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Spy-Fi and Telefantasy - The British Adventure Series of the 1960s and 70s

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During the 1960s and early 1970s, one of the most popular television genres worldwide was the British Adventure series, also labelled as 'spy-fi', 'action', 'pop' and 'telefantasy'. These different shows share similar stylistic values, embracing a pop1 art, fantastic approach. In these, it was perfectly possible for an Edwardian gentleman to be living in Swinging Sixties London, or for London to be populated by gentlemen holding umbrellas beneath their bowler hats, accompanied by women wearing leather and driving fast cars. Secret agents were given super powers, detectives could return from the dead and bored millionaire playboys would spend their spare time fighting crime. Indeed, this format was flexible enough to encompass family dramas about a time-travelling alien working as a scientific advisor for an international intelligence taskforce and even children's shows, including one about a priest who turns into a puppet.

I Spy

Spy drama has long been popular in Britain. Before the Great War, the spy literary genre began with Riddle of the Sands (1903), followed by the popular novels of John Buchan and Herman 'Sapper' McNeile2. During the lead up to the Second World War the spy thriller dominated British cinema. Films released in 1939 included Spy for a Day, The Spy in Black, Spies of the Air and Traitor Spy. Alfred Hitchcock finely honed the genre with films such as The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Foreign Correspondent (1940) and Saboteur (1942). Hitchcock continued making spy films when in Hollywood, the pinnacle of which being North by Northwest (1959).

By the time of the Cold War, television too became dominated by spy fiction, while authors including Ian Fleming, who wrote the James Bond novels from 1953 to '65, Len Deighton3, and John le Carré continued to write novels that inspired both television and film. It is perhaps unsurprising that spies were popular on television in a period in which spies were making the news. Though Britain's intelligence organisations had been highly efficient against Nazi Germany, breaking their codes and uncovering their spies, against Communist Russia they were a shambles. It was revealed that the highest echelons had been penetrated by traitors Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean and later by Harold 'Kim' Philby and George Blake. In 1963 the Profumo affair was about the Secretary of State involved with a teenage girl who was also seeing a Soviet naval attaché. In 1968 it was revealed that the British ambassador in Moscow had been approached by blackmailers with compromising photographs.

British Television

In the early 1960s, there were two television channels in Britain, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) which paid for services through funds raised by an annual licence fee, and the commercial ITV (Independent Television) which consisted of numerous regional companies, initially divided into weekend and midweek broadcasters. The main regional companies were Associated-Rediffusion, Granada and ABC4. The television company that most strongly embraced the Adventure Series format was ATV (Associated Television) through its subsidiary ITC (Incorporated Television Company). This company was owned by Lew Grade and had been denied permission by regulating body the Independent Television Authority for gaining a broadcasting region, but was allowed to supply television programmes to the other companies. Following the swashbuckling The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955), it began making programmes to be shown in both Britain and America.

On the whole, top-level staff at the BBC were dismissive of the Adventure Series, preferring one-off plays and costume dramas. When the BBC did dabble in the genre, largely against their will and because of its undoubted popularity, they typically ensured the shows were filmed on videotape rather than film. The programmes received little publicity in BBC publications such as the Radio Times, which led to lower viewing figures than might otherwise have been the case. Even when the BBC co-produced the popular Paul Temple with German television channel ZDF they were uncomfortable; Director for Television Huw Weldon cancelled it prematurely on the grounds that it wasn't a costume drama.


The British adventure series had several key recurring themes, although not every one would be present in every show:

  • A central hero who investigates evil and defeats it.

  • The hero's character is unimpeachable, with morality usually clearly defined as black and white.

  • The hero is usually British, but may occasionally be American.

  • The hero has an upper class or similar privileged background.

  • The hero may be a crime-writer who solves crimes in their spare time.

  • The hero may have an old-fashioned, typically Edwardian, dress sense. In addition, clothes worn in the shows are likely to be highly fashionable. The designers may even receive a credit in the titles.

  • The hero may work for an official national or international intelligence organisation, often referred to by its initials (BISHOP, NATO, NEMESIS, UNIT, etc).

  • The hero may instead simply be an upstanding private citizen. These might also occasionally be called on by official national organisations to help their country, especially in the hunt for potential traitors.

