Production Code: BFPAVENGE001

PLOTLINE

David Keel, a general practitioner in Chelsea, a well-to-do suburb of London, is shortly to marry the pretty, young receptionist who works at his surgery, Peggy Stevens. However, an unopened package which contains more than half a pound of heroin has been delivered in error to the surgery. The drug racketeers who delivered it quickly realise their mistake and attempt to retrieve the package. One of their men, a tough nut named Spicer, is despatched to break in after surgery hours. Fearing that the receptionist who took the delivery would remember Johnson, the courier, the gang's paymaster orders her murder. The job falls to Spicer and he carries out the assassination without feeling or regret. Peggy dies in Keel's arms, shot down on a dark, cold shopping street.

In the aftermath of Peggy's killing, Keel crosses paths with an enigmatic stranger who will not reveal his name. As this man appears to know about the killer and the gang, Keel reluctantly plays along with him. The man Steed is working undercover and has infiltrated the gang. If Keel is to discover the identity of the killer and break the drugs gang, he must play a very dangerous game and trust a stranger who may well be playing him for a fool...

Click here to read about the original television episode

PRODUCTION
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes:
Volume 1, Episode 1
Recording Dates:
23-25 July 2013
Recorded at: Moat Studios
Duration: 42 minutes 10 seconds

RELEASE

Released as a part of
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes,Volume 1
ISBN:
978-1-78178-264-4
Release Date:
Wed 8 Jan 2014
Physical Release: Audio CD
Download Release:
MP3 / M4B Formats
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Peggy
Dr Richard Tredding
Det Supt Wilson
Spicer
Johnson
The Big Man
Charlie
Stella
Mrs Simpson
Sergeant Rogers
Passerby
Patient
Anthony Howell
Julian Wadham
Camilla Power
Colin Baker
Tim Bentinck
Adrian Lukis
Adrian Lukis
Phil Mulryne
Blake Ritson
Anjella Mackintosh
Anjella Mackintosh
Kieran Bew
John Banks
Richard Franklin
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

At the present time, no original soundtrack has been released by Big Finish.

BONUS FEATURES

Interviews with producer David Richardson, adaptor John Dorney and actor Colin Baker;
Production Notes Booklet (with CD only)

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Purchase from Big Finish

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Ray Rigby, from a story by Patrick Brawn
Adapted for audio by -
John Dorney
Recording, Sound Design, Music and CD Mastering
Toby Hrycek-Robinson
Series Theme -
Johnny Dankworth, rearranged by Toby Hrycek-Robinson
Interviews edited by -
Jamie Griffiths
BFP Administration -
Miles Haigh-Ellery, Charlotte Baker and Alison Taylor
Producers' Assistants - Hannah Peel, Paul Spragg and Frances Welsh
Cover Illustration -
Anthony Lamb
Booklet Design -
Mark Plastow
Booklet Notes -
Richard McGinlay
Web Services -
Hughes Media
Marketing Consultant -
Kris Griffin
Producer
David Richardson
Executive Producers -
Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
Director
Ken Bentley

Thanks to Massimo Moretti, Brian Clemens, Sam Clemens, Marcus Hearn, Richard McGinlay and Toby Hrycek-Robinson

A Big Finish Production

HOT SNOW DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This audio play is based on the television episode Hot Snow, the series' opening episode, originally broadcast on Saturday 7th January 1961 at 10.00pm in the ABC Midlands and North ITV regions. It was later shown in the ATV London, Southern, Television Wales & West, Tyne Tees and Ulster regions on Saturday 18th March 1961, also at 10.00pm.

  • Hot Snow has long been one of the most keenly sought examples of missing television, since it represents the genesis of The Avengers. Searches have led to the recovery in the USA of a 15-minute fragment comprising the first act of the episode (see Trivia...), two scripts and a modest number of behind-the-scenes production documentation, but it is only with this release that it's possible to sit down and take in the entire story in a digestible, dramatic form for the first time since 1961.

  • Actors Adrian Lukis and Anjella Mackintosh double up in this production, playing the dual roles of Spicer and Johnson, and Stella and Mrs Simpson respectively. It is a credit to the performers that this multi-tasking is not easily apparent to the listener, despite Lukis even acting alongside 'himself' in one scene! Mackintosh effectively draws out her characters' eccentricities an important factor during this relatively grim and gritty opening instalment, which is a far cry from the more familiar, idiosyncratic forms The Avengers would take in later episodes.

