Written by Brian Clemens

PLOTLINE

Agents Samantha Peel and Christopher Cambridge contact John Steed with intelligence regarding a planned attempt on his life by Russian double agent Bobby Lomax. Steed is unconcerned he killed Lomax five years ago. He is forced to reconsider when a young man bearing no resemblance to Lomax, but with knowledge only Lomax could possess, makes an attempt on his life. Lomax is foiled and seemingly killed by Sam, but Chris and Sam are determined to get to the bottom of Lomax's miraculous resurrection.

Investigations uncover further evidence that the seemingly-twice-dead Lomax is still alive, eventually leading to a confrontation with yet another iteration of Lomax. Lomax ends up mortally wounded but manages to escape.

Further inquiries lead Chris and Sam to a hospital ostensibly run by a man named Professor Wyndham. A visit to the hospital finds it crawling with Russian VIPs, with a Russian scientist called Gross posing as Wyndham. Chris and Sam quickly take their leave, and return surreptitiously, where they uncover the real story behind Lomax's reincarnation brain transplants into donor bodies. They manage to shut down the hospital operation and free the captured Wyndham, but Lomax, who has been resurrected a third time, is nowhere to be found. Aware that Lomax is consumed with the desire to exact revenge against Steed for killing him, they rush to save him. Lomax, this time in the body of a woman, makes yet another attempt on Steed's life, but Steed is one step ahead of him and knocks him out just as Chris and Sam arrive.

In the aftermath, Steed informs Chris and Sam that they will be working together on both sides of the Atlantic, and the new team rides off together with the prospect of more Avenging ahead of them.

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PROJECT INFORMATION
Project Type: Prospective Television Movie
and Series Pilot
Date:
March 1985
Surviving Materials:
Script
Status: Unproduced
CHARACTERS
John Steed

Patrick Macnee

Mrs Samantha Peel
Christopher Cambridge
Robert 'Bobby' Lomax
Robert Lomax One (Male)
Robert Lomax Two (Male)
Robert Lomax Three (Female - 'Cathy')
Doctor Gross
Topski
Nevsky
Yakoff
Nurse
Railway Guard
Railway Passengers
Young Man
Large Woman
Desk Clerk
Old Man
Elderly Porter (Alfred)
Burly Man
Intern
Dr Pinner
Man in Cemetery
Ginger Douglas
Female Dancers (12, inc 'Sandy')
Male Voice (on Radio)
Lady Laura Cartney
Freddy Weir
Girl Receptionist at Wig Maker's
Thatcher Arkwright
Professor Wyndham
Elga (Hospital Receptionist)
Maragin (Russian VIP)
Nunovski (Russian VIP)
Male Nurse
Duke
Thornton
 
MINISTRY VERDICT

A solid if unexceptional slice of Avengerland, let down mainly by its obvious desire to recreate the golden age of the Emma Peel era, most obviously in the form of Emma-alike Samantha Peel. Steed provides the essential link between the first two series and the new incarnation, but the pilot suggests minimal involvement for Patrick Macnee in future episodes, understandable as Macnee likely wouldn't have wanted to commit to another series of The Avengers full-time at that stage of his career. Presumably Steed would have eventually been phased out altogether once it was felt that the new characters had been sufficiently established. In many ways it is the series we likely would have ended up with had The Avengers run on into the eighties, with increasing reliance on American funding inevitably leading to the casting of an American lead, and filming split between Britain and the States. One can picture it easily joining the crowd of other 1980s action/mystery series, but as an also-ran, not the trend-setter the show was at its peak. 

Read the full review

AVENGERS INTERNATIONAL DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... Avengers International is one of several Avengers revivals / reinventions mooted over the years (keeping company with the likes of The Avenging Angel, The First Avengers Movie, the mid-nineties Purdey/Gambit reunion movie, and the proposed Cathy Gale film) that sparked a brief blip of publicity before sinking without a trace and never making it to the screen (as opposed to Escapade, which, against all odds, actually managed to produce a pilot before dropping into oblivion). This particular revival made it as far as the script stage. It was written by Brian Clemens.

  • Avengers International: Reincarnation was a 1985 project of the newly-formed Taft Entertainment Group, headed by Sarah Lawson. On 15th March 1985, the weekly television journal Broadcast ran a story about a possible revival for The Avengers, and featured quotes from both Lawson and scriptwriter Brian Clemens. The latter noted that Patrick Macnee had agreed to be involved, while Ms Lawson revealed that a pilot film was in development with a view to a series going into production, and that their star "would like to re-create John Steed as a more avuncular figure. He will have two younger operatives working for him, one English, one American, partly to provide a hook for viewers, partly to give it a more international flavour". Clemens meanwhile stressed that the new series would be "going back to grass roots, and it will be far more like the old Avengers than The New Avengers".

  • The success or failure of the project was entirely dependent upon American funding being secured. While money was forthcoming to pay for the writing of the script, funding for the production fell short of the amount necessary, and Avengers International quietly sank into obscurity.

  • The script of Avengers International: Reincarnation which survives is undated but it is believed to have been written in the early months of 1985.

