The Tour Honchos have been doing something of a deep dive on one particular actor that holds a fascination for being either emblematic of the time in which they appeared, or for just for being interesting in their own right.
The actor this time is Gerald Harper (who is still with us and in his 90s). While his direct involvement with Doctor Who is nil, he has all sorts of ancillary touches with Doctor Who which we will expound upon shortly. Harper’s ‘imperial period’ spanned the 1960’s to mid-70’s and included ‘Gazette’ from 1968 and a follow-up series ‘Hadleigh,’ which the Tour just finishes and ran for four series from 1969 to 1976.
But his first ‘series’ was ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’ and while television is always, always, always a product of the time in which it was made, we doubt there’s a drama series which screams 1966 more than ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’ does, and this is where Doctor Who tangentially intrudes.
One of the creators of AAL! was Donald Cotton, who contributed The Myth Makers immediately after Lambert ankled. Most importantly though, the providence for AAL! was all too obvious. By this time ‘The Avengers’ had moved to film and struck gold with the casting of Diana Rigg. AAL! by almost any measure is a lo-fi variation on ‘The Avengers’ with an Edwardian gentleman (in this case frozen from 1901 to the present day) drawn into swinging sixties London (alongside a with-it girl) and all of the cultural juxtapositions which flow from that. As the Tour holds ‘The Avengers,’ especially this period, in the highest possible esteem, watching ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’ is an even larger curiosity than it otherwise might have been, and for us it often–owing due the very distinct differences in production between the two series–doesn’t work.
This isn’t down to Gerald Harper, who endeavors to remain a model of Edwardian rectitude, but it does mean the central performance can often seem stiff and off-kilter as he endeavors who fit into a very different world from the one he left. Still AAL! ran for two series in 1966 and 1967. The last episode for the first series ‘D For Destruction’ featured, yep you guessed it, Patrick Troughton as a General who dispatches Adamant to his old Regiment to root out a takeover plot. He sure turns up a lot in these pages.
‘D For Destruction’ aired on October 13, 1966. A mere 16 days later William Hartnell would yield to Troughton in Doctor Who. These are the pleasant coincidences which never cease to amuse us.