Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Protectors

'The Protectors’ was the first Gerry Anderson TV show not to feature puppets or elaborate special effects, and his only non-fantasy show. A fairly standard ITC product, it features international intrigue and action in cosmopolitan climes (mainly Buckinghamshire and Malta, by the looks of it, although Paris and Rome also make appearances).

Former ‘Man from UNCLE’ (and current 'Coronation Street' star) Robert Vaughan stars as smooth Harry Rule, the leader of a mysterious bunch of adventurers and detectives who are there (presumably for a considerable fee, it’s not a cheap operation) when the innocent are in trouble. His right hand woman is the Contessa (Nyree Dawn Porter), a seriously rich Italian lady who is secretly in love with him (the feeling is mutual, but they’re always too busy fighting crime to act upon it). They are supported by handsome, neckerchiefed Frenchman, Paul Buchet (Tony Anholt), and, according to the credits, a mysterious figure in a fedora who I always presumed to be the Boss but whose identity is never revealed.

Only twenty five minutes in length, the episodes avoid some of the languor of the longer format ITC shows, but tend to be slightly chaotic and nonsensical. That said, they can be quite exciting and for lovers of kitsch the fashions, furnishings, cars and back projection are a constant delight. The soundtrack too is cracking – from the fantastic theme song, 'Avenues & Alleyways’, to some really great pieces of library music underscoring the numerous car chase, gun fight, safe cracking and disco sequences. Here's the brilliant Tony Christie performing the song on German telly, doing his best to inject some energy into a perfomance where, inexplicably, the audience are facing the wrong way.

'The Protectors' is a show I always enjoy for all sorts of reasons, and its final disappearance from syndication some time in the nineteen nineties left a daft gap that has never been adequately plugged by other stuff.

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