  • The duration of the planned pilot film was not announced, but the length of the script compared to that of its feature-length forebear, The First Avengers Movie, would indicate that it was going to be a standard length Avengers episode. It would have filled a 60 minute transmission slot, with an actual running time of between 45 and 50 minutes, to allow for commercial breaks.

  • The 1985 script was devised as the first of a series of 13 episodes to be filmed on both sides of the Atlantic. Reincarnation would have set the scene for Christopher Cambridge and Samantha Peel to set out on adventures of their own, possibly with John Steed as a "Mother"-type character, or as an in-the-field liaison. Brian Clemens also mentioned that the possibility had been considered to introduce additional central characters throughout the 13 episode run and even beyond. However, the pilot film never got out of "development hell" and we can only wonder what this potential Avengers series might have been like.


  • Character Profiles... Steed: The original Avenger is still on the active list, but, in his own words, he doesn't "go scrambling over the Berlin Wall anymore. Princes, Presidents, and Prime Ministers, they're my forte these days." Not in the field as much as he once was, he lets others do the leg work, leaving Sam and Chris mostly to their own devices, though he does ask to be kept informed (a hunting dog at his shoot helpfully delivers him an update at one point). He knew Lomax well, though he ultimately had to kill him five years earlier. One of only three people allowed to call Samantha Peel "Sam", he's quite fond of her, though he carries a photo of her mother-in-law, Emma Peel, with him in his luggage. His three greatest fears are (apparently) the Inland Revenue, improperly decanted wine, and a surprise visit from his Aunt Agatha! He owns a pair of Purdey shotguns that were built for his father as a gift from the Maharajah, and which bear crests on the underside of the stock in gold wire. Still attractive to the opposite sex, he eschews the affections of the lovely Lady Laura Cartney on the grounds that she's married to a friend that he admires. He is also acquainted with reincarnation enthusiast Freddy Weir. Still on the same anti-smoking bent he was during The New Avengers, and disturbed by the prospect of having to hit a woman, he keeps several homes, including a country estate that allows him to indulge in riding when not driving his "beloved" 1927 green Bentley sports car.

  • Sam: Mrs Samantha Peel is one of several daughters of an English lord, but eschews her title in favour of plain "Mrs" Her friends call her Samantha, but only a select group of three has the privilege of calling her "Sam", Steed being one of them. Very intelligent, she studied anthropology at Oxford, and also mixes a good Martini. Beautiful and leggy in a "Hitchcockian mould", she is not an official agent, but a "talented amateur". Her spy career began when she took to accompanying her agent husband, Peter, the son of Emma and Peter Peel, on his assignments. Peter went missing on an assignment in Eastern Europe four years earlier, so, like her mother-in-law before her, she does not know whether or not she is a widow. She is very fond of Steed, with whom she shares a special bond. When deeply concerned about him, she calls him "John". Sam was gifted with her mother-in-law's Lotus Elan, and drives it expertly and fast. She is also proficient in combat and riding. A natural clothes horse, her wardrobe extends from action/fighting outfits, through "mannish" suits, all the way to other end of the spectrum in the form of youthful, wild, punkish clothes. As she likes space (and ships), she resides in a vast converted warehouse East of Tower Bridge, which overlooks cranes on the edge of the industrial Thames. An open-plan living area (with walled off bedrooms and bathrooms), it features painted girders, a motif of dark wood and red, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves (complete with library-style ladders), and a set of plaster heads charting man's evolution.

  • Chris: American agent Christopher Cambridge is frequently described as "frank", but a better adjective might be "thoughtful". Like Steed, he refuses to carry a gun, preferring instead to think his way out of tight spots his favourite line is "use your brain" rather than resort to violence. He wears eyeglasses (infrequently) because he reasons that even the toughest opponent hesitates momentarily when confronted with the prospect of hitting a man wearing glasses, giving Chris a brief window in which to gain the upper hand. That said, when the need arises, he's more than capable in a fight, launching into a blur of action and expert blows. Described as young, tall, and handsome, he dresses in expensive, formal suits of a discreet cut and colour in an attempt to blend into the crowd. Ruthless, efficient, and highly trained, but also quiet and self-effacing, he is described as being Steed's American counterpart. Chris is also well-educated, and went to Harvard. He is very interested in Sam, and makes that interest known, but her uncertain marital status due to her missing husband means that she is not emotionally able to entertain his advances, which she rebuffs, and she refuses to let him call her "Sam". Chris prefers urban environments over wide-open spaces, enjoys a good Martini, is a fan of jazz, and is an expert on a horse.


