Day: April 12, 2019

The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball – The New Avengers – tape 808

First on this tape, The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball. I think this was the third Amnesty International comedy and music revue.

It’s a veritable who’s who of comedy in the 80s, plus some classics. It opens with the Parrot Sketch. Except “Here’s your money back, plus a few holiday vouchers.” “Well you can’t say Thatcher hasn’t changed anything.”

Prince Edward is helping out backstage.

Lenny Henry talks about catflaps.

More backstage puppetry, and I can’t tell if John Cleese is doing the voice for his own puppet – it’s very good.

He’s talking to Ade Edmondson

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore do the Tarzan Audition

There’s the Pope/Michelangelo sketch with John Cleese as the Pope

And Ade Edmondson as Michelangelo

The Spitting Image Royal Family.

Willy Rushton performs Irving Berlin’s Top Hat.

With Richard Vranch on the piano.

More behind the scenes fun.

More from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

Lenny Henry sings a comedy song.

Michael Palin does the argument sketch with a guest appearance from Dawn French

Plus Chris Langham

before finally ending with John Cleese

Prince Edward and Andrew Lloyd Webber

The National Theatre of Brent. I always remember Patrick Barlow

But I always forget that the other member is Jim Broadbent.

Revolting chocolates, with Lenny Henry and Jimmy Mulville

and Robbie Coltrane

French and Saunders do some improvisation

Backstage with John Cleese and Jeffrey Archer

Ben Elton returns to stand-up to apologise for doing Wogan.

The whole cast are on stage for a rendition of ‘Goodbye’.

After this, recording switches, and there’s a bit of 70s action with The New AvengersThe Last of the Cybernauts…??.

I don’t remember specific episodes of The New Avengers although I did watch and enjoy it. I didn’t know much about the Old Avengers, because as far as I was concerned, none of them were actually Avengers because where’s Captain America, but I did enjoy it, and being of a certain age I retain a deep, abiding affection for Joanna Lumley. Not so much for Gareth Hunt, for some reason.

It’s Steed’s Birthday. Which is interrupted by a man staggering in to the party and giving them vital information about a double agent.

Cue a big car chase with great 70s cars.

It even ends with a collision with a randomly parked petrol tanker, and a huge explosion.

Robert Gillespie appears, playing an engineer in prison, who’s picked up as he’s released.

Oscar Quitak looked familiar – he played the scientist in A Very British Coup who was murdered by the security services.

Gillespie is brought to a place devoted to the Avengers.

His host is Felix Kane, the double-agent at the start who ran into the petrol tanker, and now, a year later, he’s in a wheelchair and his scarred face is hidden under a creepy mask.

Steed plays a Stylophone. I don’t quite understand what this non sequitur is doing in the show.

Kane locates where the Cybernauts were buried, and brings one back.

I have to say, watching this again, it’s easy to see why we all fell in love with Joanna Lumley. Her Purdey is utterly brilliant. She’s smart, strong, a brilliant fighter, and most impressive of all, doesn’t punch Gareth Hunt in the face constantly despite his frankly appalling lechery. If she were a character on TV today she’d probably be derided as a Mary Sue, but in the innocent days of the 1970s we were perfectly happy to accept her as a kick-ass hero. Just like in the 60s with Diana Rigg.

This episode (although I had no idea when it first went out) is a sequel to two episodes from the original run of the The Avengers – Emma Peel herself is mentioned. This meant nothing to a teenage me, but I can see it would have been terribly exciting to fans of the original.

After this, Evadne Fisher of Thames introduces Sports World Extra featuring boxing and speedboats.

Then, an ITN bulletin, and remember, a few days ago I mentioned the MP Ian Gow, talking about Northern Ireland on a news report earlier in the year? Well this bulletin leads with news of tributes to him as he’s been killed in an IRA bomb attack.

After this bulletin, there’s the start of a film, What’s The Matter With Helen? and the tape ends during this.

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