Long cited as the BBC's answer to The Avengers, in reality Adam Adamant Lives! owes more to the slick style, tone and format of Lew Grade's phenomenally successful ITC stable of action series rather than the sleek and sophisticated antics of Steed and Mrs. Peel. Under the watchful eye of former Doctor Who producer, Verity Lambert, script consultant and series creator Tony Williamson, with creative input from both Donald Cotton and Richard Harris, the concept of a Victorian adventurer restored to life to right wrongs and daredevil through the criminal underworld of the "Swinging" city of London (circa 1966), was brought to the nation's television screens with a wit and exuberance hindered only by black and white filming and a standard BBC budget of the time.
The hero of the series is one Adam Llewellyn De Vere Adamant, a perfectly judged performance of such urbane, heroic verve from a perfectly cast Gerald Harper that the borderline psychotic ruthlessness with which the character kills is overlooked with astonishing ease on the part of the viewer. In the opening story our hero is drugged and frozen alive in 1902 by his archenemy 'The Face' (Peter Ducrow). Thawed out in the middle of the Swingin' Sixties, Adamant is then rescued by trendy nightclub DJ Georgina Jones (Juliet Harmer), who, having learned about his exploits from her grandfather, is a confirmed Adamant fan. Accompanied by Georgina and former music hall artist turned valet, Simms (Jack May), they swashbuckle their way through various adventures.
Most of the fun came from the stark contrast between Adamant's Edwardian values and that of the era of love, peace and flowers. The music that introduced each episode was a 'raunchy' Goldfinger style theme sung by Kathy Kirby. Although very much a product of the decade that spawned it, at its best Adam Adamant Lives! as well as being exciting and blessed by an effortlessly commanding central performance from Harper, also set a certain style in its elaborately attired leading man, which would find televisual echoes in the decades that followed, particularly in the man-of-action dandiness of Jon Pertwee's Doctor Who and Peter Wyngarde's outrageously stylised Jason King.
Published on November 26th, 2018. Peter Henshuls.