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Three agents of the "International peace agency" called "Nemesis" suffer a plane crash in the Himalayas on a dramatic return journey from a mission to China. They are saved and healed by an old man from a reclusive Tibetan civilization, and given superhuman powers.
This is the introduction to this classic British series made by ITC in 1968. This series is simply just fun. You cannot take this too seriously because its beauty is that it is pure escapism. To some people it may seem like a lot of nonsense and hokum, but for me the show works because it is tongue in cheek escapist good fun that isn't too bogged down in depressing and serious true to life stories. It also works because it comes from a quality company ITC. The series is well produced with good pace and inventive plots. The stories are outside the box.
There are four main characters. There is the boss of "Nemesis" called Tremayne. Then there are the three agents with special powers that help them to maintain peace in the world. American Craig Sterling, British agent Richard Barrett and Sharon McCready. They have senses that are finely tuned. They can hear, see and smell better than the average human. They also have enhanced strength and stamina. And they all have a telepathic link to each other.
Their boss Tremayne who is based in Geneva gives them assignments that are aimed at avoiding incidents of world tension. The three agents work closely as a team and get into all sorts of adventures. They always keep their special powers secret to protect the anonymity of the lost city that gave them these special attributes.
This gives some light humour as often they have to come up with an alternative explanation to give to Tremayne as to how they managed to complete their mission.
The special powers are more believable than say Superman or The six million dollar man. These powers are on human terms. And these agents are as mortal as the rest of us. They can get hurt and are not invincible.
As the series develops there is character development and there is a strong bond between the three agents.
The title is the champions and each episode we are reminded that "they are champions of law, order and justice".
The series has great production and looks very stylish. The clothes and costumes are smart and have that colour and sharpness characteristic of the sixties. It is the slick, smart, colourful and stylish production that I love about this series. ITC made some wonderful British shows and this is an entertaining slice of nostalgia
This is a re packaged re release of the same edition from a few years ago.
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on 21 March 2004
Now some people think its odd how a show that was made at the end of the 60s and aired from 1968 through the early 70s could appeal to someone not born until the early 80s. It was my mother who brought this show to my attention, when it was repeated on BBC 2 on a Friday evening at 6 o'clock during the early 90s. After viewing the first episodes I was hooked.
This series was from the same genre as Man from U.N.C.L.E, Randall & Hopkirk Deceased and also came around the same time as all the Gerry Anderson productions such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. All shows that appealed to me as a child.
This series was my favourite though as it had that little something extra. The show focused on three secret agents of the organisation Nemisis, who during a mission to recover a biological agent, during their escape their plane crashes in the Himalayas. Doomed to die up there on the mountains, when all seems lost, a lost civilisation of Tibetan Monks save their lives and are also given special powers such as super strength, speed, agility, telepathy and ESP. The three agents head back to the world where they can use their new powers in fight against villains intent on destruction, drug-smuggling, espionage and kidnapping.
The characters themselves were very interesting, Craig Sterling (Stuart Damon) was the American of the group, very slick and certainly James Bond-ish, the ladies man of the group. Richard Barrett (William Gaunt) was the English opposite of Sterling, very calm, relaxed, calculating and very dry in personality and humour. Sharron Macready (Alexandra Bastedo) was the female of the group, trained in a variety of fields and having the beauty to match her powers that set her high above any other female agent character in any other show. The only flaw is that the amount of time certain characters get on screen is a little biased, Sharron doesn't have too many staring roles, the stories tend to favour Craig and Richard, which is a shame because as a male I'd have rather watched Sharron in secret agent action more often. Especially considering she has tricks up her sleeves in the fight against crime that Craig and Richard don't have, like her ability to hypnotise people.
This show is certainly good fun to watch and lacks any amazing special effects which tended to distract from the story. When ever one of the characters uses their special powers, it's all done by physical means, which in places makes it look funny, rocks can be seen to be made out of polystyrene and doors made out of cardboard for example, but I like that over CGI ladened modern day counterparts.
This boxset is great giving us all 30 Episodes of the show, spread over 8 DVDs. It does lack extras but then again who'd have imagined the show would be released on DVD when it was made 30 years ago. The extras consists of Character Biographies, Trailers and Stills Galleries. The lack of extras can be forgiven for the 30+ hours of actual episodes. So I would certainly recommend this to anyone who likes this sort of show, other people less familiar I would recommend it anyway, after you've seen a couple of episodes you'll like this show as well.
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on 12 October 2006
I bought this boxed set the minute it became available on Amazon. I notice that all of the other reviews so far have been male. I quite understand this as I feel like I am the only female on this planet that hates soaps and rom-coms, probably due to having been sat in front of the telly by an equally sci fi and crime series obsessed mother from a very early age. The Champions was just about the very first television programme I can just about barely remember watching (I was about 6 when it came out). Yet even then it had left a favourable lasting impression on me as programmes filled with good plots, fun, humour, adventure and action all rolled into one. I was a bit apprehensive because obviously my perspective on what makes a good programme has changed since I was six. However I was not disappointed on buying this boxed set and re-watching the programmes again after all these years. I did notice on that back of the packaging that the claim is made that 3 of the episodes have a voice over by the "Champions" but I have only been able to find 2 of the episodes with this special feature (i.e. The Beginning and Auto Kill). If anyone can tell me which is the 3rd one I would be happy to try to locate it on my DVD? That aside. What can I say. Maybe it is nostalgia for me but either way I have re-watched the whole set now and every now and again I still pick out an episode to re-watch. This is a DVD set that looks like it will keep me interested and occupied forever. Definitely my favourite viewing ever.
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VINE VOICEon 4 September 2007
There's something quite 'magic' about THE CHAMPIONS. And it isn't just to do with their superhuman powers. Perhaps it's something to do with the age at which I first saw this superb telefantasy show. Seven, in my case, tapping firmly into my imagination and lingering happily in the memory like no other ITC series before or since.

