The Adventurer

1971 | United Kingdom

The publicity for this ITC show read "travel the world with The Adventurer, in a series of vital, new and dynamic situations in which every turn brings the zing of danger, drama and originality". Most viewers ended up wishing the hero of this particular television outing had stayed at home. 

Produced by Monty Berman and filmed on location in France and at Elstree studios in the UK with theme music by John Barry, this 1971-72 ITC action-adventure series starred American actor Gene Barry (Burkes Law, The Name of The Game) as Gene Bradley, a wealthy, jet-setting movie celebrity who indulged himself in business ventures of all kinds, but whose real job involved secret assignments for U.S. Intelligence. Using his acting skills, Bradley would take on various disguises as an international knight who came to the rescue of threatened women, defecting scientists and others in need of assistance. His assignments were given to him by his 'manager', (Mr. Parminter played by Barry Morse of The Fugitive and Space 1999 fame), and he was accompanied by fellow agent Gavin Jones. Diane (Catherine Schell-Space 1999) was his contact with his agency. The series was made by Scoton Productions, a company formed by Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman. The first of the company's productions was The Champions which was a fantasy/action/thriller series about secret agents who are endowed with extra-sensory, almost super human powers. 

The Champions was filmed mostly on the backlot of Elstree studios, which doubled for a number of exotic locations, which in turn made the series relatively cheap to produce, a major factor in getting ITC chief Lew Grade to bankroll the project. Under Grade's leadership ITC had specialised in action/adventure series like The Saint and Danger Man, which were deliberately aimed at the widest international audience. This proved massively successful for the company although by the time The Adventurer went into production Grade found himself being accused of making TV shows which didn't take any risks and, in their adoption of a commercially viable transatlantic style, lacked any real national identity. 

In April 1971, Grade was asked to find two new shows to fill two thirty minute timeslots in the USA who at that time were ITC's largest overseas purchaser. Even the lead actor was frequently American in many ITC shows, which made them even more US sale-able. Grade sanctioned two half-hour action shows to fit the bill. The first was The Protectors which was made by Gerry Anderson, the creator of ITC's Supermarionation series such as Stingray and Thunderbirds and who had been dying to make a live-action series for years. 

The second was Scoton's final series. The Adventurer was billed as "Everybody's pin-up - nobody's fool". But even casting a big star like Gene Barry failed to lift the show out of the very, very ordinary and lent weight to many critics claim that Grade's latest crop of shows were bland and formulaic. Viewers may well have been forgiven for thinking they had seen it all before and ironically, in the USA, for where the series had originally been made, it disappeared from the schedules without explanation after just 2 episodes. 

The Adventurer was made at a time when ITC was moving away from television production to focus on major feature films and in spite of having some of Britain's best known names from its Golden Television Era working on the show the whole series has something of a 'contractual obligation' feel to it. Directors such as Cyril Frankel and Val Guest and writers like Donald James and Brian Clemens should have elevated it above the norm, but instead the viewer is left with the distinct impression that they were simply going through the motions. 

Published on November 26th, 2018. SRH.