Production Number: Unknown

PLOTLINE

Steed entrusts three agents with photographic memories Roger Masgard, Helen McKay and Tony Field with the memorising and delivery of the Three Handed Game: a vital 4000-page secret document. To counter against kidnap and interrogation, each agent memorises alternate words of the document. The recipient of the information needs all three parts of the code to reconstruct the document.

However, Juventor, a master spy afflicted with a stutter, has hatched a plan which will allow him to bring the three minds and hence the full document into one mind: his! He steals a thought-transference machine from its inventor, and sets off on the trail of the three custodians of the code. One by one, he transfers their minds into his, with the Avengers powerless to prevent him. His reward for the document will be 10m the price that Colonel Meroff will pay for the information.

When Steed, Purdey and Gambit get close, Juventor plays his masterstroke. Our heroes find Juventor dead in an abandoned house on the Old North Road, but it soon becomes clear that their enemy is still alive, his mind inhabiting another's body. Their investigations lead them into a final battle in theatreland, where the weapons are not guns, but tap shoes...

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The New Avengers: Series 1, Episode 10
Production Completed:
Sep 1976
Recording Format: 35mm Colour Film
Archive Holding: 35mm Colour Film

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

Anglia: Wed 19 Jan 1977, 8.00pm
ATV Midlands: Fri 14 Jan 1977, 7.30pm
Border: Currently unconfirmed
Channel: Currently unconfirmed
Grampian: Currently unconfirmed
Granada: Fri 14 Jan 1977, 7.30pm
HTV: Sun 5 Dec 1976, 7.50pm
Scottish: Currently unconfirmed
Southern: Fri 14 Jan 1977, 8.00pm
Thames: Wed 19 Jan 1977, 8.00pm
Tyne Tees: Currently unconfirmed
Ulster: Fri 14 Jan 1977, 7.30pm
Westward: Fri 14 Jan 1977, 7.30pm
Yorkshire: Wed 30 Mar 1977, 8.00pm
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
AUSTRALIA: Wed 16 Mar 1977
BELGIUM:
Wed 22 Dec 1976
CANADA:
Thu 7 Apr 1977
FRANCE:
Sat 5 Feb 1977
GREECE: Fri 24 Jun 1977
IRELAND: Tue 23 Nov 1976
ITALY: Thu 20 Jul 1978
MALAYSIA: Thu 12 Jan 1978
NETHERLANDS:
Thu 2 Dec 1976
SINGAPORE: Wed 29 Jun 1977
SPAIN: Sun 30 Aug 1981
SWITZERLAND: Mon 4 Apr 1977
TURKEY: Sun 22 Nov 1981
UNITED KINGDOM: Sun 5 Dec 1976
USA: Fri 12 Jan 1979
WEST GERMANY: Mon 2 Apr 1984
CHARACTERS & CAST
John Steed
Mike Gambit
Purdey
Tap Ranson/Juventor
Juventor
Ivan
Larry
Professor
Colonel Meroff
Roger Masgard
Tony Field
Helen McKay
General
Dr Kendrick
Cary
Gumshoe
Patrick Macnee
Gareth Hunt
Joanna Lumley
David Wood
Stephen Greif
Tony Vogel
Michael Petrovitch
Hugh Morton
Terry Wood
Gary Raymond
Noel Trevarthen
Annie Lambert
Ronald Leigh-Hunt
John Paul
Bill Bailey
Joe Dunne
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

No episode-specific DVD extras available.

PRODUCTION DETAILS

Writers Dennis Spooner and Brian Clemens
Series Theme & Music
Laurie Johnson
Production Designer
Syd Cain
Lighting Cameraman
Mike Reed B.S.C.
Producers Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens
Director
Ray Austin

Editor Bob Dearberg
Assistant Director Ron Purdie
Location Manager Nicholas Gillott

Camera Operator
Herbert Smith
Second Unit Lighting Cameraman
Jimmy Allen B.S.C.
Second Unit Camera Operator Malcolm Vinson
Sound Recordists
Danny Daniel, Ken Barker

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

Hairdressing Supervisor Helene Bevan
Make-up Alan Boyle, Alan Brownie
Wardrobe Supervisor Jackie Cummins
Fight Arranger Cyd Child
Continuity
Mary Dalison
Second Unit Continuity
Pamela Mann
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

A low-key episode with a weak script which promises more than it ultimately delivers. The climax is of the anti-climax variety! Direction is a little below-par, as is Laurie Johnson's score which seems to focus too heavily on variations of the series theme. The guest cast are adequate but hardly light up the screen. However, David Wood deserves an honourable mention for his well-played dual role of Tap Ranson and Juventor. Some nice location work in this episode, particularly the footage shot at the Silverstone motor racing circuit. A perfectly watchable episode, but below the standard of the majority of episodes in The New Avengers first season.

