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REVIEW "LOVE ALL"

Love All Unfortunately, Love All was never going to be one of the best scripts to adapt the sound medium for Springbok Radio; not only are aspects of it very visual (notably the switch which Martha makes between slovenly cleaning lady and colourful Sixties glamour-puss), but in the first half of the story there is very little in terms of dialogue for Steed and his faithful sidekick to give our heroes much of a presence on the South African airwaves. It's a very plot driven story indeed, but thankfully has many lighter elements which one associates with the excesses of Season 5. However, while a variation of the terrible tag scene is retained (and indeed slightly improved upon), for some bizarre reason one of the cuts made to the televised version is the lovely moment where the Casanova Ink villains fall under the spell of Steed and his amour-inducing waistcoat. A shame.

There are numerous little changes from the filmed version which most are familiar with. The 'Danger - Men at Work' sign is merely a pointer to Mother's HQ with no man-hole involved, and Mother is busy beating Emma at table-tennis rather than playing cricket with Rhonda. The two brisk bowler-hatted guards at the Ministry are drawn very differently - far more gaw' blimey with accents ranging from the Albert Square to the Bullring - and happy to compare goings on to Hamlet. Sir Rodney Kellogg dramatically hurls himself through plate glass window in his office (beyond the budget of the TV screen one suspects) and there is a very good extra sequence of Steed establishing his innocence of murder by having him attempt to load Martha's gun. By retaining the originally scripted notion of Rosemary Z. Glade being a man, there's a nice little scene between the pseudonymous author and Steed at Casanova Ink, but we are robbed of the wacky notion of a trash-fiction generating piano.

As always, the narration is most enjoyable with Hugh Rouse's interjections raising a smile at moments where he objects to using the word "gooey" and on the final cliff-hanger where he acidly remarks "That kind of love isn't just blind - it's plain daft!" The crude polyphonic synth music used to underscore the action popples along in the background, and is by turns an charming piece of period kitsch and also intensely irritating (and somewhat inappropriate in comparison with some of the others shows where it is employed). There are also some sloppy moments of continuity (Sir Rodney becomes Sir Robert at one point in the fourth instalment).

Donald Monat's Steed is as good as ever - a worthy substitute for Lord Patrick - and his plummy tones have a real presence, particularly in the closing episodes. Diane Appleby again fails to make any true stamp on the role of Emma Peel - although with this script it's understandable. At first, it seems the transition from the televised Tara King to sound-only Mrs Peel has worked rather well; Emma's character shows more world-wise experience and authority when she voices the notion that Sir Rodney's strange actions are motivated by passion in comparison to the lovelorn, doe-eyed, naive teenager which Tara is portrayed as in the original. However, Emma hammering on the door of the locked ministry office in the fifth episode sounds all wrong ... as is her falling for Bromfield which should give a sharp contrast to her normal behaviour, which would be a rather sinister change. Unfortunately, it doesn't come off.

Many of the failings lie with the script being suitable for a televisual Tara King outing, but having great difficulties when being bludgeoned to fit an audio Emma Peel adventure. Although still enjoyable, Mr. Monat and Ms. Appleby had far better escapades than this one.

Reviewed by Andrew Pixley