Production Number: Unknown

PLOTLINE

Agent Merton radios a warning that he has discovered that Hugh Rydercroft, the Controller of the Ministry of Ecology is to be killed at midday. Before he can give further details, he is attacked by mystery assailants.

Merton's warning proves chillingly accurate, as Rydercroft is killed on the stroke of noon as he pilots the light aircraft he is flying to a Swiss ecology conference. When the crash scene is examined, an inordinate amount of bird feathers are found clogging the aircraft's workings. Turner, the airport security officer, finds and removes a vital piece of evidence which leads him to the Sanctuary of Wings, a home for birds run by the enigmatic Zarcardi. He quickly rues his hot-headedness, as he falls foul of Zarcardi and the birds that he controls with a wind instrument of Middle Eastern appearance. He escapes and heads to Steed's house, but Zarcardi has his feathered killers descend upon him outside. Turner manages to give Steed a warning that the next target is to be Professor Waterlow, before dying of shock.

Using his initiative during an attack from the skies, Steed is able to protect Waterlow, who reveals that along with Rydercroft and other ecologists, he is behind an initiative to limit the global numbers of birds due to overpopulation – and it is this that Zarcardi has taken exception to. Meanwhile, Purdey has broken into the Sanctuary of Wings and finds herself at the mercy of Zarcardi and his winged avengers...

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The New Avengers: Series 1, Episode 6
Production Completed:
Jun 1976
Recording Format: 35mm Colour Film
Archive Holding: 35mm Colour Film

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

Anglia: Tue 16 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
ATV Midlands: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Border: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Channel: Currently unconfirmed
Grampian: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Granada: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
HTV: Sun 31 Oct 1976, 7.50pm
Scottish: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Southern: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Thames: Tue 16 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Tyne Tees: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Ulster: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Westward: Fri 12 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Yorkshire: Fri 19 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
AUSTRALIA: Wed 30 Mar 1977
CANADA:
Thu 17 Mar 1977
FRANCE:
Sat 8 Jan 1977
GREECE: Fri 13 May 1977
IRELAND: Tue 2 Nov 1976
ITALY: Thu 15 Jun 1978
MALAYSIA: Thu 15 Dec 1977
MALTA: Mon 7 Mar 1977
NETHERLANDS: Thu 11 Nov 1976
SINGAPORE: Wed 20 Jul 1977
SPAIN: Sun 2 Aug 1981
SWITZERLAND: Tue 14 Dec 1976
TURKEY: Sun 25 Oct 1981
UNITED KINGDOM: Sun 31 Oct 1976
USA: Fri 17 Nov 1978
WEST GERMANY: Thu 12 Jan 1978
CHARACTERS & CAST
John Steed
Mike Gambit
Purdey
Zarcardi
Turner
Hugh Rydercroft
Professor Waterlow
Lewington
Bridlington
Hudson
Richard Foster
Tomkins
Merton
Controller
Patrick Macnee
Gareth Hunt
Joanna Lumley
Vladek Sheybal
Matthew Long
Basil Dignam
Peter Copley
Hugh Walters
Gordon Rollings
Joe Black
Patrick Connor
Kevin Stoney
Andrew Bradford
Brian Jackson
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

A suite comprised of music from the incidental score for this episode was re-recorded on 25th February 1980 and issued on the LP, Music from The New Avengers and The Professionals. It has subsequently been reissued on The Music of Laurie Johnson: The New Avengers, Edsel Records, 2009.

