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