One of the prime ITC action adventure series, The Champions channels Lost Horizon and Department S to come up with a brilliant spin on the format.
The three stars, Damon, Bastedo and Gaunt play a trio of special agents working for international peace agency Nemesis, however this trio is not just any ordinary bunch of globetrotting agents but a trio of agents with some pretty special powers, following a plane crash in the Himalayas whilst en route to a mission in China the trio are saved by a wizened old man from a reclusive Tibetan civilisation who endow them with a little bit extra when compared to mr average joe, all of their senses have been heightened and they have more strength and stamina as well as some telepathic abilities.
Of course this makes them perfect agents for Nemesis, following orders issued by their boss Tremayne, who was based in Geneva (ie the ITC studios), the team trotted around the globe averting disaster and investigating potential trouble spots.
Like all of the great ITC series The Champions has that glossy slick style, shot on film with one eye on the American market but also with that rear projection standing in for exotic locales vibe that ITC loved.
Some great supporting actors crop up throughout the episodes too including the likes of Peter Wyngarde, Bernard Lee, Donald Sutherland and Paul Eddington. A great show when it was made in the late sixties and still superior television now.
Note that broadcast dates above are for the ATV region. At the time The Champions was made ITV was still somewhat disjointed with not all regions bothering to broadcast some shows or at a later date or incomplete. ATV, thanks to chairman Lew Grade’s bringing his production company ITC under the ATV banner, generally were one of the few ITV companies to ensure a complete run of episodes for any ITC series.
UK / ITV – ITC – Film-Makers / 30×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 25 September 1968 – 30 April 1969
Creators: Monty Berman, Dennis Spooner / Script Supervisor: Dennis Spooner / Theme Music: Tony Hatch / Producer: Monty Berman
Stuart Damon as Craig Stirling
Alexandra Bastedo as Sharron Macready
William Gaunt as Richard Barrett
Anthony Nicholls as Lawrence Tremayne