Production Code: BFPAVENGE004

PLOTLINE

After serving a seven-year jail sentence for armed robbery, Frank Preston is finally a free man. As soon as he leaves the prison, he heads for his stolen loot – over a hundred thousand pounds – which he hid away following his last job. However, he takes a detour to a disused warehouse when he realises he is being tailed. There he is confronted by two heavies, Stacey and Rocky, who threaten violence in an attempt to learn the location of the ill-gotten gains. Steed, who has also been pursuing Preston, chooses this moment to intervene. Stacey pulls out a knife, which is hardly sporting in Steed's opinion. The agent manages to fend off the thugs, but not before Preston has suffered a serious injury to his arm. He is going to need stitches.

Preston wants to avoid going to a hospital, where Stacey and Rocky could easily find him, so Steed takes him to Dr Keel's surgery, where the wounded man is treated by the doctor and Carol. Under anaesthetic, the semi-conscious patient mumbles something vague about the hidden loot. Unfortunately, Stacey and Rocky – and their mysterious boss - then assume that Preston must have confided in Keel, and they kidnap Carol in order to extort the whereabouts of the cash. Keel would gladly tell them, for Carol's sake, but he knows nothing. Steed promises to do all he can to track down the villains and rescue Carol.

Meanwhile, Preston has discovered where Carol is being held, but in return for the information he wants Keel to help him retrieve the loot. The two men drive to a manhole cover, which leads down into a smelly sewer. However, once again he has been followed...

Click here to read about the original television episode

PRODUCTION
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes:
Volume 4, Episode 3
Recording Dates:
19, 20, 22, 23 January 2015
Recorded at: Moat Studios
Duration: 49 minutes 24 seconds

RELEASE

Released as a part of
The Avengers - The Lost Episodes,Volume 4
ISBN:
978-1-78178-553-9
Release Date:
Tue 30 Jun 2015
Physical Release: Audio CD
Download Release:
MP3 / M4B Formats
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Carol Wilson
Frank Preston
Stella Preston
Nurse Wyatt
Operator
Stacey
Police Inspector
Rocky
Prison Warder
Anthony Howell
Julian Wadham
Lucy Briggs-Owen
Tim Treloar
Elizabeth Morton
Elizabeth Morton
Elizabeth Morton
Mark Bonnar
Mark Bonnar
Robbie Stevens
Robbie Stevens
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

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

BONUS FEATURES

Production Notes Booklet (with CD only)

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Purchase from Big Finish

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer – Richard Harris
Adapted for audio by -
Justin Richards
Recording and Music –
Toby Hrycek-Robinson at Moat Studios
Sound Design and CD Mastering –
Richard Fox and Lauren Yason
Series Theme -
Johnny Dankworth, rearranged by Toby Hrycek-Robinson
Interviews edited by -
(not credited)
BFP Administration -
Miles Haigh-Ellery, Cheryl Bly and Alison Taylor
Producers' Assistants - Ian Atkins, Sue Cowley, Hannah Peel, Joseph Smith, 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,
Jaz Wiseman, Alan Hayes and Toby Hrycek-Robinson

A Big Finish Production

HUNT THE MAN DOWN • DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This audio play is based on the television episode Hunt the Man Down, which was originally broadcast on Saturday 18th March 1961 at 10.00pm in the ABC Midlands, ABC North and Anglia ITV regions.

  • The television version of this episode was the first instalment of The Avengers since Brought to Book to be committed to videotape prior to broadcast, following a seven-week run of live transmissions. It was also the first to be screened in the programme's new fortnightly schedule, alternating with Deadline Midnight, a series produced by ATV, the company which held the franchise for the London region of the ITV network at weekends.

  • The television version of Hunt the Man Down does not survive today. Nor does the original script written by Richard Harris. However, storyline synopses exist, along with 37 production photographs, all but one of which were taken during a night-time location shoot.

  • The audio adaptation of this episode was recorded at Moat Studios on 19th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd January 2015. Four episodes were recorded during these sessions: Kill the King, A Change of Bait, Hunt the Man Down and Dead of Winter.

  • Hunt the Man Down is the first instalment in the Lost Episodes range to be developed from synopses rather than adapted from an existing television script. The other eight 'script-less' episodes will follow in subsequent volumes.