  • The hero may be accompanied by a capable and/or brave young, trendy female.

  • Instead of a solitary hero, there may be an official investigative team, normally consisting of two men and a woman.

  • The evil investigated is usually part of a plot by an evil megalomaniac, agents of a corrupt foreign (often Communist) power or violent criminal gang.

  • The hero will have a distinctive car, almost certainly British, but either old-fashioned or the latest sporty model.

These shows were not limited to the traditional confines of the spy genre, but also encompassed the private investigator genre. Some, including early episodes of The Avengers, were also heavily influenced by film noir and even German expressionist cinema. Though many heroes were indeed professional spies, others were private investigators or independent amateurs, gentlemen rescuing damsels in distress who were caught up in events by accident.

The British Adventure Series pushed the boundaries of what could be shown on television. The Avengers was the first programme to show a woman as the physical equal of a man and, when shown on television in America, many of the episodes were initially considered too risqué to be broadcast5.

By 1960s standards, positive, prominent authority-figure roles were given to under-represented groups. The Avengers featured the head of the department character of Mother, who was in a wheelchair and the head of Department S, Sir Curtis Seretse, was black. True, the vast majority of characters were white and perfect physical specimens, but it represented a significant, though small, step in the right direction for British television.

Role of Women

In spy films such as James Bond, women are there to look attractive, be endangered, scream, and once rescued become the hero's 'reward'. How were the British Adventure Series different?

In The Avengers, the two main female leads, Catherine Gale and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), are women of the world, both widows who are experienced and more than capable of looking after themselves, capable of defeating men6. The character of Mrs Gale had lived in exotic locations, earned a university doctorate and survived the Mau Mau uprising that claimed the life of her husband. In American shows of the time, such as The Girl from UNCLE, the lead female is a girl, not a woman, and one incapable of defending herself or fighting any enemy. Part of Cathy Gale's appeal came from the fact that her lines and actions in her earliest scripts had been written for a man7. She wasn't deferential when speaking to Steed and was tougher than any villains they faced. This instantly differentiated her character from all other heroines then on television, allowing her to play her role with greater depth.

Women are the weakness of resurrected crime fighter Adam Adamant from Adam Adamant Lives!, an Edwardian crime fighter frozen in 1902 and resurrected in the Swinging Sixties. His Edwardian values regarding the fair sex have blinkered him from ever conceiving that a woman may possibly be up to no good. Even his fiancée's treachery and the fact that in each adventure he is betrayed by a woman fail to shake this conviction, which in his Louise's words make him 'Oh so vulnerable'.

Patrick McGoohan, the star of Danger Man and The Prisoner, had strong religious views and was opposed to having his characters flirt with and become involved with women. For The Saint, a character based on the character created by Leslie Charteris in 1929, a more traditional, chivalrous approach was adopted. Women were invariably in trouble and romantically rescued. On the whole there was no suggestion in these spy stories of the serial sexual conquests that would define Bond. Indeed, one late 1960s television series would even be titled Virgin of the Secret Service. Instead of the sexually tilted names in Bond films such as Pussy Galore, Honey Rider and Plenty O'Toole, Paul Temple featured a girl called Steve.

Although it is true there was usually only one recurring female character per series at any one time, on the whole the gender roles were beginning to be pushed and stretched further than before.

Role of Men

The role of men is also an interesting topic. Although many were typical physical 'hero' characters, violent with villains and loving the ladies, such as Simon Templar and Brett Sinclair (both played by Roger Moore), there were also other masculine roles.

In both Danger Man and The Prisoner, the lead actor is not interested in romance. Similarly Adam Adamant has a gentlemanly demeanour, personifying Victorian and Edwardian values. John Steed in The Avengers is a man who is less physical than his female companions, often described as a modern-day dandy. While his female companions use their physical prowess and martial arts techniques to defeat their opponents, Steed stands back, avoids getting into physical confrontations and prefers to use his umbrella and hat. Unlike James Bond, who showed in Doctor No that he does not hesitate to shoot first, Patrick Macnee stated that he felt strongly that Steed should not carry a gun, though he would be prepared to use someone else's if need be to defend himself.