THREE HANDED GAME DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... Annie Lambert's character, sculptor Helen McKay, has her hand bandaged in a splint. One assumes that this is an injury the character is meant to have received when working with a hammer and chisel, although the injury is not alluded to in the script. There is of course the possibility that Lambert had a genuine injury and the production team were trying to hide it as best as possible.

  • The character name 'Masgard' had previously been used in the The Avengers episode, The Living Dead (1967), also written by Brian Clemens. Masgard's character, a 'memory man', was clearly based upon Leslie Welch, a radio, stage and television performer whose act was entirely based upon his encyclopaedic knowledge of sports history. Welch was a popular figure in British entertainment in the 1950s and early 60s. Famously, in his final stage performance in the 1980s, he recited the League Division One and Two football results from earlier that same day, entirely from memory and without an error.

  • A professional tap dancer doubled for Purdey's final dance.


  • On Location: Distinctive location work in this episode, with sequences shot at the world famous Silverstone motor racing circuit in Northamptonshire and The Wimbledon Theatre in South West London. Location spotters might be interested to know that the latter venue was renamed The New Wimbledon Theatre in 2003, obviously taking its lead from The Avengers which also opted to make its freshness obvious when it returned in 1976!

  • The sequences shot at the Silverstone circuit feature two racing cars, both owned and driven by stunt driver, Val Musetti. The car seen out on track numbered 15 was owned by Musetti a March 752, which raced in the Formula 5000 series. It was powered by a Ford GA V6 engine. Later, after Steed has outpaced it in his Jag (a certain suspension of disbelief is required here!), we see it parked in the pitlane as Steed and Tony Fields (actor Noel Trevarthan) talk over tea in polystyrene beakers (very Silverstone!). They then walk down the pitlane to Fields' other, older car, a March 73B Formula Atlantic car (numbered 157). This car also raced in Formula 2, was much modified and had been redesignated as a 74B and a 75B by the time of filming. It appears to be in the 74B spec for its appearance in The New Avengers but its nose appears to have been removed and added to the 752 for filming (which explains the colour change from chassis to nose on the older car). Other tell-tale signs that the cars were 'set up' for filming rather than racing is that the 752 is running wet tyres on a dry track and its rear wing is in a high downforce configuration Silverstone is a low downforce track. Musetti would go on to feature as Stunt Co-ordinator on the four Canadian-made 1977 episodes of The New Avengers. Many thanks to Allen Brown of the excellent OldRacingcars.com website and Rob Jaina for supplying this information.


  • Personal History... Gambit reveals himself a little too much as an artist's model, while Purdey serves up a marshmallow pie the marshmallow is a neglected delicacy, she states. Judging by the look of her creation, it's easy to see why!


  • Trivia... John Paul returns as Dr Kendrick, previously seen in Target!

  • Three Handed Game was the second episode of this season of The New Avengers to build to a climax in a theatre. To Catch A Rat had previously concluded in a derelict theatre.

  • All DVD editions of this episode are affected by an audio error in the pre-credit sequence whereby the sound speeds up and slows down fractionally but noticeably.


  • Bloopers: During the snooker game that we see Steed, Purdey and Gambit playing, a professional player doubled for Patrick Macnee when he played shots. Unfortunately, the double was left-handed and Macnee right-handed. The shots are fleeting, however, and only the eagle-eyed would have noticed.

  • The latest in a long line of end credit typos actor Stephen Greif has his surname misspelt 'Grief' a common error.


  • And Finally... Purdey, who is supposed to be guarding Masgard, stays in his dressing room while he performs on stage. Bored, she finds a wig and paints her face in a clown style. Masgard, returning to the dressing room, is intercepted by Masgard and Ivan and has his mind transferred and wiped. One might say this was an extreme dereliction of duty on Purdey's part!

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
Thanks to Allen Brown and Rob Jaina

 

Back to Top