Retro Review: The Avengers -The Hour that Never Was

‘The Hour that Never Was’

steedoEpisode 4-09
Written byRoger Marshall Directed by Gerry O’Hara
Transmitted 26 November 1965

Mrs. Peel accompanies Steed to an old RAF base that is being decommissioned. On the way to the base, Steed veers the Bentley off the road to avoid hitting a dog that had feverishly jumped in front of the car. Steed is looking forward to seeing old friends before they are dispersed across the globe and an era is ended. On foot, the pair approach the base while Steed spins yarns about his wild and carefree days of yore, but something is amiss.

The Base is entirely empty, and despite obvious signs for a celebratory welcome, all signs indicate that it is a ghost town. During their investigation, they witness a milkman getting shot and are then assailed by an ear-shattering sonic attack. In the wake of the assault, Steed finds that he has lost Mrs. Peel only to find a strange tramp named Hickey (played by veteran character actor Roy Kinnear) who lives off of the base’s discarded food and drink, but there’s not much to nosh on these days. However, Hicket is happy to see his dog again, the same one that prompted the car wreck on the road. It turns out that the dog belongs to the guard. Inspired, Steed rushes off to see if he can find anyone else and is knocked unconscious… only to awaken in his wrecked Bentley again at precisely the same hour.

A very slow-moving and weird adventure, The Hour that Never Was focuses mainly on Steed which suits me fine. I adore the chemistry of Steed and Peel, but it is nice to see them on their own from time to time. The story is that it centers on Steed’s jovial association with other servicemen. As Steed is such a well behaved and particularly well-mannered gent, it’s interesting to see him in his element among others, including the dashing Gerald Harper (of Adam Adamant fame). The disquiet of the deserted base is very cleverly counter-balanced by the scene when the base is full of people who are obviously unaware that they are being manipulated.

The story has a weird almost dream-like quality as scenes are familiar yet different and the silence is replaced by music and laughter. It is a pleasant moment when Steed is reunited with Mrs Peel who is far more clever than he is and deduces what is really going on. Mind control via high frequency sound waves to create a vast network of sleeper agents across the world. What follows is the usual fisticuffs and a fanfare for each punch thrown. One aspect of the Avengers that continues to attract me is that even in the face of adversity and absolute destruction, Steed and Peel are unflappable.

How can you not love this show?


One thought on “Retro Review: The Avengers -The Hour that Never Was

  1. True indeed. Jolly good show, J. L.! Even when the plots are familiar the sheer *style* and wit of The Avengers pulls you in. At its best the series has a verve and strange off-kilter quality that charms, while the relationship between Steed and Mrs Peel is always a joy, I can’t really see that kind of easy charisma being duplicated today (and if anyone mentions the forced and wholly self-satisfied Sherloct then derisive laughter shall ring obnoxiously forth!). Another fine little piece, well done. Great pictures too!


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