Perhaps the most extreme male hero character was Jason King. Though painfully chauvinistic, he was a man who in Department S was regularly defeated by his enemies and was best known for his preposterous wardrobe.


The British Adventure Series phenomenon began before the cinematic creation of James Bond in 1962 with Dr No, but were part of the same cultural phenomenon. The most popular shows, Danger Man, The Avengers and The Saint, all were made before Dr No was released. These were not afraid to take advantage of the success of the Bond films, just as the Bond genre exploited popular aspects and actors of the television genre, adapting them for its purposes. Like Bond, their popularity was not adversely affected by Cold War paranoia, yet instead could be seen to reassure viewers that trustworthy spies in bowler hats were fighting the Cold War. After all, if a spy like Steed was happy now and then to have relaxing chats with his Communist opposition over a glass of vodka, things could not be so bad.

Universal Exports

These television series were often made in Britain with the intention of selling them abroad, especially to America. Indeed, the popularity of British television, film and especially music in America in the mid-1960s was nicknamed 'the British invasion'. In 1965, following the box office success of Goldfinger, Danger Man was shown on CBS, The Saint on NBC, and The Baron on America's ABC, gaining ITC $10 million. In 1966 The Avengers followed; at the height of its popularity The Avengers was being broadcast in 40 different countries, while The Saint was broadcast in 80 countries worldwide. Indeed, while most British television was still being made cheaply on videotape, British Adventure Series were made on film despite the additional cost in order to meet American production values and to be usable with both Europe's PAL television system and North America's NTSC. Adventure serials were often filmed in colour in order to appeal to American television networks, even though colour broadcasting did not begin in Britain until 1967 on BBC2 following trials in 1966, with ITV not broadcasting in colour until 1969. They were converted to black and white for home and Commonwealth consumption.

Lord Lew Grade's success at exporting British television series led to his being awarded a knighthood and peerage while his company, ITC, twice gained the Queen's Award to Industry in 1967 and 1969. Perhaps the ultimate export was The Champions. Though made in Britain in 1967, it was broadcast in America, Japan and Australia long before it finally found its way onto television in the UK in 1969.

Just as five of the first eight Bond films featured Bond's American equal, Felix Leiter8, many involved key American characters, showing how Britain and America were standing together shoulder-to-shoulder. In Danger Man, Drake initially works not for Britain but for NATO. The hero of Man in a Suitcase is an American.

Later shows, including Department S and Man in a Suitcase, became more focused on trying to hook the American dollar and began to cast American actors in starring roles. The Baron even changed the titular Baron of John Creasey's novels from an English aristocrat to an American cattle baron. ITC employed script editors to ensure that the dialogue would not be too confusing for American audiences to follow, so that characters said 'gas' not 'petrol', 'elevator' not 'lift', etc. Generally, the more Americanised the show, the less successful it was both in America and Britain. After all, American television networks were already full of American programmes with Americans in starring roles; it was the unique Britishness of shows like The Avengers, the first British series to be given an American primetime slot, that was their appeal. Indeed Danger Man, known in America as Secret Agent, was a show that had begun with Drake working internationally for NATO, but was changed to become more British in focus, working for Department M9 of the British Secret Service.

It was not only America that the genre was exported to. The television show Paul Temple was co-produced between the BBC and West German television's ZDF, the first example of an international television co-production series. Episodes were filmed and set in many different European countries in order to encourage as many countries as possible to show it.

Influence on American Television

The British Adventure Series, like the James Bond films, strongly influenced American television. America too had its spy-influenced adventure series, notably The Man From UNCLE (1964-8), spoof Get Smart (1965-9), Mission: Impossible (1966-73) and even pop camp superhero Batman9 (1966-8). The popularity of Cathy Gale and Emma Peel in The Avengers led to the creation of Honey West (1965-6).

The Man From UNCLE (1964-8) was perhaps the closest in style, featuring an international organisation, but with a British head, Mr Waverly, and co-starring a British actor, David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin. Spin-off The Girl From UNCLE (1966-7) also co-starred a British agent, Mark Slate, played by Noel Harrison. Ian Fleming had been involved in the creation of both shows.

