Monday 26 January 2009

Adam Adamant again

I’ve invested in the complete collection of DVDs from the 1996-67 BBC TV series ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’ It’s a series I’ve mentioned before. Like ‘The Avengers’, ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘The Prisoner’, it’s utterly redolent of Sixties culture – right down to the melodramatic Kathy Kirby theme song - and it still bears watching today.

For those who don’t know it, the premise anticipates the Austin Powers movies. Adam is a swashbuckling Victorian adventurer, cryogenically frozen by his enemy, the mysterious and devilish ‘The Face’, and restored to life in Swinging London. He rapidly acquires a gorgeous companion, and even a butler, who assist – and sometimes obstruct – him in his battles on behalf of Good against Evil. The series featured many good actors, and one legendary director – the great Ridley Scott, long before Blade Runner.

The special features include a truly excellent documentary, which reunites Adam (the suave, if occasionally wooden, Gerald Harper) with his dolly bird chum Georgina (Juliet Harmer.) A fascinating fact is that the story-line was originally conceived as the revival in the Sixties of Sexton Blake. But the BBC couldn’t acquire the rights to Blake as a character, and he later turned up in an independent television series, played straight by Laurence Payne (himself an occasional crime novelist.)

There’s a marvellous account of the various names that were considered for the character after it was decided he had to be original, and not Blake. No question about my favourite – Darius Crud. Can you believe it? I swear it is true – I have the DVD to prove it! To my mind, it’s a great sadness that ‘Darius Crud Lives!’ was never brought to our screens. It would have acquired classic status.

When I first watched the show, at the tender age of eleven, I thought that Juliet Harmer was probably the prettiest tv star I’d ever seen, and all these years later, I’m not entirely sure I want to revise that judgement. Yet soon she more or less abandoned acting. Her role as Adam’s enthusiastic companion is still her great claim to fame. But a claim to be proud of, I think. The show was flawed, perhaps because the scripts were rushed out and therefore uneven, but it possessed elements of brilliance.


Anonymous said...

I am not familiar with Adam Adamant. So many blanks to fill, so little time. I did love Adam Ant though, although David Essex pipped him at the post....

Martin Edwards said...

David Essex, every time! As for Adam Adamant, it was a great concept. Perhaps the scripts were a bit patchy, but the one episode I've watched stood up to the test of time better than I'd expected.