This box set, unlike the previous Carlton edition, has been remastered and contains extra features, including commentaries and documentaries - AND a chance to see the ridiculous splicing together of two episodes (THE BEGINNING and THE INTERROGATION) to form a US network TV movie. For rarity value's sake alone, it's a must-see mistake. Also included is the 'historic' filmed reunion of STUART DAMON, WILLIAM GAUNT and ALEXANDRA BASTEDO. And while their jolly (albeit brief) reminiscences are undoubtedly fascinating, it does raise the question: why did they leave it nearly forty years before seeing each other again? Special Edition DVD box set aside, it's never adequately explained, although they seem happy enough in each other's company.

With a total of thirty episodes to choose from quality is bound to vary and, due to some indifferent direction and padding, several of the stories have the co-efficient drag factor of a brick. But the best stand out with no effort required: THE BEGINNING, THE EXPERIMENT, TO TRAP A RAT, THE GHOST PLANE, THE FANATICS, THE SEARCH, THE INTERROGATION, THE SILENT ENEMY, PROJECT ZERO and AUTOKILL. My pick of the bunch and most of them containing above-average amounts of location filming. Well, OUTDOOR filming, at least.

The more you watch THE CHAMPIONS the more it becomes apparent that certain episodes highlight the Nemesis Agents' superpowers while others treat it as an afterthought. Probably typical of the times - budget constraints being what they were usually meant that scripts had to be written quickly and the iron grip of an excecutive producer was nothing like it is today. Superpowers, however, are very much to the fore in the most notable and exciting set-piece of the entire series, and occurs not when our gifted heroes are battling Cold War enemies, mad scientists or defecting despots...but when they're momentarily turned against each other. AUTOKILL has RICHARD BARRETT kidnapped and programmed to kill CRAIG STIRLING in an effort to undermine the global operations of Nemesis. Even boss TREMAYNE is rendered helpless and in need of an antidote which, if not administered quickly, sends the affected person mad, resulting in death. The climactic scene where the two superagents slug it out (with SHARRON MACREADY taking care of the large-framed villain) is a masterpiece of brilliantly choreographed 60's tv brutality. I still get an adrenaline rush when I watch it now (go on, say it: "big kid"), but it all ends well with the central characters saved from the brink of destruction by the special bond that runs between them, aah. THE CHAMPIONS' final (and finest) episode.

An excellent and unique slice of British telefantasy - with a great title sequence, theme tune and incidental music. By no means without its flaws, you'll still find yourself wallowing in the nostalgia with a big smile on your face.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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on 23 August 2005
I never saw this series when it originally aired in the 60s. I ended up watching it on the recomendation of a friend. I'm glad now that I did follow that advice.
This is a spy/detective drama with a SciFi edge to it. When 3 NEMISES agents crash in Himalayas and almost die they are healed by a mysterious people and given enhanced "natural" human abilities that they are warned to keep secret when they get home.
The series is a spy/detective drama that takes place all over europe and the UK. The "superpowers" of the agents help with their cases, but only equally as much as their natural investigative skills which they posessed before their "enhancement".
The "superpower" special effects are subtle and the plots at least as intelligent as anything you'll see in TV today. The show is somewhat dated by its fashions and technology and the limits of TV special effects at the time, but it otherwise still very enjoyable and worth watching even today. Especially if you like shows with a SciFi tinge to them.
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on 16 February 2005
If you loved The Champions first time around, you'll love it all over again. I was mad about Stuart Damon when at primary school and I've enjoyed the fantasy once again in my early forties. I can still remember the rush of excitement when I tripped home from school all set to watch The Champions. Looking back at the 'Thunderbirds' technology and the very wooden Tremayne, I can't believe how they got away with it, but it's simply great. My whole family have laughed along the way but have thoroughly enjoyed the ride. This is a must buy and worth every penny at this bargain price. The box set is very nicely put together and the colours are as sharp as anything on TV today. Well done to Carlton for releasing the complete 30 episodes in this giant box set. All I want now is to get the fantastic theme tune to install as my mobile ringtone. Take a nostalgic trip back 30 years and enjoy this excellent stuff!
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on 11 January 2007
The Champions is, to my mind, an under-rated series: three terrific leads who work brilliantly together, an original concept and some fantastic scripts. For those who want whizzy special effects, look away: this was state of the art in 1966, not 2006. For those who want action, adventure and a fair slice of humour, give it a go.

The extras in this set are outstanding, and seeing the three stars reunited after so long was a treat. They're great fun, both in the documentary and their commentaries. It's a pity they weren't asked to comment over every episode!

