It isn't often that a television series that has passed its fiftieth anniversary and has seen no new production in its original medium since its seventeenth year gets a whole new lease of life in another. In that respect, The Avengers has been fortunate. Such was the worldwide impact of the series that it remains in the public eye today, whether that be care of television repeats, home entertainment releases, events or homages to the series in advertising and the media. The Avengers has made an indelible mark upon our times and our culture.

The success of the television series was such that it inevitably led to several revivals over the years. The first of these projects saw The Avengers take to the stage in Birmingham and London in 1971 with Simon Oates taking over the mantle of John Steed from Patrick Macnee. Just over a year later, nearly half a world away in Johannesburg, South Africa, arguably the best remake of the series played for three years over the airwaves of the SABC's Springbok Radio, and starred Donald Monat and Diane Appleby as John Steed and Emma Peel. Since that time, we've seen the series return to considerable success in 1976 with The New Avengers and later, in 1998 as a Warner Bros feature film, to scathing reviews from film critics, filmgoers and afficionados alike that suggested that even though the film had its moments, The Avengers' time was seemingly well and truly past. Was it really possible to make a new adventure for John Steed and company that was contemporary, relevant to modern audiences and yet retained enough of the original elements to make it genuinely The Avengers?

I have to be honest that until very recently, my own answer to that question would have been that it was probably for the best to be grateful for what you have in the archives and on the DVD shelves and that any new production of The Avengers was probably doomed to failure. But now I have been convinced otherwise by a remarkable and imaginative project which cleverly takes something old The Avengers radio series plays with it and concocts something that is both faithful to the original series and yet has a modern, fresh twist.

Paul Farrer, under the moniker Fazz68 Productions, has been producing an unofficial, non-commercial cartoon series of The Avengers since Autumn 2012 using the free Muvizu animation software. The first serial to get the animation treatment was A Deadly Gift, which was produced under its television title The Cybernauts. With the radio series audio being used as its basis, it saw Donald Monat and Diane Appleby's memorable portrayals of John Steed and Emma Peel given a whole new lease of life in the 21st Century. The animations do not slavishly follow the radio versions and dispense with the services of Hugh Rouse's wry narrator, preferring instead to deliver the narrative visually and through dialogue, entirely sensible for a production of this type. Dialogue is sympathetically edited and the soundtracks are augmented with appropriate copyright-free library tracks.

Where the animations really succeed is in their introduction of little bits of visual business for the characters and in adding moments of humour that are entirely new. These add an extra dimension to the viewer's enjoyment of the stories and there are also nods and homages to other films and television series for the eagle-eyed (and sometimes even for the not so eagle-eyed!). Steed may be missing his trademark umbrella, but there is a very good reason. Keep an eye on this section for the story behind this and other production decisions...

This section of The Avengers Declassified is dedicated to Paul's animations and will grow to include news and background information about his productions, in addition to teasers, the actual episodes and unexpected bonuses. The Avengers is back. And it's joyous!

Feature by Alan Hayes Images Paul Farrer / Muvizu Reproduced with permission

With thanks to Muvizu for their kind assistance

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