Robert Vaughn's title card.
|Created by||Gerry Anderson|
Nyree Dawn Porter
|Theme music composer||Mitch Murray
|Opening theme||"Avenues and Alleyways" Instrumental|
|Ending theme||"Avenues and Alleyways" sung by Tony Christie|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||52 (List of episodes)|
John S. Smith
|Cinematography||Brendan J. Stafford
|Running time||25 mins approx. per episode
|Production company(s)||Group Three Productions|
|Picture format||Film (16 and 35 mm) 4:3 Colour|
|Original run||7 July 1972– 1 February 1974|
The Protectors is a British television series, an action thriller created by Gerry Anderson. It was Anderson's second TV series using live actors as opposed to electronic marionettes, and also his second to be firmly set in contemporary times (following The Secret Service). It was also the only Gerry Anderson produced television series that was not of the fantasy or science fiction genres. It was produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment production company. Despite not featuring marionettes or any real science fiction elements, The Protectors became one of Anderson's most popular productions, easily winning a renewal for a second season. A third season was in the planning stages when the show's major sponsor pulled out, forcing its cancellation.
The Protectors first aired in 1972 and 1973, and ran to 52 episodes over two series, each 25 minutes long - making it one of the last series of this type to be produced in a half-hour format. It starred Robert Vaughn (of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fame) as Harry Rule, Nyree Dawn Porter (The Forsyte Saga) as the Contessa Caroline di Contini, and Tony Anholt (Space: 1999, Howard's Way) as Paul Buchet. Episodes often featured prominent guest actors.
Three inexplicably affluent international private detectives/troubleshooters are charged with ensuring the protection of innocents. They belong to an organization called The Protectors, based in London. Harry leads the group. The Contessa lives in Italy (when she is not working with Harry). She runs her own detective agency, which specializes in exposing art frauds and recovering stolen art. Paul Buchet works out of Paris, and is the group's researcher and gadget specialist. Adventures range from simple kidnapping to convoluted cases of international intrigue. These characters are all very wealthy and drive exotic cars of the era, such as the Citroën SM and Jensen Interceptor.
According to Anderson, the show's format was outlined in a brief note that Grade gave him, and he was then given a free hand to develop it, although Grade ultimately cast two of the main actors himself. The format of the series allowed for occasional episodes in which not all of the main actors appeared, including two episodes in which Vaughn's character was absent.
Like The Persuaders!, a similar series also produced by ITC that aired around the same time, The Protectors was shot on location at numerous "exotic" locations throughout Europe, such as Salzburg, Rome, Malta and Paris, giving the series a sixties "jet set" feel (it was also the first Anderson production to have such a luxury). Some critics[who?] feel that the series has dated badly, with weak plots used as an excuse to string together location footage. In order to offset the cost of location filming, and also perhaps because the equipment was more portable, the series was shot on 16mm film rather than the usual 35.
The theme tune for the series, "Avenues and Alleyways", was a minor hit for Tony Christie (and was later successfully revived by Christie in the 2000s thanks in part to its use in the soundtrack to the film Love, Honour and Obey).
In Germany, the series was known as Kein Pardon für Schutzengel (meaning "No Mercy for Guardian Angels") and in France as Poigne de fer et séduction ("Iron Fist and Seduction").
According to Robert Vaughn's autobiography, there were numerous problems between the actor and both Grade and Anderson. Anderson has claimed that Vaughn acted like a Hollywood prima donna and refused to get along with the other actors. Vaughn claimed that he felt the series was "tasteless junk", and that he could not understand the scripts either before or during shooting. Vaughn was given the opportunity to direct one episode himself – #23 in production order, "It Could Be Practically Anywhere on the Island". Grade called it the worst episode he had ever seen of anything.
ITV Studios Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Region 2 in 2002/2003.
A&E Home Video released the entire series on DVD in Region 1. The first season was released on 22 September 2003, the second on 25 May 2004.
Network DVD released a seven disc Region 2 DVD set in 2010 comprising both series.