Escape in Time (Remake) is being slotted into the
schedule as a special favour for Barbara Peterson, the kind soul who supplied us with a recording
of Episode Three of this story. Previously, only Episodes One and Two were known to exist, from an
unknown source. Thanks to Barbara, half of this serial can now be restored by us and preserved in
the SABC Sound Archive.
The first two episodes are quite interesting, in that the recordings are the only remaining
Avengers episodes not to be sourced from off-air transmissions. Where all other episodes are
home recordings, these are sourced from the original studio tapes. In both cases, there is no end
music, and on occasion, narrator Hugh Rouse can be heard introducing the episode and reading his
introductory piece with no musical accompaniment. An interesting document of the recording sessions.
Barbara's episode was recorded in South Africa on compact cassette from the broadcast of the series,
and of all the home recordings existing of The Avengers, this is the first found beyond the
mammoth haul donated to Avengers on the Radio by John Wright.
The sound quality varies between the two sources - the studio sourced Episodes One and Two being
clean but somewhat tinny (to the extent where certain sounds distort, unfortunately), while
Episode Three has a better range but has more background hum and hiss. We have treated both to
give them similar characteristics.
On 3rd September, initial work on the first two episodes was peformed. Using a CD kindly supplied
to us by Donald Monat, we dubbed analogue to another CD, treating the signal with graphic
equalisation, to give the episodes a warmer sound. Treble response was reduced slightly, while
bass was significantly upped. Then, dubbing direct from Barbara's cassette (thanks for trusting
us with your original, Barbara!), we performed a similar operation on Episode Three, adjusting the
graphic sliders to roughly approximate the 'new' sound of the preceding episodes. Working from the
newly created CDR discs, all episodes were then transferred to computer in CD quality (44.1KHz
sampling rate, 16 bit resolution) on the next evening. Episode Three required patching, as the
very beginning of the episode is absent on Barbara's cassette. This was an easy operation,
taking the section from the cliffhanger climax of Episode Two - and the join is pretty seamless.
Noise reduction and further minor (digital) graphic equalisation was then performed on the files
on the evening of Thursday 5th September. Episodes One and Two (being treated as a single file at
this point) were pretty much noise-free in any case, and only a small amount of attention was
required. Episode Three needed a large amount of hiss and hum removal - this was reduced by 22.5dB.
This is perhaps more than we would normally wish to apply, but it was necessary to make the episode
sit well with the other two. All three episodes now sounded very good, even before the final
phase of the restoration was underway.
Declicking on the Episode One/Two file began on Friday 6th September and is now completed. The
distortion has being dealt with at this stage, by declicking all the peaks in the distorted
sound... The results are more than acceptable, even if the going was slower than a snail's pace.
But it's worth the extra time and effort.
While performing the manual declick on Episodes One and Two, it was noticed that there was some
print through evident from a previous recording. This is at a low level, but is noticeable during
quiet passages. We have been able to replace this in many instances with ambient sound from
elsewhere in the episodes. There are also sections where this print through is clear behind the
actors' voices, etc, and in these incidences, we were unfortunately unable to remove the offending
sounds, as the operation was deemed too awkward. We have ensured that in each instance where we have
substituted ambient noise over print through, the replacement silence is of the same duration as the
original, meaning the episode running times remain as they should be.
Declicking of Episode Three has now been completed, and we've taken the opportunity to address some
of the more noticeable drop outs on this recording. These have been dealt with using a combination
of graphic equalisation and amplification.
with these episodes was to preserve Episodes One and Two in their original form as an incomplete
studio recording. Beyond that, we have also reconstructed them, adding end themes, etc, etc, to
produce an "as broadcast" version.
Work on this serial was completed on Sunday 15th September 2002.
Alan and Alys Hayes