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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. 


The genesis of Straight from the Shoulder is undoubtedly the most confusing of the existing radio serials. It is sourced from Invitation to a Killing, a ninety-minute introductory episode for the final series of The Avengers that was ultimately rewritten, partially re-shot and eventually broadcast in 1968 as Have Guns - Will Haggle - a standard length episode.

Invitation to a Killing was one of four episodes at least partially completed by a new production team who were themselves replaced when the production was clearly running badly behind time. The original television script was written by Donald James, and was redrafted (uncredited) by Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell as Have Guns - Will Haggle. The episode featured Patrick Macnee as John Steed and Linda Thorson as Tara King. Further information about the original version of Invitation to a Killing can be found in the Extras section for this serial.

Unhealthy Obsession...
Conrad Beardsley loved guns. Pistols, rifles, automatic firearms, the lot. In fact, his best friend was a Luger that really understood him...

Name Changes:
The factory is known as the State Ordinance Depot in the TV version, not Trupp & Withenshaw.

The factory/depot employee in league with the Beardsleys is called Crayford in the TV episode, not Paxton. Paxton seems a popular name in the radio shows... It also turns up in Escape in Time (Remake). The characters are, however, clearly different.

The TV episode does not give the Ballistics Centre a location - the radio version locates it at Shrivenham.

The FF70 rifle's full moniker was employed only in the television episode. The full code number was FF70/9074-XXV Mk.10 and the characters delighted in shortening it!

Character Changes:
The character of Tara King on the television episode is replaced with that of Emma Peel on the radio.

The TV episode features a Colonel Nsonga (from an un-named African state) instead of Colonel Aristides, a Greek. Nsonga knows Steed from the last coup in his country - they did not meet at Eton. There is the possibility that this character was replaced to avoid trouble with the censors - Nsonga being a black, high-ranking African revolutionary.

In the TV version, a character called Spencer (played by Timothy Bateson) is featured as a scientist at the Ballistics centre. The character is not present in the radio adaptation.

Giles retains the same name from the television version, but is now Greek instead of African. Although he does not say anything in the television episode, it is never stated there that he is a mute.

Storyline Changes:
The TV version starts with the staged theft of the three thousand rifles from the State Ordinance Depot, whereas the radio version implies that the Paxton character has been allowing Conrad to collect the rifles without recourse to such subterfuge. The Crayford character (TV) lets the thieves in and is deliberately beaten unconscious to keep up the pretence. When Conrad goes back to the depot in the TV episode, to collect more ammunition, he shoots Crayford dead in order make it seem like more theft.

Tara does not stage a photo shoot at the depot in order to get in, since she has a red pass and is able to access all areas. She is followed back to her flat by Conrad, who breaks in and kidnaps her at gunpoint.

There is no collection of rifles at Steed's flat in the TV episode, nor do he and Tara engage in a shooting contest. Thus they do not need to have dinner at Nsonga's hotel - indeed Tara never visits the hotel.

Steed's first visit to the hotel in the TV episode is when he breaks into the Colonel's room and finds the money and uniform. He does not meet Nsonga at this point.

No mention is made in the TV episode of the Beardsley's history, their grandfather Hector, or the family business in arms sales and gun running.

Steed's maximum TV auction bid is 250,000 and another 24 from his own wallet. Nsonga bids 250,000 but has an extra 53 in his wallet. In the radio series, just five years later, the bids reach 300,000 before Nsonga tops them by 10,000. That's inflation for you!

The TV version of the second demonstration does not end with Tara feigning death; instead she runs after Conrad, knocking him unconscious before then hiding in the woods surrounding the house. Steed, having prevented her being shot by one of Adriana's men, follows her into the trees.

It is Steed, on his own, who sets up the explosive in the hut (in the TV episode). After he has got out and sets the fuse alight, Tara unknowingly goes into the hut and is trapped there by Conrad, who handcuffs her to a box of FF70s. Conrad then goes back outside and runs into Steed, drawing a knife on the agent during their fight. Conrad falls on this knife in the course of the fight, so Steed has just enough time to go back in the hut and get Tara out before the place explodes.

In the TV version, Colonel Nsonga does not get away - he just happens to be walking near the hut with Lady Beardsley when the explosion occurs, and is killed by a bullet set off in the blast.

The radio adaption ends with Steed and Mrs. Peel going off to search the Beardsley's cellar for champagne. In the TV episode, Steed gets a special gift from the president of Nsonga's country - we never see it, but it sounds suspiciously like a lion!

by Alys Hayes

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