Just as The Man From UNCLE had been influenced by British cinema and television, British television in turn was influenced by its success. The Man From UNCLE and The Girl From UNCLE were more popular in the UK than they had been in America, as the BBC broadcast Man and Girl in alternate weeks and cinematic films were made of the two-part adventures. The success of these in cinemas led to The Saint making two films out of its two-part stories, and the last two episodes of Danger Man were similarly released into cinemas in some countries. When broadcast on the BBC in 1965, The Man From UNCLE's high ratings encouraged the commissioning of adventure show Adam Adamant Lives!. Curiously The Man From UNCLE was dedicated to fighting the evils of THRUSH, but with the American network initially afraid of the connotations, this was renamed WASP in the pilot episode. However by the time the series was fully commissioned this had been reverted back to THRUSH, as WASP was the organisation used in Stingray10. Both The Avengers and The Man from UNCLE became noticeably more stylishly bizarre as they progressed. Following The Man From UNCLE, Robert Vaughn was whisked across the Atlantic to star in British Adventure Series The Protectors.

Influence on Other Series

It was not just American television series that were heavily influenced by the success of the British; the Supermarionation puppet shows of Gerry Anderson were strongly influenced by them. In Thunderbirds, the characters of Lady Penelope and Parker often act as secret agents. They have the gadgets, the distinctive car11, Lady Penelope has the correct aristocratic background and the plots often involve typical spy drama. Joe 90 took this one step further, as it involved a child superspy. Then came The Secret Service, a half-puppet, half live-action show about a vicar who works as a spy. When Gerry Anderson put the puppets down, it was no surprise that his second live-action show, The Protectors, was a bona fide British Adventure Series.

Doctor Who

Another influenced show was Doctor Who. By 1970, the cost of creating an alien planet, complete with sets and alien costumes, was considered too high and it was decided to keep the Doctor on Earth. The Adventure Series format was quickly adopted for Jon Pertwee's Doctor, especially during 1970-2 and occasionally after. Like Steed in The Avengers, the Doctor now worked for international organisation UNIT, drove an old car, dressed in Edwardian fashions, and reported to a superior, in this case Brigadier Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Like Steed the Doctor had glamorous assistants; Doctor Liz Shaw, Jo Grant and Sarah-Jane Smith could be considered the equivalents of Dr Cathy Gale, Tara King and Emma Peel. For the seventh series, the TARDIS police box exterior is only seen in the opening story, 'Spearhead From Space'. This story was entirely made on film rather than videotape and so looks as glossy as any Adventure show of the era.

The Adventure Series style had been used for occasional Second Doctor stories, including 'The Faceless Ones', 'The Web of Fear' and 'The Invasion'. It would continue to influence later writers, such as the Tom Baker stories 'Robot' and 'Terror of the Zygons'. The format continues to inspire in the 21st Century; Matt Smith episode 'The Crimson Horror' starred Dame Diana Rigg and the Doctor wore a bowler hat, just like that worn by John Steed. Jenny Flint wore an Avengers-style catsuit and defeated the men fighting against her.

Influence on Bond

By the early 1970s, the James Bond films began to introduce traits pioneered in British Adventure Series. Most notably, of course, was the cast; not only was Roger Moore, star of The Saint and The Persuaders!, cast as Bond, key Bond girls were played by Avengers stars Honor Blackman12 and Diana Rigg. In the 1970s, from Diamonds Are Forever until Moonraker, the Bond films increased the amount of humour, reflecting the change that had occurred as the Avengers series had developed. Just as Steed's boss 'Mother' began to have his headquarters in odd places, such as on the top deck of a double-decker bus, M began to do the same, for instance having an office in a sunk ocean liner.


The most successful of these shows, The Avengers and Danger Man, evolved considerably during their tenure. The Avengers began as a hard-hitting, realistic drama about a police surgeon who wishes to avenge his fiancée's murder when she is mistakenly caught up in drug smuggling. The surgeon, Dr David Keel, was played by Ian Hendry soon after he had played a similar character in a series called Police Surgeon; he is initially aided by a mysterious trench-coated undercover agent, fighting common crimes like smuggling, murder and blackmail. This agent, John Steed, evolves into a debonair and stylish gentleman who wears Savile Row suits and drives a vintage Bentley. His partners change from the conservative Dr Keel to young, fashionable and, most importantly, highly capable women Cathy Gale and Emma Peel. These partners are very much Steed's equals, with Cathy revolutionarily becoming the first female character seen on television able to fight and defeat men.

