Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Adam Adamant

When I was ten or eleven, I loved watching ‘The Avengers’, at the time when Emma Peel was collaborating with John Steed. The combination of clever stories and comedy appealed to me then, and it still does. So it was only natural that I took a keen interest in BBC TV’s attempt to compete with ‘The Avengers’, a 1966-67 series called ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’

The premise is familiar to Austin Powers fans. A daring adventurer is cryogenically frozen by an evil mastermind and wakes up, many years later, to continue the good fight whilst acclimatising to the extraordinary changes in society while he has been asleep. Adam Adamant is an ultra-gallant Edwardian swashbuckler, played straight-faced by Gerald Harper, who in 1902 is betrayed by his lover and put into suspended animation by his sinister adversary, ‘The Face’. He wakes up in 1966 to be confronted by the London of the Swinging Sixties. Bewildered, he is befriended by the lovely Juliet Harmer, whose adoration he doesn’t exactly reciprocate.

Thanks to the wonders of satellite television, I’ve finally seen the first episode, forty two years after I first saw it. It was tremendous fun, from the melodramatic James Bond style theme song belted out by Kathy Kirby – a big name in those days – to Harper’s odd combination of prudishness and elegant violence.

The series wasn’t as good as ‘The Avengers’. The scripts were patchy, although sometimes very clever and rather witty, but the production values were inferior and the show inevitably suffered by comparison. But viewed today, it has an additional layer of appeal – the Swinging Sixties seem almost as remote to us now as 1902 did to Juliet Harmer. The first episode, at least, is well worth watching if you ever get the chance.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I really appreciate your mention of British series that may be on DVD here. A great summer treat.

Julia Buckley said...

I'm with you, Martin. I loved the Avengers. I preferred Emma Peel to Tara King, and Steed was, of course, the only Steed.

I'll have to check out the Adamant concept.

Martin Edwards said...

The ingenuity of the storylines of 'The Avengers' was a strong part of its appeal. Very Sixties. And it was a show that reeked of class ('Adam Adamant' could probably have benefited from a bigger budget.) As to Emma Peel, I couldn't agree more, Julia - far better than Tara!