DVD EXTRAS

No episode-specific DVD extras available.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer – Dennis Spooner
Series Theme & Music –
Laurie Johnson
Production Designer –
Syd Cain
Lighting Cameraman –
Mike Reed B.S.C.
Producers – Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens
Director –
John Hough

Editor – Graeme Clifford
Assistant Director – Ron Purdie
Second Unit Assistant Director – Roger Simons
Location Manager – Nicholas Gillott

Camera Operator –
Jimmy Devis
Second Unit Lighting Cameraman –
Jimmy Allen B.S.C.
Second Unit Camera Operator – Malcolm Vinson
Sound Recordists –
Denis Whitlock, Gordon K. McCallum

Dubbing Editor –
Peter Lennard, Mike Hopkins
Casting Director –
Maggie Cartier
Art Director –
Robert Bell
Set Dresser – Simon Wakefield

Hairdressing Supervisor – Helene Bevan
Assistant Hairdresser – Joyce James
Make-up – Alan Boyle, Peter Robb King
Wardrobe Supervisor – Jackie Cummins
Fight Arranger – Cyd Child
Continuity – Renιe Glynne
Second Unit Continuity –
Pat Rambaut
Post-Production Co-ordinator –
Paul Clay
Production Supervisor – Ron Fry
Unit Manager – Robert Fennell
Construction Manager – Leon Davis

Processed by Rank Film Laboratories

Made at Pinewood Studios and on location

A Production of The Avengers (Film & TV) Enterprises Ltd
for TV Productions and I.D.T.V. Paris

MINISTRY VERDICT

This episode scores highly in every department and bears comparison with the very best of the original series. John Hough's direction is exemplary, as is the  cinematography from Mike Reed, BSC. Actor Vladek Sheybal contributes a compelling, understated and lyrical villain, one of the most perfectly judged central performances in the whole series, old and New. Spellbinding.

CAT AMONGST THE PIGEONS • DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This was the highest-rated episode of the season, gaining 7.5m and reaching #8 in the charts. Despite not being networked by ITV, the first season remarkably spent eight weeks in the charts.

  • Laurie Johnson's incidental music for Cat Amongst the Pigeons echoes his colleague, Bernard Herrmann's Hitchcock film scores.

  • Purdey rides a yellow Yamaha DT250 Enduro motorcycle, with a helmet carrying her name. For the scenes in which she appeared to be driving the bike, Joanna Lumley was doubled by Colin Skeaping and Wendy Cooper.

  • A short music suite from this episode, along with similar for two other episodes of The New Avengers (Tale of the Big Why and Obsession) was re-recorded by composer Laurie Johnson and The London Studio Orchestra for LP release – see 'Original Soundtrack'. These tracks have been reissued twice on compact disc, first in 1982 on The Avengers, on the Varese Sarabande label and more recently by Edsel Records on the third collection of Laurie Johnson music.


  • On Location... Locations for this episode included Wycombe Air Park, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, St. Hubert's House, a 19th Century hunting lodge in Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire, which doubled for Zarcardi's Sanctuary of Wings and Southall Water Tower, Southall, Middlesex, which appeared as the home of the short-lived ecologist, Richard Foster. The water tower is only a short distance from the Southall Gas Works which served as a filming location for The Midas Touch and Sleeper.


  • Trivia... This memorable installment pays homage to Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) and Psycho (1960) and also acts as a counterpoint to The Hidden Tiger from the fifth series of the original series. At one point, when Steed meets bird charmer Bridlington (Gordon Rollings), he is told how the birds are able to find their way in via the chimney. "Didn't you see that film?" asks Bridlington.

  • Purdey attempts a Humphrey Bogart impression and almost gets away with it...


  • Bloopers... A slight continuity error occurs in this episode. Zarcardi orders his feathered assassin to kill Richard Foster. When Gambit goes to protect the man, he takes with him a Ministry file carrying the name, 'W. Foster'.


  • And Finally... Fans of Vladek Sheybal, the late Polish actor who played Zarcardi so magnificently in this episode, may be interested to visit Vladek Sheybal Online, a superb memorial to a fine performer.

Plotline by Alan Hayes • UK Transmissions by Simon Coward and Alan Hayes
International Premieres by Denis Kirsanov • Ministry Verdict by Alan Hayes
Declassified by Gareth Humphreys and Alan Hayes

 

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