Other series evolved too, changing not only characters but even the names of the shows; Man of the World became The Sentimental Agent and Department S evolved into Jason King, concentrating on the earlier series' most popular character.

Perhaps the character of Drake played by Patrick McGoohan in Danger Man evolves even more. Not only did the series adapt first to longer episodes, then to film and finally to colour, complete with a Goldfinger-style theme tune in America, perhaps the most startling transformation occurred after Danger Man officially finished. As soon as Danger Man ended, members of the cast and crew made The Prisoner. There is a strong debate about whether the unnamed 'Number Six' of The Prisoner is meant to be John Drake; the possibility that he might be is intriguing.


As part of the pop movement, appearance and fashion was all important, especially how the characters looked. This expressed itself through the clothes worn and cars driven. The shows created fashions, such as the 'Emmapeeler' catsuit and the 'Purdey bob', a hairstyle named after New Avengers character Purdey, played by Joanna Lumley. In The Avengers, Patrick Macnee's clothes were designed by Pierre Cardin, and Honor Blackman's clothes had been designed by Frederick Starke, former director of the London Fashion House. The London Fashion House received prominent billing for clothes design for Danger Man. For The Persuaders!, the character Brett Sinclair's clothes were credited as having been designed by the actor Roger Moore, while Diana Rigg designed her own 'Queen of Sin' costume in The Avengers episode called 'A Touch of Brimstone' and Patrick Macnee designed Steed's suits for the final series.

The importance of wardrobe can be seen when Emma Peel's character was announced in Kinematograph Weekly, which stated:

When production [on 'The Avengers'] began last December, ABC Television were at first requested by American television stations who were interested in the series to keep the dressing of Emma Peel as close as possible to that of Cathy Gale in the earlier 'Avengers' because it was felt that the leather look was in the ascendant in America. ABC would have preferred to keep further ahead of fashion... but agreed to retain the leather image for the time being. However the radical swing in world fashion this year made it obvious that changes would have to be made in Emma Peel's wardrobe... exchanging the leather look for something more avant-garde and in keeping with Diana's witty personality.

Diana Rigg was also reportedly the first woman on television to wear the ultimate '60s fashion, the miniskirt. Producer Brian Clemens said:

I went to Paris and saw the [1965] Courrèges fashion show, where the miniskirt was invented13... We had to decide whether we were going to put Diana Rigg in a miniskirt, in episodes which would not be seen for several months, by which time the miniskirt might have failed. It was a long, hard decision, but we took it, and of course it paid off.


Just like the James Bond cars, in the British Adventure Series cars played a prominent part. The young, trendy Mrs Peel drives a Lotus   Élan. The more traditional gentleman Mr Steed was particularly fond of old Bentleys, a trait shared not only by Bond as seen briefly in From Russia With Love but also Bulldog Drummond. This is a habit also shared by the Third Doctor, who drove an old roadster he named 'Bessie'.

Personalised number plates are also a must-have item. Bessie's number plate is WHO 1. Adam Adamant drove a Mini Cooper S numbered AA1000. Simon Templar of The Saint used the number plate ST1. Similarly, the character of Brett Sinclair drove an Aston Martin DBS with number plate BS1. In Return of the Man From UNCLE, George Lazenby's character's Aston Martin DB5 has the number plate 'JB'.

In The Saint, the car driven, shockingly, is not British. In Roger Moore's autobiography My Word is My Bond he explains:

That all came about during pre-production, when we discussed what sort of car Simon Templar should drive. The general consensus was that it should be a Jaguar. I said that whatever car we had, I'd buy one as well – hoping for a favourable deal, naturally – so we'd have two... Johnny Goodman, our production manager, placed a call to Jaguar in Coventry and explained that we were setting up a new TV series and required two cars.

'When do you need them, Mr Goodman?' 'Next week,' Johnny replied.

'Oh we couldn't possibly do that,' came the reply. 'There's a six-month waiting list!'

