced as the characters' view would have been mud and grass! Giving director Robert Fuest the benefit of the doubt, perhaps the shot was intended to be from the point of view of an inquisitive squirrel!


  • In Print... This story was adapted for a French comic book, but was not one of those translated and reprinted in the UK.

  • The original Philip Broadley script, The Tale of the Double Cross was released in book form by The Morning After in 2012. Available to buy from Lulu – here.


  • And Finally... Purdey is back on her motorbike, complete with the series distinctive lion motif and her name on her back! Talk about not wanting to draw attention to yourself!

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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