  • Interviewed for this set, script writer Justin Richards revealed that in preparation for adapting this episode, he viewed the existing television material from Series 1, read some of the surviving scripts and listened to the first Big Finish box set (the only one to have been released at that time), in order the gauge the desired tone.


  • Brought to Audiobook... Though extremely valuable as a resource, the synopses published in The Complete Avengers are not always entirely accurate, as comparison of other storylines against surviving episodes, scripts and images has proven. This may be because Dave Rogers was referring to old ABC Television synopses, which tended to be written before the script had been finalised. For example, The Complete Avengers states that Preston drives to the sewer as soon as he is out of prison. This seems unlikely, however, since it would give Stacey and Rocky a major clue as to where the stolen money is hidden. Several other synopses published subsequently agree that Preston has not reached the sewer when he is set upon. Justin Richards' script gives us the best of both worlds, in that it initially appears that Preston has unwittingly led Stacey and Rocky to his hiding place, a disused warehouse, but in fact this is a ruse.

  • Stacey's use of a knife to attack Preston is a clever piece of deduction by Richards. The Complete Avengers is lacking in detail regarding the nature of Preston's injuries, stating only that he is "attacked by two thugs". Several subsequent synopses, including that in Dave Rogers' 1995 follow-up The Ultimate Avengers, indicate that Preston is beaten up. The addition of the knife makes perfect sense, as the treatment of the wound to the victim's arm requires the use of anaesthetic - a crucial element of the plot. Location photographs from the television version of this episode show Preston (played on screen by Nicholas Selby) clutching his right arm in pain.

  • Production correspondence from 27th February 1961 indicates that a redesigned set for Keel's surgery was introduced in the ITV version of Hunt the Man Down. Producer Leonard White instructed that there should be some verbal reference to the new look in Episode 10 (Hunt the Man Down) and also in Episode 12 (Dance with Death), which would be the first time that viewers in the ATV London, Southern, TWW, Tyne Tees and Ulster ITV regions would see it. No such verbal reference is included in the audio adaptation of Hunt the Man Down. This may be to avoid the risk of confusing listeners, who will have already heard one such mention in the Big Finish adaptation of Dance with Death.

  • The villainous triumvirate and their plans in this episode are notably similar to those in Double Danger (which in television terms followed eight episodes after Hunt the Man Down, though the audio adaptation was released one volume earlier). Both episodes revolve around the search for loot hidden away by a convicted robber, and both involve the kidnapping of Carol when the villains – including the former convict's estranged wife - believe that the injured thief has passed vital information to Keel. These similarities may have prompted some of the rewrites that affected the television version of Double Danger, including a softening of the estranged wife, Lola, who was originally a much tougher character. Big Finish writer Justin Richards makes use of this theory to 'reverse engineer' the character of Stella, making her a hard-nosed villain, totally lacking in sympathy for her injured husband. He may also have been inspired by the opening phrase of the TV Times prιcis: "A woman's secret and a double-cross". The writer makes Stella the head of her gang, in stark contrast to Lola, who was very much at the bottom of the hierarchy in Double Danger.

  • In The TV Times Souvenir Extra – The New Avengers (1976), Ian Hendry recalled a scene that took place after the climactic confrontation in the sewers, which had involved a fight in an eight-foot-square water tank: "I had to jump from the tank, run around the set to where the wardrobe and make-up departments were ready with a towel to dry my hair, and slap on a dry top coat so I could make a casual entrance to a room with Steed by my side. This scene was allegedly happening many hours later. Underneath, I was sopping wet, but as far as the viewers were concerned, I was as warm as toast in my lovely overcoat." This recollection has not been factored into the audio production, possibly because it is not quite in keeping with the series' style - Series 1 episodes tended to eschew epilogue scenes. Furthermore, actors' recollections years after the fact cannot always be taken as the gospel truth. For example, in the same interview, Hendry remembered an old lady releasing him from a cupboard in A Change of Bait, whereas in fact it had been a man who did this - Arthur Barrett as the antiques dealer Andre.