I'm too young to recall the series' initial broadcasting. I caught up with it in the '90s, and have watched out for a release like this ever since. It was worth the wait.
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on 8 May 2012
`The Champions' is one of my favourite British TV series of the 1960's; I remember well back in the early 70's watching repeats of this series, and being fascinated by the show-I have to admit I liked Alexandra Bastedo, so that's probably why I watched the show-who wouldn't.

Over the years as the show came and went in TV land I would watch the show again, but this time having more appreciation for it than before with every viewing (probably because one is getting older).

Now I have the series on DVD, and what a gem it is to see all the episodes again and realizing this show was brilliant and different than anything I have seen on television before. I also realized that it went for one season-damn! (I want more). Why is it that quality British TV series in the 60's go for one season, or the ones that should have seen a second season at least?

In any case `The Champions' is one series that you have to have in your collection, considering today's outings in television, British shows in the 60's and 70's seem so refreshing and more enjoyable than ever, where you can just sit down and take pleasure in what's on offer.

The series was made in 1967 and consisted of 30 episodes, and was broadcast on the UK Network ITV and the US during 1968-69.

The series features Craig Stirling (Stuart Damon), Sharron Macready (Alexandra Bastedo) and Richard Barrett (Willian Guant) as agents for a law enforcement organization called `Nemesis', based in Geneva, Switzerland, headed by Tremayne (Anthony Nicholls).

In the `Pilot' episode - `The Beginning' - The three Nemesis agents while completing a mission in China, escape via plane but crash land in the Himalayan Mountains. They are then rescued by an advanced civilization living secretly in the mountains, which save their lives, granting them perfected and enhanced human abilities, including powers to communicate with one another over distances by ESP (telepathy), and to foresee events (precognition), as well as their five senses and intellect, and physical attributes to the fullest extent of human capabilities. Of course, poor Tremayne, their boss does not know `The Champions' have these enhanced abilities and is kept in the dark, perhaps until the three decide that he should. If there was a second season, I'm sure the trio would have had to tell Tremayne.

Now lets look at the Episodes:

Please Note: I have put the episodes in DVD order, (maybe this was original production order?), and the numbers before each episode title is the UK airdate order as presented on various Internet websites.

01 - "The Beginning" - Mission Location: China - Our three Nemesis agents recover from a plane crash in the Tibetan mountains to find their injuries healed. In the course of this pilot episode, they learn they have new abilities bestowed on them by their rescuers, people from an ancient civilisation, all the while having to evade capture from the Chinese military.

Personal Comment:
1] Great first pilot episode to start with, to set the tone of the series.
2] The Nemesis agents have been healed within the last 2 days, as the mission was on the night of the 5th.
3] Thus after the plane crash and being healed, Craig finally wakes up and looks at his watch-it is the 7th (month unknown but the year assumed is 1967-present time of the series).
4] In Tremayne's office, Tremayne states his agents took 5 days to get back, thus we assume it is either the 12th or the 13th of the same unknown month.
5] This is Sharron's first Nemesis assignment.
6] Fact File: Sharron Macready - A Bacteriologist, and has studied medicine as well as other fields/subjects; she married very young, but her husband was killed-death unknown.

02 - "The Invisible Man" - Mission Location: England - The Nemesis agents investigate a plot to steal 30 million in gold reserves from a bank in the City of London.

Personal Comment:
1] A good story (maybe a bit thing in places) but with actor Peter Wyngarde as Dr. Hallam, giving a strong performance, he gave the episode some much needed bite, it always good to see an actor give substance to a script that requires a bit of impact to make it work and watchable.
2] In the opening teaser, watch out for David Prowse (Darth Vader) as the Weightlifter (uncredited).

06 - "Operation Deep Freeze" - Mission Location: Antarctica - Craig and Richard are sent to Antarctica to investigate an unexplained nuclear explosion and discover that an unnamed country is using the territory to develop its own nuclear weapon.

Personal Comment: This is a good well-paced episode and excellent acting all-round; Patrick Wymark as General Gomez is outstanding as the classic cold war soldier-arrogant, tough, self-important, no regard or respect for anyone, he lives only to serve his country.

17 - "A Case of Lemmings" - Mission Locations: France & Italy - The Craig, Richard and Sharron are sent to investigate when several Interpol agents commit motiveless suicide. They discover that an Italian American gangster forms the only connection between the agents and set up a sting in which Craig threatens him, so as to discover his methodology.

Personal Comment: An intriguing story and may I say original in conception, good quality performances by our three agents. Actor Edward Brayshaw is perfect as Del Marco a handsome, cool, calm, devious gangster, who gets what he wants, when he wants it.

18 - "The Interrogation" - Craig is drugged by Tremayne after a successful mission in Hong Kong, and held in a room where he is subject to interrogation by various cruel means. The unnamed interrogator wants information about Craig's last mission. Despite nearing breaking point, Craig escapes the room, only to find he is at Nemesis headquarters; the interrogator is a member of Nemesis internal security, charged with finding out how Craig completed his last mission (his report had been less than clear at certain points, which were where his powers had come into play). Tremayne halts the investigation over the interrogator's protests, but the episode ends with Craig expressing bitterness towards Richard for his failure to intervene; nevertheless, Craig, Richard and Sharron are unhappy with Tremayne due to his part in the interrogation as well.

