Production Code: BFPAVENGE001

PLOTLINE

Steed meets a contact, Wilson, to hand over some top-secret microfilm. This contains the chemical formula for a new drug called Morgantol, which Wilson must take to Geneva. Suddenly, they are set upon by a mysterious, bowler-hatted assailant, who fatally stabs Wilson and injures Steed. He does not get away with the formula, however, which is destroyed by Wilson in his final moments of life.

Steed retreats to a health club, where he meets Keel and explains the situation to him. Another batch of microfilm is being prepared, and Steed asks Keel to secretly transport it to Geneva. The doctor is due to fly out there to a World Health Organisation conference in any case, so his journey should not arouse suspicion. Well aware of the potential benefits and also the possible dangers of the new drug, Keel agrees.

The replacement microfilm is delivered to Keel's surgery by Scott, a fellow agent of Steed. The microdots are concealed in an admission card for the WHO conference. However, before he has a chance to brief Keel about arrangements for its delivery, Scott is surprised by Benson, the man in the bowler hat. Benson is unable to locate the microfilm, but he succeeds into deceiving Keel. The doctor flies out to Geneva completely unaware that his invitation contains the valuable secret formula.

When Keel arrives and checks in at his hotel, he is attacked by Benson and rendered unconscious. He awakes to find himself in the company of the Swiss police, who suspect him of murder a murder carried out with the very gun that they found in Keel's hand...

Click here to read about the original television episode

PRODUCTION
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes:
Volume 1, Episode 4
Recording Dates:
30 September and
1,3,4 October 2013
Recorded at: Moat Studios
Duration: 60 minutes 19 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
Carol Wilson
Scott
Wilson
Borsh
Yvette
Maid
Pallaine
Bourg
Benson
Dubois
Henry
Operator
Aircraft Tannoy
Swiss Policeman
Anthony Howell
Julian Wadham
Lucy Briggs-Owen
Sam Clemens
Sam Clemens
Sam Clemens
Francesca Hunt
Francesca Hunt
Nigel Carrington
Nigel Carrington
Nicholas Briggs
Nicholas Briggs
Terry Molloy
Rachel Atkins
Derek Carlyle
Derek Carlyle
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

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

BONUS FEATURES

Interview with actor Sam Clemens;
Production Notes Booklet (with CD only)

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Purchase from Big Finish

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Brian Clemens
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

ONE FOR THE MORTUARY DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This audio play is based on the television episode One for the Mortuary, originally broadcast thirteenth in the series' run on Saturday 29th April 1961 at 10.00pm in the ABC Midlands and North, Anglia, ATV London, Southern, Television Wales & West, Tyne Tees, Ulster and Westward ITV regions.

  • The television version of this episode does not survive today. However, one rehearsal script has been located, along with a set of off-screen Tele-Snaps and one production photograph.

  • The audio adaptation of this episode was recorded over four days in studio between Monday 30th September and Friday 4th October 2013 (with Wednesday 2nd October being a rest day) at Moat Studios. Four episodes were recorded during these sessions: Ashes of Roses, Please Don't Feed the Animals, Dance with Death and One for the Mortuary. The first three of these would form part of The Lost Episodes, Volume 2, along with The Radioactive Man from the initial recording sessions in July 2013.

  • The original plan was to close the first volume of The Lost Episodes with The Radioactive Man. However, that was felt to be a very atypical episode to conclude with, particularly following the frequently gritty subjects covered during the preceding three episodes. Something more idiosyncratic was called for... and One for the Mortuary was deemed to fit the bill. Writer Brian Clemens' story is populated with eccentric characters such as the one-eyed assassin Benson, the split personality of Pallaine, and, last but by no means least, the taxidermist Bernard Bourg - very much an Avengers cocktail.


  • Brought to Audiobook... One for the Mortuary is by far the longest-running episode in The Lost Episodes: Volume 1. This is due in large part to the surviving rehearsal script being a lengthier and more detailed document than any of the camera scripts that form the basis of the other episodes in this collection. Whereas each of the previous three episodes run to less than the television show's usual target duration of 52 minutes and 30 seconds, this one exceeds that amount by almost eight minutes. Assuming that the original production would have played out in rehearsals to a length similar to that of the audio adaptation, the writer Brian Clemens, in consultation with story editor Patrick Brawn, would have trimmed some of the scripted dialogue and action when producing the camera script, so as to bring the episode as near as possible to its target duration. However, when this episode was adapted for audio it was not possible to establish exactly what these cuts comprised as a copy of the camera script could not be located.