  • Trivia... Hunt the Man Down is one of nine missing episodes of The Avengers for which not only the visual recordings but also the scripts are lost to us. The closest things we have to contemporary story information about this episode are a 20-word prιcis printed in TV Times to coincide with the transmission, and a summary of less than 300 words published in Dave Rogers' 1989 book The Complete Avengers, the latter presumably based on an ABC Television synopsis. In recent years, further information has been extrapolated by the authors of this website - we managed to get it to just over 800 words. Now Justin Richards has expanded upon that work tenfold, fleshing out the storyline into a full-length script, providing all the characters with dialogue, hypothesising previously undocumented scenes and plot strands, and generally joining the dots in an imaginative and convincing manner. As a result, this audio production contains plenty of surprises for even the most knowledgeable of Avengers fans.

  • In additional to the parallels between this episode and Double Danger, there are strong similarities to the New Avengers episode The Tale of the Big Why, in that the story focuses upon the release from prison of a man who has hidden the proceeds of a major robbery and, having done so, becomes the target for other interested parties who wish to relieve him of his plunder. The Tale of the Big Why was originally written as The Tale of the Double Cross by Philip Broadley and was heavily rewritten by Brian Clemens prior to broadcast (indeed, the broadcast version carries no credit to Broadley). Despite Clemens' involvement in the writing of Series 1, the similarities between that episode and this are most likely to have been coincidental.

  • Most synopses for Hunt the Man Down are unclear as to Stella's whereabouts at the end of the story. It is well known that Stacey and Rocky follow Frank and Keel to the sewer, taking Carol with them as a hostage. This is evidenced by synopses and by one of the location photographs, which shows Maurice Good as Stacey, Gerry Duggan as Rocky and Ingrid Hafner as Carol standing above an open manhole. Melissa Stribling, who played Stella on screen, also appears in the night-shoot stills - not in the same shot, admittedly, but this does suggest that her character was involved in the sewer sequences.

  • The production photographs also illustrate the fact that the sewer entrance is located near a bomb-damaged church - St Alban's on Wood Street, London EC2, which was burnt out and partially destroyed during the Blitz in 1940. The church ruins remained standing when The Avengers filmed on Wood Street and the photographs from the night shoot reveal some parts of the structure that are not in evidence on the tower as it survives today. The derelict church is referenced in dialogue between Preston and Keel in the audio adaptation. The ruins were finally demolished in 1965, leaving just the 92-foot tower, which is now a private dwelling sited on a traffic island – a somewhat incongruous structure when viewed in context with the modern office and banking structures that surround it, defiantly resisting the passage of time. The tower was designated a Grade II listed building on 4th January 1950.

  • Despite hailing from a much earlier point in Series 1 than the other three adventures in this volume, Hunt the Man Down is arguably well placed in the aftermath of A Change of Bait. The television version of Hunt the Man Down originally followed a tale of insurance fraud and arson (Ashes of Roses), and on audio it still does (coming after the similarly themed A Change of Bait)!


  • Stop Press... An interview feature entitled Bowlered Over appeared in Vortex Issue 77 in July 2015 to coincide with the release of the fourth volume of The Avengers - The Lost Episodes. Producer David Richardson remarked upon an important milestone for the audiobook series: "With volume four, we exhaust the supply of existing scripts...  With... Hunt the Man Down, our job gets much harder - recreating the stories from synopses, Tele-Snaps, anecdotal evidence and anything else we can pull together with the help of advice from The Avengers experts Alan Hayes and Richard McGinlay. It's a great weight of responsibility - and a lot of fun - getting it right and I'm pleased to say for our cast the move between different types of scripts has been seamless."

    Read the rest of the interview by downloading Vortex Issue 77 from Big Finish

 


  • And Finally... The summary of Hunt the Man Down in The Complete Avengers is unusual in that it contains a line of speech - "That's where we hid it" - which is murmured by the semi-conscious Frank Preston. The line has been incorporated into the Big Finish adaptation, but it does beg the question of who are the others referred to in Preston's collective "we". They cannot include Stacey, Rocky or Stella, who do not know the whereabouts of the hidden loot. Presumably Preston had allies when he originally stole the money, but what became of them? This is not directly addressed in the audio script, though Steed does mention that Preston's prison sentence was reduced owing to good behaviour, so perhaps his fellow criminals are still inside.

Plotline by Richard McGinlay • Declassified by Richard McGinlay and Alan Hayes
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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