Personal Comment:
1] This is one of the best episodes of the series; Stuart Damon gives one of his best performances, as this episode centres around him; Colin Blakely as the Interrogator is also superb and also gives a strong and sturdy performance, as a man who loves his job.
2] This episode should have also been placed after `The Search & `The Dark Island'. Why? After this episode's teaser, we see a clip of Sharron from `The Dark Island' and later we see a memory flashback by Craig from `The Search' being shot. But the ITV UK airdates does put `The Interrogation' after these episodes anyway.
3] This was the last episode in the syndication package, and was intended to be the 1st season finale; the characters are left with little if any mutual trust, which is not reflected in any other episodes. If a 2nd season did arise, we would perhaps see the agents trust gradually re-established due to their special abilities, as they need to stick together.
4] With the above, if a 2nd season was planned, the agents may/would have had to tell Tremayne in confidence about their special abilities, so he was no longer ignorant about how they did things on their missions, and the process of any future interrogations nullified.
5] We are given some dates here within the episode, Craig was assigned the `The Retford Case' and arrived in Hong Kong on the 23th (Month not known) to complete the assignment. With the case complete Craig sent a telegram to Richard on Wednesday the 10th, (the current month of this episode, as the `Retford Case' was last month,) that he was coming home, then returned to Nemesis on Friday the 12th and was interrogated for the next three days which included the 12th, as well as the 13th and 14th, and escaped on the 15th. It was within this time frame that Richard and Sharron did their own investigating to find Craig, and it was the 15th that they saw Craig in the room before his escape.
6] We also see another side of the character Tremayne here, as he obviously has no problem in interrogating and cross-examining his agents to get to the truth.
7] Fact File: Craig Sterling - American. Born: 01/12/1939, New York. Trained as a pilot in the Air Force. Joined Nemesis in November 1965 (Date unknown).
8] Stuart Damon's real birth date is 05/02/1937.

14 - "The Search" - Mission Location: Heligoland - After a nuclear submarine is stolen from a NATO Naval Base by ex-Nazis; they are determined to use it to continue the war by blowing up London; our Nemesis trio are tasked with hunting it down before this happens.

Personal Comment:
1] Good story and well-paced episode, excellent performances all-round; again we have another Nazi-type episode that ITV likes to explore in the 1960s.
2] In the beginning teaser we see Captain Conrad Schultz played by Reginald Marsh, look at his watch and we see a date of 26th, (month unknown, but again the year 1967 assumed).
3] Actor Joseph Fürst who plays Dr. Rudolf Mueller, makes his second appearance within this series,; his first was in the `Pilot' episode as Chislenkan.

11 - "The Dark Island" - Mission Location: Unknown/Uncharted Island - The Champions are sent to investigate a tropical island owned by Max Kellor, as a request by the US military who have been unsuccessful in landing and taking pictures of the island.

Personal Comment:
1] This is one of my favourite episodes of the series, due to actor Vladek Sheybal who plays Max Kellor; he plays his role to perfection. The episode is again well-paced and balanced, outstanding performances all-round.
2] As far as I can figure, the possible location of this uncharted island is round about 1500 W - 370 N approximate.
3] If the island is uncharted, Craig and Sharron should have reefed their yacht during the night to make their shipwreck story more credible.
4] It seems China was a concern in the 1960's TV world as a developing Superpower and a threat to world peace; a nation to watch out for, even by today's standards, as troubles in the Middle East covert this country's developments in more ways than one.
5] Watch out for a Australian actor Nick Tate and actor Anthony Ainley (The Master in Dr Who) both are uncredited in the opening teaser.

09 - "The Iron Man"- Mission Location: Costa Brava - Our Nemesis agents are detailed to guard the former dictator of a small South American country, La Revada, who is living in exile. This is because some of his political opponents are planning to assassinate him, which would destabilise the political situation in the region.

Personal Comment:
1] I consider this episode to be the most stupidest filmed, and really not worth it's weight in gold-it could have been done so much better; actor George Murcell who plays El Caudillo does a comedic role of his character and does not make this episode credible in the long run-no offence to George Murcell himself. This is George's first appearance of two within the series.
2] Another actor to mention is Stephen Berkoff who plays Carlos, one of three assassins out to get El Caudillo, does an adequate job in his role.
3] Watch for the close-ups of the clay pigeons dangling on a thin black string (how comical is that).

04 - "The Experiment" - Mission Location: England - Sharron is sent undercover to a training establishment run by Dr. Glind, who is using new techniques to produce agents who have the same level of abilities as the Champions.

Personal Comment:
1] This is a great episode with Sharron taking centre stage for once; a faultless story with talent from all.
2] Actor David Bauer is especially brilliant as Dr. Glind, a hard going and intelligent man, concerned only with achieving the best results from his experiments to ultimately kill our Nemesis agents.
3] Watch out for Nicholas Courtney as Dr. Farlay, it's good to see him outside of Dr. Who.
4] Sharron Macready: Born - 11/05/1942*.
5] Fact File: Sharron Macready - Nemesis ID 506601, Degrees in Biology & Medicine, Hobbies are Fencing, Golf, Mah-jong, Squash and Tennis, (plus she also plays Chess).
6] Alexandra Bastedo's real birth date is 09/03/1946.

12 - "The Fanatics"- Mission Location: England - An unknown organisation led by Croft played by Gerald Harper, (a man who loves power), is assassinating international leaders for the right price.