'Yes, but this is for a television series,' added Johnny, 'that will be sold all around the world. Think of the wonderful publicity it will generate.' 'Publicity?' said Jaguar. 'What do we need publicity for? We have £250-million-worth of orders that we can't possibly fill as it is.'

Shortly after, Volvo were delighted to provide two Volvo P1800s to the team, with new models to replace them each year. When Return of the Saint was made, Jaguar ensured that they provided the car and number plate 'ST1'.

The End of the Adventure

After a decade of dominating the television, in the early 1970s the British Adventure Series began to fizzle out. Tastes changed and as it had for so long personified pop, as soon as fashions changed at the end of the decade, the Adventure Series was left behind. British audiences began to demand more gritty, realistic programming, such as The Professionals14. Partly as a result of this, George Lazenby refused to sign a seven-film contract to play Bond, believing that the cinematic spy had had his day also.

Cost to Make

A major advantage of the Adventure Series in the 1960s for Britain's independent television companies had been that they were cheap to make, yet glossy and polished enough to sell worldwide and make a profit. Roger Moore wrote:

The lovely thing about 'The Saint' was that our stories were often set in wonderful and glamorous countries. Television productions in those days, however, didn't have the vast budgets necessary, nor the schedules available, to actually film in those places, so we'd make British locations 'double' for more exotic foreign ones, which were not always entirely convincing. By wheeling out the odd plastic palm tree, affixing false car number plates and slapping up a caption across the bottom of the screen, the Elstree back-lot and surrounds would become France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland or even the Bahamas... Ah, you say, don't they drive on the opposite side of the road in those countries? Yes, they do. That wasn't a problem for us, either, as we simply flipped the film in the camera. Borehamwood High Street could have been anywhere.

I used to hate the thought of shooting on the back-lot and longed for days when I might be on location for real: those days came with 'The Persuaders!' and oh, how I missed being able to drive home at night. Actors are never content, you'll find.

By the end of the decade, audiences were beginning to expect that a story set in, say, France, to actually be filmed in France. In 1962 an episode of The Saint had cost ITC £25,000, by 1970 an episode of The Persuaders! cost £80,000. It was perhaps inevitable that television companies would prefer to make cheaper series instead.

Attempts were made to make filming cheaper. These included returning to more studio-based shows, making half-an-hour episodes rather than an hour and instead of filming on high-quality 35mm film, using inferior but cheaper 16mm filmstock instead. These, though, were seen by audiences as retrograde steps and American studios lost interest in purchasing what they felt were inferior shows. ITC abandoned the adventure serial format; by the end of the '70s Lew Grade was exploring other formats such as The Muppet Show and moving from television into film making.

Revival Attempts

Some shows tried to adapt, such as The New Avengers (1976-7) and Return of the Saint (1978-9), which starred Ian Ogilvy, a Roger Moore lookalike. Curiously, the more modern, gritty and realistic the shows became, the more old-fashioned they appear now. Steed driving a vintage Bentley in an England populated by fantasy crackpot characters is timeless; Steed driving a Range Rover while thwarting the plots of Cold War spies is dated.

Yet the team behind The New Avengers found that in the 1970s it was now too expensive to make. Even filming in Canada could not keep the cost down enough to make the series financially viable.

Since then there have been numerous attempts to revive old favourites. Hollywood film versions have been released, of both The Saint and The Avengers, although in both cases the film adaptations missed what made the series in the first place. In the early 21st Century Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), one of the less successful shows in the genre, was remade as Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (2000-1) and unlike the original did well enough to warrant a second series. A remake of The Prisoner was made in 2009.

Perhaps the greatest legacy is that the genre continues to influence others today. This can be seen in the many shows in which either a professional spy, gentleman of leisure or private investigator with a quirk investigate sinister goings on, such as Sherlock and the sadly short-lived Dirk Gently. The genre has also influenced American television in the 21st Century, including Pushing Daisies, in which the main character can bring the dead back to life in order to investigate crimes, similar to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) or Austin Powers who was strongly influenced by Adam Adamant, the resurrected crime fighter.