  • Another contributing factor to the duration of One for the Mortuary is the amount of descriptive dialogue needed to establish some of the episode's more unconventional or visual-orientated aspects in the medium of sound, such as the appearance and methods of Benson, the Turkish baths in which Steed hides out ("Do you have a guidebook called 101 Strange Places to Meet in London, or is coming up with them just a gift?" Keel wonders), the switching of the doctor's admission card, Benson's ransacking of Yvette's apartment, and the cathedral-like grandeur of Bourg's emporium.

  • In the opening scene of the television production, Benson has a non-speaking thug to assist him, but this character has been dropped from the audio version. Similarly, Tele-Snaps show that in the final scene Pallaine originally had several more henchmen in addition to Benson. Come to think about it, though, they could still be there we just can't hear them!

  • The role of Henry, the masseur at the steam room that Steed retires to for treatment, was played in the television episode by an uncredited, non-speaking Afro-Caribbean extra. The Big Finish adaptation gives the character a handful of lines of dialogue, mainly to explain the location and the extent of Steed's injuries, and is played by Terry Molloy as a kind of East End rough diamond. It is worth noting that Brian Clemens' rehearsal script describes the character as simply "a huge man", and makes no reference to his ethnic origin.

  • The original episode used the gimmick of identifying Benson's employer by showing his hand moving pieces on a chess board. In the audio version, this visual clue has been ingeniously replaced by a distinctive piece of music.

  • Tele-Snaps reveal that the television episode underwent some significant changes subsequent to the surviving version of the script. For example, Steed's rescue of Keel from the Swiss police appears to have been a far more low-key affair than the scripted scene in which Steed pretends to be a member of the hotel staff and overwhelms the policemen with a heap of laundry. The audio version follows the script for this scene. Other incidents shown in the Tele-Snaps have been worked in, though, including the point in the plot at which Pallaine gets his hands on the formula for Morgantol (which happens a little sooner on screen than it does in the script), the fact that Dubois converses with Keel in the final scene, and the tying up of Bourg who in the script is simply forgotten about.


  • Trivia... The television version of this story was the first episode to have been photographed off-screen by commercial photographer, John Cura. Under the company name 'Tele-Snaps', Cura ran a unique service from 1947 until his death in 1969, whereby he could provide actors and production staff with a visual record of how their television productions appeared on screen. Avengers producer Leonard White became aware of this service and used it extensively throughout the 1960s. Fortunately, White had the foresight to preserve these photographs and consequently, Avengers fans now have some visual record of thirteen of the missing episodes of Series 1. The Tele-Snaps have been reproduced in a book that accompanies the Series 1 & 2 Avengers release from StudioCanal UK and these images have also been utilised to create reconstructions of these episodes, which also appear on the StudioCanal DVD range.

  • Actor Sam Clemens is the son of Brian Clemens, the original writer of this episode and undoubtedly the most influential contributor to the series as a whole, having penned more than a quarter of all episodes of The Avengers and The New Avengers, as well as story editing and eventually producing the show. In this audio production, Sam Clemens plays three roles, those of Wilson, Scott and Borsh. All three characters meet unpleasant fates: Wilson is run through with Benson's swordstick, as is Scott, while Borsh gets shot. Has someone got it in for Clemens Junior?


  • Stop Press... An interview feature written by Paul Spragg entitled Trusty Steed appeared in Vortex Issue 59 in January 2014. Actor Julian Wadham was the interview subject, and the feature concentrated on his first impressions of playing John Steed. Asked about the different dynamic of a male-male partnership compared to a male-female one, Julian replied, "Funnily enough, that rather surprised me, because of course like probably ninety per cent of the public, I was anticipating a John Steed / Emma Peel kind of dynamic. John Steed, it seems, is the model for James Bond's flirtatiousness. Although the James Bond books were written before the Avengers series, the style in which John Steed flirts with every woman he comes in contact with is not something that was in the Bond books; apparently that was created for the films, which came after The Avengers."

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

 


  • Bloopers... The cast list given on the CD inlay credits actress Rachel Atkins for two roles Cinema Announcer and Operator although only the latter role features in this episode. The cinema announcer entry is most likely a cut-and-paste error taken from Big Finish's cast list for Dance with Death.


  • And Finally... A Matter of Life and Death would have been a most suitable title for this episode, so much so that one wonders whether it actually was the working title at some point. Quite apart from the customary levels of physical threat that one finds in an Avengers episode, and the dual nature of the wonder drug Morgantol (which can kill or cure), the phrase itself and variations on it ("a matter of life and death", "could be life or death") are uttered on a number of occasions by various characters throughout the script.

Plotline by Alan Hayes Declassified by Alan Hayes with 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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