Personal Comment:
1] Strong story written by Terry Nation (creator of the Daleks), has all the right elements.
2] Other notable actors are Julian Glover as Anderson and Donald Pickering as Col. Banks.

20 - "The Silent Enemy" - Mission Locations: Scotland & Unknown Island - The Champions are sent on a mission to recreate the journey of a submarine, which came into port with all of its crew dead from unknown causes.

Personal Comment:
1] Here we have yet another unknown, uncharted island with an unknown country wanting military advantage-to put it lightly.
2] Notable actors are Paul Maxwell as Capt. Sam Baxter, James Maxwell as Stanton and Marne Maitland as Dr. Minoes.
3] One actor who is uncredited in this episode, which I find quite strange is Stephen Young as the Executive Officer, he was just as important as all the others.

08 - "To Trap a Rat" - Mission Location: England- Our Nemesis agents investigate a successful drug running racket in London that must be stopped before it can be internationally distributed without the world.

Personal Comment:
1] This episode adds a touch of class with actor Guy Wolfe who plays Walter Pelham, his appearance virtually at the end of the episode is quite frankly too short. In all honesty I felt this episode should have been a two-parter; the first part in finding the drug running racket and in the second part dealing with it-thus Guy Wolfe's presence then would be extended into this second episode.
2] Notable actors are Kate O'Mara as drug addict Jane Purcell, and Michael Mellinger (uncredited) as an Ambassador's Staff member helping to smuggle the drugs into the country, seen near the end of the episode in the underground car park scenes. This is his second appearance in the series, his first was in `The Iron Man' as General Tornes.
3] On Walter Pelham's car on the front right windscreen at the end of the episode, as the Nemesis agents take him into custody, we see the car's rego sticker giving a date `Feb 68'; thus confirming this episode to this point was made in 1967.

15 - "The Gilded Cage" - Mission Location: England - After burglars break into Nemesis headquarters to access information on Richard, Craig is assigned to monitor him, thus Richard, however allows himself to be abducted to see where this will lead.

Personal Comment:
1] As with Craig and Sharron, this episode centres on Richard and his special ability in breaking/deciphering codes, which is put to the test.
2] Fact File: One of Richard's favourite classical pieces is Gressini's `The Four Seasons Suite'.

22 - "Get Me Out of Here!" - Mission Location: San Dios - Our Nemesis agents must rescue an eminent female scientist, Anna Maria Martes played by Frances Cuka, who has returned to her home country and been detained against her will by the dictatorship, which runs it.

10 - "The Ghost Plane" - Mission Locations: England, Germany & Albania - The Nemesis agents investigate a mysterious 'ghost plane' which is both faster than anything else in the air and of unknown origin; they must stop a consignment of parts that go into the making of this 'ghost plane' to China.

Personal Comment:
1] Notable actors are Andrew Keir as Dr. John Newman and Hilary Tindall as Vanessa.
2] Watch out for actor Gabor Baraker (uncredited) as Spiegel Hoffman, this is his second appearance within this series; his first was in `The Search' as the Innkeeper.
3] Looks like China is at it again.

23 - "The Night People" - Non-Mission Location: Wales - Richard and Craig investigate Sharron's disappearance while she is on holiday in Cornwall to look at architecture and they come across rumours of witchcraft.

1] To be honest this episode was a little boring story-wise, nothing really special.
2] Look out for actor Frank Thornton (Are You Being Served?) as the Public Records Clerk, the scene gave this episode a touch of humour.
3] Also watch for actor George Roderick (uncredited) in the `'King's Head' Tavern scenes.

13 - "Twelve Hours" - Mission Location: Scotland - The Nemesis agents are assigned to escort an Eastern European head of state, Dubrovnik, on his visit to Britain.

Personal Comment:
1] Richard proves himself as a tough decision maker and strong leader in this episode, going head-to-head with Raven played by Mike Pratt and the rest of the crew. The dramatics and tensions within a submarine setting bring out the best in William Gaunt's character.
2] Richard looks at his watch and a date is shown as the 28th (month unknown), thus it was the 27th that the submarine went down.
3] Watch for a young Australian actor Terence Donovan (uncredited) as the Naval Radio Operator on the Naval Base.

16 - "Shadow of the Panther"- Mission Location: Haiti - While on holiday in Haiti Sharron discovers and investigates a plot to brainwash important figures in the fields of politics, science and business, to make them zombie assassins, apparently orchestrated by a local sorcerer, Damballa.

Personal Comment:
1] One of the most interesting/unusual episodes of the series, and a treat to see Donald Sutherland as David Crayley on TV.
2] This episode should have been placed after `The Silent Enemy' as in this DVD order not in airdate order, as after the teaser, there is a clip of Craig in a fighting scene from `The Silent Enemy'.

26 - "Full Circle"- Mission Location: England - A spy named Westerman played by Payrick Allen, is captured while making his getaway from the Columbrian States Embassy, he manages to dispose of the film that he took by hiding what he was doing there. Craig goes to jail at Birch Hill Prison in an undercover operation as Westerman's cellmate so that he can arrange an escape, take the man with him, and find out who is employing him. But another interested party headed by Booker played by John Nettleton and his lovely assistant Sarah played by Gabrielle Drake are also interested in Westerman, to find out what information he has to con more money out of the Columbrian Ambassador Mr. Garcian played by Martin Benson, who has paid Booker to get Westerman back to the Embassy.

