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Avengers on the Radio designed, maintained and Copyright by Alan and Alys Hayes.

The Avengers is Copyright CANAL+IMAGE UK Ltd. No attempt to infringe this copyright is intended. 

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

Coming to the Sonovision radio series of The Avengers from the standpoint of being a fan of the television series, it's easy to be prejudiced. The vast majority of visitors to this site no doubt see the radio series as an intriguing side road off the main path which takes in the original television series, Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg and a variety of other series regulars, The New Avengers and maybe even the recent Hollywood movie.

There are a dozen traps for fans of The Avengers to fall into when listening to the radio series as a secondary Avengers text. How do the episodes compare to their television counterparts? Does Donald Monat cut the mustard as Steed or is Patrick Macnee irreplaceable? How does Diane Appleby fare in comparison to Diana Rigg? Does the self-contained nature of the television programme suffer when transferred to radio in serialised form? All perfectly natural questions, and each with a debate that can easily be generated from them. We'll all have our opinions, but let's look at the radio series in another way.

Tune in Tonight!

Tune in Tonight... 
Springbok Radio brings you Donald Monat and Diane Appleby - The Avengers - tonight and every weeknight at 7.15pm.

STEP THIS WAY, IF YOU WILL...

Imagine it's December 1972 and you're sitting in a living room in South Africa. There's no television, so radio is the source of transmitted entertainment for the nation. Springbok Radio, "the Station for Brighter Broadcasting", is phenomenally popular and is the home of a wide variety of radio drama, comedy, variety and current affairs programming. This Monday evening, there's a new series starting. Donald Monat, a household name for a slew of comedy and drama credits in South Africa, is to play a character called John Steed in a show called The Avengers.

The Avengers? Now what's that all about?

Straight away, the radio series is heard in isolation - with no preconceptions, or certainly precious few. The series had a limited release via home rentals on 16mm film, but it would hardly have pricked the national consciousness. The radio series would have been the first big fanfare for The Avengers in South Africa. To the listeners who enthusiastically tuned in each weeknight, Donald Monat was Steed, Diane Appleby was Emma, Colin Fish was Mother. No argument.

It's all too easy to forget that to some, the television series was the secondary path off the main road (even though, of course, chronologically, the radio series followed the television in terms of production). Certainly, without the television series, the radio series would never have been made, but the important thing to consider is audience perspective. The South African fans, who had to wait many years before seeing the television episodes, may well have judged them against their memories of the radio series. Maybe they asked questions like, "can Patrick Macnee ever really replace Donald Monat?" or "does the series work outside the serial format?" or "why no narrator?" - maybe they didn't, but it's an interesting idea. Without the preconceptions surrounding actors, character depiction, storytelling, production style, incidental music and so on, the radio series was always going to succeed or fail on its own merits. It wasn't trading on audience awareness of any prior version. This wasn't The Avengers Return or even The Avengers Remade, to the eager listening public. This was The Avengers. Full stop.

SO... LET'S PLAY A LITTLE GAME...

Our perspective of the radio series will never be as uncluttered as that of the South African audience who originally listened in - Avengers fans like myself are preconditioned to expect certain things of a serial, before we've even heard as much as a syllable. I'm not advocating that the radio series be dealt with completely in isolation from the television series, more that occasionally, we try to shut off our preconceptions and just enjoy the radio episodes for what they are - try to place ourselves in the mindset of someone who is coming to The Avengers radio series to be surprised and to fall in love with the characters and plots.

Next time you listen to an Avengers serial, clear your mind of the Macnees, the Riggs, the Laurie Johnson music tracks, the way a scene was played on TV, how Emma Peel functions in a Tara King script, etc, etc, and try to imagine what it would have been like to hear it completely fresh, so that your opinions would be based upon the effectiveness of the radio production alone.

Just for a bit of fun.

And I'd love to hear what you come up with!

by Alan Hayes
with thanks to James Lincoln Warren