  • Toby Hrycek-Robinson evokes the sounds of the early 1960s with original incidental music that sounds not unlike the work of Johnny Dankworth and his contemporary Norman Kay. These cues are reused in later episodes, a practice that is entirely in keeping with the production process of the original television series.

  • The audio adaptation of this episode was recorded over a three day period between Tuesday 23rd and Thursday 25th July 2013 at Moat Studios. Four episodes were recorded during these sessions: Hot Snow, Brought to Book, Square Root of Evil and The Radioactive Man. The latter would ultimately be held back for the second volume as the producers wished to round off the first CD set with a more typical instalment of The Avengers.


  • Brought to Audiobook... The character of Passerby (John Banks) is added to the first scene of the audio version of this episode, in order to establish the fact that Spicer has arrived at the surgery of Dr Tredding. In the television version, this exterior film sequence had no dialogue.

  • Another dialogue-free scene, from the start of Act 2, is omitted from the audio play. In the television camera script, this short sequence has Keel entering his house, taking off his coat in the hallway and then moving through to the living room. There he sees Peggy's coat. He picks up the garment, hangs it up in the hallway and walks out of the house again. This poignant little event is instead conveyed in dialogue during the next scene.


  • Trivia... The surviving fragment of this episode, which forms the complete Act 1 (of three) and runs for fifteen minutes and twenty-two seconds, was discovered alongside a full Series 1 episode, Girl on the Trapeze, at the UCLA Library in California, USA. Its existence was spotted by archive television enthusiast Dave Wood in April 2001 after the library put their catalogue online. A remarkable and historic find.

  • Big Finish's loving re-creation of the period even extends to retaining, in musical form, the original divisions between the acts where the commercial breaks would have been inserted.

  • Neither the draft nor camera scripts are clear as to the identity of the gang member who is shot dead at the end of the episode. The mystery was finally cleared up by actor Murray Melvin in autumn 2010, when he revealed that it was his character, Charlie, that was shot. Melvin remembered being sprawled out on the car bonnet as a result. Charlie's resting place is conveyed in the audio version via an additional line of dialogue from Det Supt Wilson (Tim Bentinck).

  • This opener is unique in the original series of The Avengers in that it does not tie up all its loose ends and instead leaves them to be resolved in the next episode, Brought to Book the audio version of which is included in the same box set. These two episodes are generally acknowledged as being the sole two-part story of The Avengers' 1960s run, but it is more accurate to regard them as two separate stories with certain characters (Spicer, Dr Tredding and Det Supt Wilson) and a continuing subplot in common. The series finally presented a bona fide two-part story, K is for Kill, as part of The New Avengers Series 2 in 1977.
     


  • Stop Press... An interview feature written by Paul Spragg entitled Trusty Steed appeared in Vortex Issue 59 in January 2014. Actor Julian Wadham, debuting as John Steed in this audio adaptation, was the interview subject, and the feature concentrated on his first impressions of playing the iconic role. Asked about whether he was concerned about taking on a role so closely associated with one actor, Julian replied, "The thing I think I share with Patrick Macnee is I certainly have an affectionate regard on life and it seems to me that he did. And there's something about the twinkle in his eye and the smile that is a pleasure to replicate. And that is the only thing that I would particularly want to replicate. I think if you approach a part that other people have played before, you really want to run in the opposite direction; I certainly do. And then you let the part come to you through your understanding of the scripts. It's nice that we're playing the original scripts. This really is the Sixties that we're reading, it's not a contrivance. These are the authentic, original documents."

    Read the rest of the interview by downloading Vortex Issue 59 from Big Finish

  • Producer David Richardson, director Ken Bentley and actors Julian Wadham and Anthony Howell were interviewed about The Avengers - The Lost Episodes on the BBC Radio 4 programme PM on Thursday 26th December 2013 from 5.00pm.

 


  • And Finally... It seems incredible that 53 years after its original broadcast, Hot Snow is finally back in a form in which it can be enjoyed as a dramatic production. The surviving fragment of the original programme is impressive, and the loss of the remainder quite heartbreaking, for the missing material includes the first appearance of John Steed. In 2014, Big Finish turned heartbreak into joy, and as a result we can hear Keel and Steed's first adventure remade with an excellent cast by a talented writing and production team. Sometimes dreams do come true...

Plotline by Alan Hayes Declassified by Alan Hayes and Richard McGinlay
Images
Big Finish Productions Reproduced with permission

With thanks to David Richardson, John Dorney, Mark Plastow
and Big Finish Productions for their kind assistance

 

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