3 - "Reply Box No. 666" - Mission Location: Jamaica - A young explosives expert called Semenkin is found murdered in his Jamaican hotel room whilst posing as a French businessman. In his pocket is a newspaper advertisement reading 'Wanted: A Parrot that Speaks Greek. Reply Box 666' though the sixes have been altered to eights. Realizing it is a secret code, Tremayne sends our Nemesis trio to investigate.

Personal Comment:
1] Actor George Murcell who plays Nikko in this episode, has his second appearance within this series; a much improved performance than El Caudillo in `The Iron Man'.
2] Watch for a change in green scenery when Richard and Sharon are on their boat just before they were to disembark; there is a close up of them with long stem ferns thrashing the sides of the boat, then the scene changes to the river in which we see short leaf round-like bushes on either side. You would think the someone in the `Props' Department would get the right or similar greenery to match the scene, so it wouldn't be out of place.
3] One thing that bugs me, and correct me if I'm wrong, is when I saw this episode in the 70's, I am sure there was a scene at the end of this episode in Tremayne's office, in which Tremayne questions Craig (just before the trio leaves) about his survival from being thrown from the plane (who wouldn't?). Of course the scene isn't there, but maybe it was edited out? Then again could it be my imagination?

24 - "Project Zero" - Mission Location: Scotland/Orkney Islands - Our Nemesis trio are sent to investigate the disappearance of several eminent scientists; the only link is that all of them have recruited to a non-existent government project named "Project Zero".

Personal Comment: Good strong solid episode, excellent performances all-round, very believable.

7 - "The Survivors" - Mission Location: Austria - Our Nemesis agents are sent to investigate the possibility that caches of hidden stolen treasure (although Tremayne thinks it to be guns) that have been left in Austria by the SS when the war was nearing its end at a lake location where three students were found murdered.

Personal Comment:
1] Herewith is another Nazi-type story from WW2, if it wasn't the Chinese trying to dominate the world, we then have the Nazis trying to instead; in any case this is a good episode, no faults here.
2] Actor Clifford Evans is exceptional playing a duel role as Franz Reitz & Col. Reitz, a sign of a high-quality actor playing two roles instead of one.
3] Watch for a young Stephen Yardley as Pieter who is one of the three students that get shot, in the opening teaser.
4] Also of note is actor George Roderick's second appearance, (uncredited) in a bar scene with Sharron, after the teaser.
5] We also get a date when our Nemesis trio enter an Austrian Inn, the 15th on a calendar on the wall, but again no month, but we now know the year as 1967.

21 - "The Body Snatchers" - Mission Location: Wales - Richard goes to Wales to meet Frank a journalist, played by J.G. Devlin, who is currently investigating a secret project at Mellion Research which is experimenting with freezing people at the point of death so that they can be revived once medical technology is advanced enough to help them. Frank is murdered after explaining what he saw and Richard breaks into the building. A scientist Inga Kalmutt played by Ann Lynn tells him that Squires, a man who has taken over her establishment for his own ends, has her father as a hostage whilst she freezes, then revives, General Patterson-whose knowledge of US defence systems is vital to sell to a foreign power.

Personal Comment:
1] Bernard Lee adds a touch of classic villainy to his role as Squires, an unscrupulous leader greedy for money. His portrayal as a bad guy within this episode is surely the best in the series; Bernard is a pure professional and knows how to deliver the goods on screen.
2] This is the second episode screen-played by Terry Nation, and an excellent story to boot.

19 - "The Mission"- Mission Location: England - Our Nemesis agents investigate a medical undercover operation at Winthrop House Mission in Surrey run by an ex-Nazi by the name of Dr. Pederson played by Anthony Bate, who is providing plastic surgery, and hence future anonymity, for international criminals.

29 - "The Gun Runners"- Mission Locations: Burma & Ngano - A cache of Japanese arms from WW2 is unearthed in a Burmese jungle by the recovery team sent to collect them, but they are killed by gun-runners headed by a man named Hartington played by Actor William Franklyn. Thus the consignment of guns ends up in Africa to help in a Civil War; our Nemesis trio, who could not get Hartington in Burma, are sent after him to Africa to prevent the guns being used in the Civil War.

Personal Comment:
1] Actor Eric Young plays a Burmese Police Captain in this episode; this is his second appearance within the series, his first was in the `Pilot' episode as Ho Ling.
2] Also actor David Lodge makes his second appearance as Filmer; his first was in the episode `The Night People' as Porth.

27 - "The Nutcracker" - Mission Location: England - After a trip to the dentist, a government minister Lord Mauncey played by David Langton, enters a secret vault (located underneath a tailor's shop) and attempts to steal the F File, which contains the country's most important defence information. He is gassed before he can leave and captured by Major Duncan, head of M7 played by William Squire . Duncan calls in the Champions to see if they can steal the file, proving the need for a better security system.

Personal Comment:
1] Nice to see actor David Langton outside his `Upstairs Downstairs' career before it began.
2] Although all three agents are involved, in this episode Richard gets most of the attention; I have notice that Craig and Richard seem to get more stories centred around them than Sharron, with slightly more exposure with actor Stuart Damon, this is probably because in order for the series to be successful in America, it had to have an American star.

