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Too Many Olés

October 2004

Goodness gracious... When we started work on Too Many Olés back in February, we didn't think we would still be working on it come October! Unfortunately, we got sidetracked, working our way through some reel-to-reel tapes for Kaleidoscope, restoring the soundtracks of otherwise missing British television and radio programmes from 1966. Among these were four episodes of the excellent Public Eye. These required much hard work, as they were not in the best of shape. The good news is that these restorations are highly likely to appear on upcoming DVD releases of the series, issued by Network Video. The even better news - for you - is that this work is now out of the way, and the focus is finally back on The Avengers.

As intimated in May, due to our now having an open reel recorder, we have decided to start afresh, making new dubs from John Wright's original tapes, direct to the computer. These new transfers were performed on Tuesday 26th October 2004 and the gain, although minor, was noticeable over the transfers from the CD dubs made in February. On Wednesday 27th October, we treated the episodes with Sound Forge's Direct X noise reduction filter and removed the worst of the noise (not that it was overly offensive - this story is among the best of John's recordings). This lead us to decide that only minimal graphic equalisation was necessary in this case. Episodes One, Two, Three and Four were declicked on the Wednesday afternoon and evening (and late night!). The final two episodes were declicked and completed on Thursday 28th October.

During the declicking process, it was realised that the were slight problems with Episodes Two and Three. The second features a high-pitched whistle, as if the radio channel drifted slightly off tune during recording. As this was at a high level in the mix, it was decided not to attempt to remove it, as it would have had too detrimental an effect on the remainder of the signal. The third episode was found to be slightly muffled compared to the first two episodes. This we brightened with graphic equalisation, also removing some of the bass, which was a little boomy. A light hiss reduction was performed to remove some of the less welcome results of this process. The fifth episode, as noted in our original notes below, was recorded at a lower recording level than the other five, and this has been remedied with use of the amplification filter and a single pass hiss reduction.

We are aware that 2004 has been pretty barren for the restorations, but we do intend to have at least one more serial issued before the end of the year, in addition to Too Many Olés. The aborted work on the original restoration of Too Many Olés is presented below, for the sake of completeness.

February 2004

Not being superstitious, there actually is a thirteenth restoration! We're not like those architects who design buildings without thirteenth floors... So here we are, at the start of another restoration adventure. But what serial to choose? A look out of the window, and we are greeted by a murky day, grey and wet. What better to lift our spirits than to go to sunnier climes? With work for both of us tomorrow, this is a pipe dream, but we can follow Steed and Mrs. Peel to sunny Spain, joining them in an adventure with Too Many Olés. This serial was based on a script from the last season of The Avengers, entitled They Keep Killing Steed which was originally to have been shot in Spain. The budget didn't stretch to this in the end, so the radio serial gives a decent insight into what might have been on TV. And, to top it all, it's one of our favourite Avengers radio installments.

Work began on the serial on Sunday 1st February, with the CD audio copies of John Wright's off-air tape recording being transferred to the PC. Hold on tight and fasten your seatbelts. AOR will shortly be taking you to Tarragon in sunny Spain!

A late night session on the same day saw all episodes quality checked, spruced up where necessary and noise reduction applied. The overall sound quality is impressive - first impressions are that this should be a straightforward restoration to work on. However, there are two episodes which may present problems. The fifth is recorded at a lower level than the others, meaning that the noise ratio (to the wanted signal) is higher than with other episodes. This was fixed with a higher noise reduction setting. This does not appear to have affected the overall sound unduly. The other problem episode is definitely going to be part four. As we had previously found with The Quick-Quick-Slow Death, the CD disc appears to have become damaged in storage and the episode plays back with constant clicking throughout. Again, this was the last episode on the disc. We fear a faulty batch... At least after our experiences with The Quick-Quick-Slow Death, we know that this is remediable, albeit only care of a lot of work. All episodes were given a light brighten in graphic equalisation and were noise reduced in Sound Forge by between 20dB and 27dB.

Declick/drop-out repair work will commence shortly.

by Alan and Alys Hayes