There's no denying that it's an exciting time to be an Avengers fan. In the 21st century, we have sets of remastered DVDs of the series at our fingertips, complete with commentaries from Avengers personnel, and extensive special features. We have the series enjoying a new lease of life in comic book form, a series of new books about the series are being issued, and now we have what is perhaps the most exciting new development for years, an Avengers audiobook series.

Audiobook producer Big Finish, a well-respected company who have been making and releasing audio plays based on genre series such as Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Sapphire and Steel and Dark Shadows for many years, acquired the licence from StudioCanal to do much the same for The Avengers, and started off by adapting for audio the missing television adventures of David Keel and John Steed. These episodes were broadcast in 1961 and, aside from two episodes and an extended extract of another that somehow survived, have become lost with little chance of recovery.

And that's where Big Finish come in. Adapted by the likes of John Dorney and Justin Richards, produced by David Richardson and directed by Ken Bentley, The Avengers - The Lost Episodes are full cast audio plays based upon surviving scripts, with authenticity being the name of the game. Minimal changes are inevitable, but the idea is that alterations will be restricted to those necessary to translate the script to the audio medium.

Cast members were announced in late July 2013, with Julian Wadham and Anthony Howell having landed the coveted central roles of John Steed and David Keel respectively. Wadham has enjoyed a long and successful career, with roles in films such as The Madness of King George, The Iron Lady and War Horse, and Downton Abbey, Midsomer Murders, Middlemarch and others for television. Howell, meanwhile is probably best known for his regular television role in Foyle's War as Paul Milner, but has also appeared in the American series Dracula, and British dramas such as Dirk Gently (as the ill-fated Gordon Way), The Other Boleyn Girl and Dungeons and Dragons - The Book of Vile Darkness. Other roles were also announced, with Doctor Who regulars Colin Baker (Dr Tredding) and Sophie Aldred being the first members of the supporting cast to have news of their participation made public.

The Big Finish releases are being issued at six-monthly intervals in box sets, each of which will contain four audio adaptations on compact disc. The first box was released in January 2013.

A further set of Avengers releases were announced on Thursday 19th March 2015, to be based on the well regarded comic strips that featured in the girls' comic Diana from December 1966 to June 1967. These eight stories will be issued in 2016 in two 4-CD/Download sets and, as a bonus, the original comic strips will be republished by Big Finish as a graphic novel.

The Avengers Declassified wholeheartedly supports this exciting series of releases and we most strongly encourage our readers to order these plays and, by doing so, ensure that the range will continue.

Feature by 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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