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Adam Adamant

The man who loves dan­ger is back, as a lost episode is recre­ated

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ADAM LLEWELLYN DE VERE ADAMANT IS no stranger to un­ex­pected res­ur­rec­tions. The hero of cult ’60s show Adam Adamant Lives!, this dash­ing, dandy ad­ven­turer found him­self deep-frozen in 1902, only to awake in the age of miniskirts and Mini Coop­ers. Played by the suave Ger­ald Harper, Adam swash­buck­led his way through two sea­sons of ad­ven­tures, wag­gling a sword-stick at the forces of evil and in­jus­tice.

Twelve of those episodes are miss­ing from the archives. But now, at least, 1967’s “The Basardi Af­fair” is set to be recre­ated in an­i­mated form, match­ing new vi­su­als to the orig­i­nal sound­track.

“The BBC reused so much video­tape back in the ’60s,” says Chris Perry of Kalei­do­scope, a com­pany ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing and cel­e­brat­ing vin­tage TV. “A video­tape would cost any­thing be­tween £200-300, depend­ing on its length. These things got reused pretty quickly, so once they’d been recorded on and shown, they were wiped and reused. The se­cond sea­son of Adam Adamant Lives! is vir­tu­ally dec­i­mated.”

The au­dio of “The Basardi Af­fair” was only found in 2018. “It’s ab­so­lutely re­mark­able, re­ally,” Perry tells Red Alert. “It’s more com­mon to find sound­tracks recorded off the TV by col­lec­tors at home, but this was quite dif­fer­ent. It was a trans­fer project be­ing run at BBC Bris­tol. It was all sup­posed to be nat­u­ral his­tory stuff. Sud­denly this reel popped up, this off-air sound­track. Tim Em­blem-English, who was trans­fer­ring the ma­te­rial, re­alised it was Adam Adamant be­cause he’s a big fan of cult TV. He con­tacted us and we talked to the pro­ducer at BBC Bris­tol, and she said ‘Well, if it’s rare and it’s miss­ing, you guys try and do some­thing with it.’

“Hav­ing looked at the suc­cess of the Dad’s Army and Doc­tor Who an­i­ma­tions, we de­cided that Kalei­do­scope would form a new branch called Kalei­do­scope An­i­ma­tion, and we’d have a go at this episode.”

The team is led by Gar­rett Gilchrist, known for restor­ing Richard Wil­liams’s un­fin­ished an­i­mated movie The Thief And The Cob­bler. “Largely he con­trols the day to day pro­duc­tion of it, and I over­see it in terms of try­ing to make it as faith­ful as pos­si­ble,” says Perry. “We’ve de­lib­er­ately taken longer than we could have done. We’ve worked hard to im­prove the qual­ity of it be­cause of course we’re not work­ing for a com­mer­cial master. We’re do­ing it as a project for the BFI so we don’t have to bow down to any­body else. We’ve over­spent on it!

“The draw­ing part has been im­mensely dif­fi­cult – try­ing to get all the dif­fer­ent fig­ures to look like the orig­i­nal ac­tors is ac­tu­ally far harder than you would imag­ine. It’s proven to be so dif­fi­cult to get some of the dif­fer­ent an­gles and the dif­fer­ent ex­pres­sions. You can see why Star Wars spends mil­lions of dol­lars on CGI for Peter Cush­ing’s face!”

“The Basardi Af­fair” finds the de­frosted dare­devil cross­ing paths with the leader of an oil-rich na­tion. One chal­lenge for Kalei­do­scope has been a se­ri­ous short­age of ref­er­ence ma­te­rial from the orig­i­nal episode.

“We’ve got the ac­tual script, which has sur­vived, but there are only two ac­tual pho­to­graphs in ex­is­tence from this story. There are var­i­ous other things like stu­dio plans of sets, or draw­ings of things like Adam Adamant’s flat, and we’ve been able to use those as back­grounds. We can look at the faces of the ac­tual ac­tors – we’ve got lots of ref­er­ence ma­te­rial of the ac­tual peo­ple that ap­pear in it, be­cause they ap­peared in lots of other pro­grammes as well, like Z-Cars and Doc­tor Who.

“In some senses we have to take a few artis­tic li­cences with it,” ad­mits Perry. “We have some cre­ative free­dom but we are try­ing to use as much of the orig­i­nal ref­er­ence ma­te­rial as we can. It’s a bit Mar­mite, do­ing these an­i­ma­tion projects, but we’re try­ing to make it as close as we can to what it would have been orig­i­nally, and hope that more peo­ple like it than don’t like it! I’m try­ing to un­lock the po­ten­tial of these au­dio record­ings, and the plan is to go on and do some dif­fer­ent se­ries like Pub­lic Eye and Cal­lan af­ter­wards.”

Kalei­do­scope aims to pre­miere “The Basardi Af­fair” at the BFI’s Miss­ing Be­lieved Wiped event in De­cem­ber; it has al­ready shown a five-minute sneak pre­view at the pre­vi­ous event at the end of last year.

“De­spite all the ef­fort and work we’ve put into it, I kind of hope that when we show it at the BFI, some­one will ring up and say ‘Oh, I’ve got that film print!’,” says Perry. “With these projects, the pub­lic­ity we gen­er­ate will bring more lost TV out of the wood­work. More peo­ple will con­tact us to say ‘I think I’ve got this in my loft…’ It all helps to bring more lost TV back to life again.” NS

For more in­for­ma­tion on Kalei­do­scope and the work they do, head to tvbrain.info.

We’ve de­lib­er­ately taken longer than we could have done. We’ve worked hard to im­prove the qual­ity of it

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