Big Finish is set to return to the world of The Avengers with a new release based on the classic 1960s TV series – and this time, there’s a star of the original show on board.
Four new full-cast audio adventures – adapted from The Avengers comic strips originally published in TV Comic – will be released in April 2021.
Julian Wadham will reprise his role as John Steed with Emily Woodward playing sidekick Tara King – but appearing alongside them in one episode (Mother’s Day, by Sarah Grochala) will be actress Linda Thorson, who originally portrayed Tara King on television.
Thorson has been cast as Tatiana, described as “a villainous Russian grandmother”.
“It was very strange when I knew I was going to meet Emily Woodward today… we happen to have the same agent!” Thorson told RadioTimes.com and other press. “She’s divine and adorable, but I thought ‘I’m going to be meeting Tara King and that’s going to be very strange!’.”
Thorson played Tara in 33 episodes of The Avengers, from 1968 until the show’s final outing in 1969, and replaced Diana Rigg who played Emma Peel. “There was a lot of speculation that no-one would ever be able to replace Diana Rigg,” she admitted. “I just wanted a chance to show that I could do it, but I filmed for one full year before they [the episodes] went on television. For a year!
“I got a reputation because I didn’t want to give interviews… but I thought if I flop and it’s a horrible failure, it’ll be even worse if I’ve opened my mouth and said things about how excited I was… so that was a very, very difficult thing.”
Thorson’s episodes of The Avengers were in fact a ratings success in the UK and Europe, though they fared less well in the US where the show was pitted against the hit sketch comedy show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Without the backing of US investors, The Avengers was forced to wrap up Steed and Miss King’s adventures, with the final episode ‘Bizarre’ sending the pair into orbit aboard a rocket.
“They went up into the universe, into the galaxies, and that was the end of the show – though we didn’t know at that time whether it would be the last show, it wasn’t for certain,” Thorson recalled. “But I thought it was a wonderful ending.”
Though she insists that the Avengers TV series “ended at a good time” (“I think that we were at the end of the spy vogue by the time I was coming in – I actually do not see The Avengers working now, at all.”), Thorson thinks that the transition to audio has “works seamlessly”, since there was always “a great deal of emphasis on dialogue in The Avengers, and repartee”.
“The back-and-forth between Tara and Steed is there wonderfully in these scripts,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be a part of it. What a wonderful thing that this classic series has this new life with these wonderful actors, Julian Wadham and Emily Woodward.”
The four stories in ‘The Avengers: The Comic Strip Adaptations Volume 05: Steed & Tara King’ are: Whatever Next? By John Dorney, How Does your Garden Grow? By Dan Starkey, A Very Civil War by Roland Moore, and Mother’s Day by Sarah Grochala.
The release is now available for pre-order as a collector’s edition four-disc box set or digital download, from just £24.99, at bigfinish.com
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