Production Number: 3374 Tape Number: VTR/ABC/1211

PLOTLINE

After serving a long prison sentence for robbery, Frank Preston is finally a free man. He heads straight for his stolen loot over a hundred thousand pounds which he hid away following his final job. However, he has not got far before he is confronted by two thugs, Stacey and Rocky, who beat him up in an attempt to learn the location of the ill-gotten gains. Steed, who is under orders to pursue Preston and recover the money himself, has been following at a distance. He intervenes, managing to fend off the attackers.

Steed takes Preston to Dr Keel's surgery, where the injured man is treated by Keel and Carol. Unfortunately, the thugs then assume that Preston has confided in Keel, and they kidnap Carol in order to extort the whereabouts of the cash. Preston, who knows where Carol is being held, then forces Keel to help him retrieve the loot.

The two men drive to a manhole cover, which leads down into a smelly sewer, where Preston had concealed the money. However, once again he has been followed...

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 10
Production Completed:
Sun 12 Mar 1961
Recording Format: 405 Line B/W Video
Archive Holding: DOES NOT EXIST
John Cura Tele-Snaps: Not Photographed
Reconstruction: Not currently possible
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
UNITED KINGDOM: Sat 18 Mar 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

ABC Midlands: Sat 18 Mar 1961, 10.00pm
ABC North: Sat 18 Mar 1961, 10.00pm
Anglia:
Sat 18 Mar 1961, 10.00pm
ATV London: Not transmitted
Border:
Not transmitted
Grampian: Not transmitted
Scottish: Not transmitted
Southern: Not transmitted
TWW: Not transmitted
Tyne Tees:
Not transmitted
Ulster: Not transmitted
Westward: Not transmitted
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Carol Wilson
Frank Preston
Paul Stacey
Rocky
Stella Preston
Nurse Wyatt
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Ingrid Hafner
Nicholas Selby
Maurice Good
Gerry Duggan
Melissa Stribling
Susan Castle
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

Studio Canal, UK: Stills Gallery

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Richard Harris
Series Theme & Music
Johnny Dankworth
Designer
Robert Fuest
Story Editor
Patrick Brawn / John Bryce
Producer
Leonard White
Director
Peter Hammond

Other credits not available

Studio Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production

HUNT THE MAN DOWN DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... Peter Charles Hammond Hill (15th November 1923 to 12th October 2011) was a mainstay of The Avengers in its formative years. He and fellow director Don Leaver helmed the majority of Series 1 between them and thus had a pivotal role in creating the show's distinctive look. Hammond established himself as a quick worker who nevertheless brought flair to his episodes, eventually directing eighteen Avengers, including Hunt the Man Down. He developed a trademark style in which the confines of the studio set would be enlivened by 'foreground interest', and scenes would be distorted or heightened by being shot through glass or reflected in a mirror. This technique is evident in productions as diverse as his Avengers debut, Brought to Book, and numerous episodes of Granada's Sherlock Holmes series (1986-1994). His other work included Out of the Unknown (1965), Theatre 625 (1967), The Wednesday Play (1968-1969), Tales of the Unexpected (1982-1984) and Inspector Morse (1987-1990). He had a good rapport with actors, perhaps due to his background in that area. After attending Harrow School of Art, he became a scenic artist before turning to acting, notably for Gainsborough Pictures, appearing as Peter Hawtrey in the Huggetts trilogy (1948-1949). He later became a regular in the ITV series The Buccaneers (1956-1957) and a semi-regular in William Tell (1958-1959), before joining the BBC in 1959 as a trainee producer. Patrick Macnee credited Hammond as a major influence in shaping the character of Steed. Though Hammond often referred to himself as "just a television hack", Avengers producer Leonard White and series instigator Sydney Newman both congratulated the director on giving the early videotape episodes their unique style. It was through his work on The Avengers and Armchair Theatre (also for Leonard White) that Hammond earned a Guild of Television Producers and Directors award in 1965.