28 - "The Final Countdown"- Mission Location: Germany - After twenty-five years in prison for war crimes Nazi Field Marshall von Splitz played by Alan McNaughtan is released from a Russian Prison. Now he and his followers are anxious to trace a `V4' Atom Bomb, jettisoned from a stricken Heinkel in the last days of WWII, headed for London. Having questioned and killed two former Luftwaffe pilots they find it in a lake in Germany and intend to detonate it to start WWIII. Our Nemesis trio are in a race against time to locate the bomb and stop it from exploding.

Personal Comment:
1] Well it's the ex-Nazi's turn instead of China to start WWIII against USA & USSR.
2] A good, strong and excellent story and a very plausible one, since Germany was making technological progress before the war ended; if WWII in Europe lasted perhaps just one more year, I suspect Germany may have had enough time to turn things around-but only just.
3] On Craig's watch as he looks at the time while the trio are in the room with the bomb, it states that it is the 27th; again we don't know the month.
4] Fact File: Craig has an uncle, and was in a Bomb Disposal Unit during WWII.

5 - "Happening"- Mission Location: Australia - Richard is in Australia and has infiltrated a terrorist group who have planted a radioactive device in the Simpson Desert. He attempts to arrest them whilst in a helicopter, but falls out and when he comes to he has lost his memory. He comes across a derelict bar, meeting an old prospector, Banner B. Banner, played by Jack MacGowran, who has refused to move out despite government warnings of nuclear test that is about to happen soon in the area. Meanwhile Tremayne, Craig and Sharron also go to Australia to observe the nuclear test; but Craig and Sharron are helpless in stopping the nuclear test so Richard can be found.

Personal Comment:
1] Just like Craig surviving a fall from a plane, Richard survives falling from a helicopter, being a super human seems to have its advantages.
2] Good to see actor Grant Taylor as General Winters, outside the `UFO' series, from which I remember him from.

25 - "Desert Journey" - Mission Locations: Italy & Kasfareet/El Hari - In order to restore stability to a small cobalt-rich Middle Eastern principality on the verge of civil war, our Nemesis agents kidnap the son of the former Bey played by Jeremy Brett, who is leading a self-indulgent life as an exile in Rome. Craig and Sharron fly the Bey back to his home, but are forced to land due to a sand storm and have to cross the desert (the "journey" of the title) to get him to Kasfareet.

Personal Comment:
1] This is a great episode, and has all the right elements to make it a good quality story, no faults here.
2] I like Roger Delgado as the Prime Minister Yussef, I mainly know him from Dr Who playing the original Master.
3] Watch for an uncredited actor Rudolph Walker (Love Thy Neighbour) as a soldier guarding the conference door in the teaser.

30 - "Autokill"- Mission Location: Switzerland - Barka played by Eric Pohlmann is using a lethal hallucinogenic drug to brainwash Nemesis agents and use them as assassins to bring down the Nemesis organization. Thus George Brading played by Richard Owens, a Nemesis agent, goes missing for two days and when he re-surfaces, shoots an American officer in the Nemesis headquarters; some time afterwards, he dies. Later Tremayne goes missing but comes back and tries to kill Dr. Amis played by Harold Innocent, who was looking after George Brading. Craig, Richard and Sharron are now working against the clock to find an antidote. During the course of their investigations, Richard acts as a decoy by having his wallet stolen. He is taken to a police station by a bogus police officer Klein played by Paul Eddington; and subjected to the same treatment as was George and Tremayne; the target he is given is to eliminate is Craig Stirling.

Personal Comment:
1] This is a brilliant episode to end the series with, and the climax is the best of the series with Champion vs. Champion. Brian Clemens wrote this episode his second for the series, his first was `The Happening', but I consider `Autokill' the superior of the two by a long shot.
2] Eric Pohlmannn is excellent here, and has much more to do in this episode than his previous outing in `Get Me Out of Here!' where he played the Minister.
3] I honestly believe this episode should have been a two-parter, the first part centring on George Brading and Barka's organization, then the second part dealing with Tremayne's disappearance and Richard's brainwashing-leading up to the classic climax.
4] Fact File: Richard's father is a Banker.
5] Fact File: Richard Barrett - born in (29/01*) 1938, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.
6] William Gaunt's real birth date is 03/04/1937.

* Character dates done by the author.

Now let's look at what Extra's this 9 Disc set has:

Disc 1 -

1] Commentary by Alexandra Bastedo, Stuart Damon & William Guant on the episode `The Beginning'.
2] Variant `Unaired' Version of `The Beginning'.

Disc 8 -

1] Commentary by Alexandra Bastedo, Stuart Damon & William Guant on the episode `Autokill'.
2] Commentary by Malcolm Christopher, Ken Baker & Roy Ward Baker (Director) on the episode `Autokill'.
3] `We Were The Champions' Documentary.
4] Artists' Tests.
5] Image Gallery with exclusive Edwin Astley Music Suite.

Disc 9 -

1] The Legend of the Champions (Movie).
2] Episodic Trailer Gallery.
3] Generic Trailers and Channel 9 Intros.**
4] Variant Title Sequence.
5] Original Commercial Break Bumpers.
6] Merchandise Image Gallery.
7] Annual Material PDF (which can be accessed via your PC).

** I have via another `Champions' DVD set a Generic non-Channel 9 Intros, which is not on this set. (Heaven knows why).

What No Booklet?