List of British Adventure Series:

Adam Adamant Lives!29x50 minute episodes1966-7BBC
The Adventurer26x30-minute episodes1972-3ITC
The Avengers161x50-minute episodes1961-9ABC
The New Avengers26x50-minute episodes1976-7The Avengers (Film & TV) Enterprises Ltd
The Baron30x50-minute episodes1965-6ITC
Callan44x60-minute episodes1967-72ABC
The Champions30x50-minute episodes1968-9ITC
Danger Man1539x30-minute & 45x50-minute episodes1960-7ITC
Department S28x50-minute episodes1969-70ITC
The Four Just Men39x30-minute episodes1959ITC
Ghost Squad52x50-minute episodes1961-4ITC
Interpol Calling39x30-minute episodes1959-60Rank
Jason King26x50-minute episodes1971-2ITC
Man in a Suitcase30x50-minute episodes1967-8ITC
Man of the World20x50-minute episodes1962-3ITC
The Man in Room 1726x50-minute episodes1965-7Granada
The Mask of Janus11x50-minute episodes1965BBC
Paul Temple54x60-minute episodes1969-71BBC/ZDF
The Persuaders!24x60-minute episodes1971-2ITC
The Prisoner17x60 minute episodes1967-8ITC
The Protectors52x25-minute episodes1972-4ITC
Public Eye87x50-minute episodes1965-75ABC
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)1626x50-minute episodes1969-70ITC
The Saint118x50-minute episodes1962-9ITC
Return of The Saint24x50-minute episodes1978-9ITC
The Secret Service13x25-minute episodes1969ITC
The Sentimental Agent13x50-minute episodes1963ITC
The Spies15x50-minute episodes1966BBC
Spy-Catcher24x30-minute episodes1959-61BBC
The Third Man77x30-minute episodes1959-65BBC
Top Secret26x50-minute episodes1961-2Associated-Rediffusion
Virgin of the Secret Service13x50 minute episodes1968ATV
Zero One39x30-minute episodes1962BBC

Sadly many episodes of the Adventure Series no longer fully exist, even episodes of popular programmes like The Avengers and Adam Adamant Lives! have been lost from the archives. This loss even affects shows from the late 1960s; for instance only 16 episodes of Paul Temple survive, five of which are only in black and white. However many of the series that were successfully sold overseas still exist and are available to purchase.

1The Avengers took the Pop label seriously, with stars Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman even releasing pop song 'Kinky Boots' in 1964, which became a Number 4 hit in 1990.2Army officer McNeile wrote numerous war and thriller stories from 1915 until his death in 1937 under the pen-name 'Sapper' - the most popular were about the aristocratic Hugh 'Bulldog' Drummond.3Author of the Harry Palmer novels that were adapted into a series of films starring Michael Caine from The Ipress File (1965).4Initially Associated British Cinemas, later Associated British Corporation, not to be confused with the American Broadcasting Company or Australian Broadcasting Corporation etc.5How anyone could possibly have found Mrs Peel dressed as the Queen of Sin objectionable is, to this day, a complete mystery.6In 1965 Honor Blackman's Book of Self Defence was published, the first judo book for women as a tie-in to the success of Cathy Gale from The Avengers.7Strike action prematurely ended the first series of The Avengers and by the time the strike ended, star Ian Hendry had left. The character of Cathy Gale was introduced to replace him but without changing the existing scripts written for Hendry's character.8Felix would then feature in only four of the following 15 official Bonds.9This is referred to in The Avengers episode 'The Winged Crusader'.10For Return of The Man From UNCLE (1983), the head was instead played by Patrick Macnee and also starred a former James Bond, George Lazenby, as 'JB'.11A pink Rolls-Royce with the number plate 'FAB 1'.12Bond film Goldfinger, starring Honor Blackman, resembles Avengers' episode 'The Gilded Cage'. In both, Honor Blackman's character robs a gold repository using a poisonous gas.13Mary Quant is often credited with having invented the miniskirt in 1964, with André Courrèges' show introducing it to the respectable fashion industry. Another claim is that it was invented for 1956 film Forbidden Planet.14Curiously, while British audiences moved away from telefantasy, American audiences embraced more far-fetched adventure shows, such as The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-8), The Bionic Woman (1976-8), The Invisible Man (1975), The Incredible Hulk (1978-82) etc.15Broadcast in America as Secret Agent16Broadcast in America as My Partner The Ghost.

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