Director Peter Hammond lines up a shot outside the Telephone Exchange
during the Wood Street night shoot

  • Production correspondence of 27th February 1961 indicated that a redesigned set for Dr Keel's surgery was being introduced in Hunt the Man Down. From the scant visual records that survive from earlier episodes, it appears that the geography of the set changed somewhat and the walls were given a darker colour scheme. Producer Leonard White instructed that there should be some verbal reference to the new look in Episode 10 (Hunt the Man Down) and probably 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.


The surgery set as seen in
Square Root of Evil
(Episode 3)


How the surgery set was seen in
Hunt the Man Down
(Episode 10)

  • Contemporary documentation shows that this episode saw an increase to The Avengers' budget allocation, which rose from 3,550 to 3,770 per episode. This adjustment took into account the fees for the three continuing cast members: Ian Hendry, Patrick Macnee and Ingrid Hafner. Hendry would be paid 315 per episode for Episodes 10 (Hunt the Man Down) to 16 (The Yellow Needle) inclusive, with Macnee earning 300 per episode over the same period. Hafner would receive 52.10s per episode for Episodes 12 (Dance with Death) and 13 (One for the Mortuary), rising to 60 per episode for Episodes 14 (The Springers) to 16. Hafner's earnings may seem pitiful compared to those of her male colleagues, but it is worth noting that Hendry's and Macnee's fees reflected their starring roles, and their payments were guaranteed totals including rehearsals, whereas Hafner could earn additional payments for rehearsals. (However, she would presumably have earned no rehearsal fee for The Springers, since her character did not appear in that episode.)

  • Following seven consecutive live shows, Hunt the Man Down was the first episode of The Avengers since Brought to Book to be committed to tape prior to broadcast. Production was completed on Sunday 12th March 1961, almost a week ahead of transmission in the ABC Midlands, ABC North and Anglia regions on Saturday 18th March 1961.


  • On Location... It is often the case with missing Avengers episodes for which scripts have not survived that little is known about any location work that was carried out. In this case, however, the location work is one of the best-known aspects of the episode, thanks to more than thirty photographs that were taken during a night shoot. These images (which can be seen in the stills gallery for Hunt the Man Down featured on the British DVD release, The Avengers The Complete Series 2 + Surviving Episodes from Series 1) include behind-the-scenes shots such as director Peter Hammond behind the camera, Ian Hendry getting into costume, and the cast and crew relaxing over drinks after work has been completed. The photographs also illustrate specific aspects of the story: Keel and Preston arriving at a manhole cover and descending into the sewer; Stacey, Rocky and Carol arriving after them; and Steed loitering in a doorway.

  • Steed is seen standing outside a building on which a plaque reads: "Hammersley House, 90 & 91 Wood Street". The Wood Street in question is in London EC2, not far from St Paul's Cathedral. However, today's location hunters may find the visit a frustrating one because Wood Street has been almost completely redeveloped in the intervening years and, aside from the church tower of St Alban which can be seen in several photographs from Hunt the Man Down, is otherwise unrecognisable today.