  • Trivia... Emma Peel doesn't actually appear in the episode, but she's referenced so often she feels like a shadowy fourth Avenger, lurking just off-screen and making her presence known by proxy. Aside from what we learn via her connections to Sam that she and Peter had a son, also called Peter, and that she gifted her Lotus Elan to her daughter-in-law we're also given a few other tidbits to pad out her post-Steed biography. At some point she was made a Dame "for services rendered" (foreshadowing Diana Rigg's own damehood by nine years), and that she, too, was acquainted with Lomax, who competed with Steed for her affections. Lomax bitterly notes that Steed always had the upper hand in that area, but references one particularly memorable evening at "Quaglino's recall that night when we each of us drank from her slipper?" Despite her "I'm not Mrs Peel anymore" line in K is for Kill, she's always referred to by her married name, and clearly her marriage to Peter Peel lasted long enough for her to have her son. Presumably she is still with Peter, but the script gives no indication one way or another. This doesn't stop Steed from carrying a framed photo of her in his luggage when he goes on holiday.

  • Emma isn't the only past Avengers woman to get a mention. Cathy Gale is obliquely referenced towards the end of the script. Whilst in his third iteration as an attractive woman, Lomax introduces himself to Steed as "Cathy". "There was once another Cathy in my life," Steed replies. Sam also studied anthropology at Oxford, which was Cathy's area of expertise.

  • Purdey is referenced using a bit of wordplay based on the fact that the character was (partially) named after the expensive shotgun of the same name. Steed, on his way to a shoot, lets Chris have a look at his gun, telling Sam "I was merely showing him my Purdey." "Mrs Peel reacts to this name!" says the script, clearly implying that Sam is aware of Purdey's role as Steed's past partner. The Purdey shotgun pun is used twice in the script.

  • The premise of the script is, essentially, a hybrid of the New Avengers episode Dead Men are Dangerous and the Tara King story Split!. The brain surgery, which involves transplanting the essential parts of the brain containing personality into a new body, is not far removed from transferring Boris Kartovski's consciousness into other people in Split!. Like Mark Crayford in Dead Men are Dangerous, Lomax is driven by his desire to exact revenge against Steed, who was always the better man. Lomax and Crayford were also both presumed to have been killed by Steed, but in each case the presumption was premature Crayford carried Steed's bullet in his heart for a decade, before it finally moved far enough to kill him; Lomax was killed by Steed in body, but his mind lived on to be transplanted. In both stories, Steed rules out the possibility of either man trying to kill him because he believes them to be dead, only changing his mind when the nature of the attacks makes it clear that they are very much alive.

  • Another element of the other brain-swapping plots seen in the series is also present. In several episodes, the transfer in consciousness becomes apparent due to trademark characteristics of the original incarnation surfacing in the new host body. Basil in Who's Who??? plays with dice, Juventor from Three Handed Game continues to stammer, and Boris Kartovski's hand deteriorates into a claw. Here, Lomax retains his penchant for black Sobranie cigarettes and continues to suffer from hay fever.

  • Given its presence at his home, Steed has either acquired a new Bentley in the last eight years, or the one destroyed in Dead Men are Dangerous has undergone a miraculous recovery!

  • At one point, Sam mentions that she studied at Oxford. Given that she and Chris frequently engage in friendly rivalry and one-upmanship, can it be coincidental that Chris' surname is "Cambridge"? A play on the Cambridge-Oxford rivalry, perhaps?

  • Chris' clear interest in Sam, and her constant rebuffing of his affections, harken back to the Purdey/Gambit "one of these days" dynamic in The New Avengers, though here the recurring theme is her refusal to let Chris call her "Sam", a privilege reserved for the very few.

  • Chris and Sam exchange dialogue very reminiscent of a similar exchange between Purdey and Gambit in K is for Kill:

    CHRIS: Would have been nice to have taken him alive.

    SAM: Keeping Steed alive was my prime concern.

    Compare to Purdey and Gambit's exchange:

    PURDEY: Gambit, we wanted him alive.

    GAMBIT: Conflict of interest. I wanted you alive.

  • There is some (possible) name recycling from the series' past in evidence. There were characters called Lomax in The Undertakers, Take-Over, and Concerto. Lady Laura Cartney also shares a name with John Cartney, from Brian Clemens' A Touch of Brimstone. Wig-maker Thatcher Arkwright shares a name with the Arkwright Knitting Circle in The Girl From Auntie.

  • Chris' struggle with Lomax's second incarnation leaves him holding Lomax's wig. This is reminiscent to Gambit discovering a toupee after defeating his opponent in The Eagle's Nest.

  • Samantha slides down a ladder "circus style", just like Tara in Super Secret Cypher Snatch.

  • Sam arrives just after Chris has defeated a number of opponents, and finds him leaning calmly against the wall with his defeated opponents sprawled around him. This echoes a scene between Steed and Emma in The Town of No Return, in which Steed managed a similar feat.


  • And Finally... The original name for Emma Peel's character was also "Samantha", shortened to "Mantha" to emphasis her masculine qualities. The name was dropped after ABC press officer Marie Donaldson shortened another of the character's qualities "Man Appeal" to "M-Appeal", which morphed into "Emma Peel". It is extremely likely that Brian Clemens chose the name "Samantha" due to it being a never-used Avengers girl name.

Plotline by J. Ferguson Ministry Verdict by J. Ferguson

Declassified by J. Ferguson and Alan Hayes

With thanks to Dave Matthews and Dave Rogers

 

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