  • The stubborn location hunter, desperate to breathe in something in the Wood Street air that might be reminiscent of this sadly missing episode, will no doubt home in on the church tower of St Alban. It is an odd, somewhat incongruous structure when viewed in context with the modern office and banking structures that surround it, sited in the middle of the road, defiantly resisting the passage of time. The story behind the tower's presence on Wood Street is a long one, dating back to the time of King Offa of Mercia, who ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom from 757-796AD. Offa was reputed to have built a palace, complete with a chapel, on the site and, in 793, founded an abbey which he dedicated to St Alban, leading to many churches in the London area being dedicated similarly. The parish records for the church of St Alban date back to 930, and the original structure endured until 1633, when it was demolished on the recommendation of Inigo Jones and Sir Henry Spiller as it had fallen into a state of considerable disrepair. The new St Alban's church, designed by Inigo Jones, was completed in 1634, but this survived just thirty-two years and was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. It was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in a late Perpendicular Gothic style and was completed in 1685. It was restored in 1858-1859 by George Gilbert Scott, who added an apse to the structure. The fate of the church was sealed in 1940 when it fell victim to Adolf Hitler's 'Blitz' of London, a strategic bombing programme which lasted for fifty-seven consecutive nights and accounted for in excess of forty thousand civilian lives. The damage to property was extensive also, and St Alban's church was burnt out and partially destroyed. The church ruins remained standing when The Avengers filmed on Wood Street and the photographs from that night shoot reveal some parts of the structure that are not in evidence on the tower as it survives today. The ruins were finally demolished in 1965, leaving just the ninety-two foot tower which is now a private dwelling sited on a traffic island. It was designated a Grade II listed building on 4th January 1950.

The remains of the church of St Alban's as photographed in 1952


  • Trivia... The expanded synopsis provided on this website deviates slightly from the version published in the Dave Rogers books The Avengers (1983) and The Complete Avengers (1989). For example, the previously published synopsis states that Preston forces Keel to do his bidding at gunpoint, but there is no sign of a gun in the production photographs. Furthermore, if he has a weapon, why doesn't he use it during the subsequent chase through the sewers? We theorise instead that Preston is unarmed and that the prospect of freeing Carol is enough to motivate Keel to aid him.

Rocky (Gerry Duggan), Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner) and Paul Stacey (Maurice Good)
at the sewer entrance

  • Previously published synopses are unclear about the whereabouts of Stella at the end of the story. It is well known that Stacey and Rocky follow Frank and Keel to the sewer, bringing Carol with them as a hostage. This is evidenced by the location photograph above, which shows Maurice Good (Stacey), Gerry Duggan (Rocky) and Ingrid Hafner standing above the open sewer entrance. Melissa Stribling (Stella) also appears in the night-shoot photos, not in the same shot, admittedly, but this does suggest that her character is involved in the sewer sequences. Her presence would help to explain why Stacey and Rocky take Carol with them otherwise, couldn't Stella have simply guarded Carol at home?

  • There are strong parallels between this episode and 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.

  • While Hunt the Man Down was being broadcast in the ABC Midlands, ABC North and Anglia ITV regions, audiences in the ATV London, Southern, TWW, Tyne Tees and Ulster regions were introduced to the world of The Avengers with the opening episode Hot Snow, which was being aired ten weeks after its premiere on ABC Midlands and ABC North. Because two different episodes of The Avengers were to be broadcast simultaneously in different regions, the target running time of Hunt the Man Down was 51 minutes and 48 seconds the exact duration of Hot Snow. This was so that other programming across the network could be kept to the same schedule.

  • Hunt the Man Down was selected as the opening episode of a planned repeat run of The Avengers in 1962, with the intention of bringing to ATV London the nine episodes that had not previously been screened in that region. Though these 'replays' were ultimately abandoned, the fact that this episode topped the proposed list suggests that it was considered a particularly strong example of the series by the programme makers.


  • And Finally... For almost half a century, the identity of the actor playing Frank Preston remained a mystery, since he was not credited in contemporary TV listings. He was finally identified in 2009, by Ian Beard on Roobarb's Forum, as Nicholas Selby (13th September 1925 to 14th September 2010). The reason why such a major character was not billed in magazines such as TV Times is unknown. It is possible that the role had not been cast in time to meet the deadline for sending out information to listings magazines, which at the time had print turnarounds of about a fortnight.

Plotline by Richard McGinlay UK Transmissions by Simon Coward, Alan Hayes and John Tomlinson
Declassified by Richard McGinlay with Alan Hayes

With thanks to Piers Johnson, Dave Matthews, Dave Rogers, Jaz Wiseman and StudioCanal for their kind assistance

 

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