Surprise, surprise, no booklet to accompany this DVD set. I just can't understand why various TV series released on DVD, just don't come with a booklet? It would be good if we have a decent booklet full of information and photo's about each episode. My only thought on why, is simply a cost-cutting measure, but I wouldn't mind spending just a little extra, if it enhances my experience of the series on offer. I do feel the DVD is incomplete without a booklet full of information-it's like buying a music CD without its booklet not knowing what songs are on it.

Well. all in all this series for me is excellent, and having this DVD series in my collection was a must; I truly recommend this show, if you are looking for something just a little bit different, or perhaps just curious, then `The Champions' is the series for you. Every time I watch this series it seems to be getting better and better; sure the show maybe dated, but it is the strength of it's three stars, that make it work, and their on-screen chemistry is outstanding, coupled with great storylines, thus I failed to see why this show did not continue. If `The Champions' were produced today, I dare say, seven seasons would have been the go. I can definitely say that I prefer 60' and 70's style TV show outings- with a splash of some 80's thrown in, than what's on TV today-different eras, different mindset, different ways of looking at things.

`The Champions' is a cult classic and worthy of ownership, get your copy and enjoy.

Thanks to Wikipedia, other Internet sources and `The Champions' DVD of the series for additional information.
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on 20 February 2011
Birthday Present Review

Over to my wife for her review ...

My in-laws always ask if there's anything I'd like for my birthday (they don't do surprises) and last year I told my husband that when I was 8 I was in love with Stuart Damon from the Champions and I'd seen the complete box set was now available on Amazon...

Hubby had never heard of the series - being a few years younger he'd missed it and had never caught a repeat. I'd never seen the repeat, being at work at the time it was supposedly shown. So I explained the premise of the series as I recalled it from (loud cough) over 35 years earlier - and how it was an absolute favourite of mine. I told him the characters had super senses but in a realistic un- silly way.

For some reason I remember little snippets - Sharron flicking through a book and then having perfect recall. It was so realistic, that I thought I'd better have a go myself - so with my copy of Alison Uttley's "A Traveller in Time" which was my book of the moment, I flicked through and couldn't see any words at all, just a blur, so alas I'd not been turned into a Champion in my sleep after all!

The adult me though is on episode four so far and having a wonderful time. Hubby has watched them all with me, so it's male-friendly too. I've been entertained just as much as when I was 8 and now I can understand all of the plotlines (yep there were some!) I can appreciate the inter-cast rapport and humour, and enjoy the 1960's unique colour palette on film. I'm so glad that this series was made just before those 1970's fashions came in. When Roger Moore became James Bond in bell-bottoms and huge ties, it looked very funny. The Champions thankfully come very well dressed. Always was impressed by a neat guy in a suit (my dad used to wear a suit for work, so he naturally set the standard). I thought Alexandra Bastedo was very calm and collected and best of all, sensible. I appreciated sensible, as I was rather a sensible child myself, but not averse to a bit of magic and mystery at the same time. I didn't quite know what to make of her (I hadn't yet encountered a "blonde" before her, and it was the first time I'd seen a beehive) but I decided I liked all of the Champions and they were all worthy heroes. As for Richard Barrett - it was his voice that I especially found kind of enchanting, it was just so unique! I found myself especially drawn to his intonation and raspiness!

This series is from a golden era of imaginative tv. Plus when you're 8, it's always good to know who the "goodies" and who the "baddies" were. It's far more complicated today. The huge map in Tremayne's office basically shows you where "Russia" was, and where "China" was - and that's all you basically needed to know!

All in all, this is an excellent value set, and the reproduction standard is excellent. I like the fact that there's the intro, the great theme music and then you're into the story. You get the end credits per episode too. Some series' on dvd just give you the theme music at the beginning of the dvd and each episode then runs into each other. I feel cheated, it's just not the same! But this set gives you the thrill of it being just as it was broadcast - but with the bonus of no adverts.
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Back in the 1960's the tv company ITC would make thriller series that often had a touch of the fantastical about them, such as Randall and Hopkirk [Deceased] or Department S.

Another of their shows was the Champions. The story of three secret agents: Craig Stirling [Tough american] Richard Barrett [well spoken but also quite tough british man] and biologist sharon macready [tough when they allowed her to be]. They work for a special international law enforcement agency called NEMESIS which has a base in Geneva and they answer to a man called Tremaine. When the plane they use to escape from a mission in china crashes in the himalayas they are found by members of an ancient civilisation who nurse the back to health. And give them special powers also.

Once back in europe the powers come in very handy with future missions. Not that they tell Tremaine about them...

The thirty episodes of the show, each running roughly fifty minutes, are presented here spread across eight discs.

There are no subtitles.

The only language option is english.

Each episode tells a complete story of a mission for the three agents. It's typical television of it's time period in many ways. Some involve plots that could easily have been done on episodes of the saint, but others do use the basic format very well. This hasn't dated quite as well as some, not least because Sharon would be a much tougher character than she is here in anything made nowadays. And also like other shows of the period it's not often the paciest television compared to what modern audiences are used to.

But what modern audiences all too often don't get is good action and escapism. And the champions provides all that and more. It's never too fantastical as it keeps itself very grounded in the real world and the powers are only used sparingly. But if you can enjoy it for what it is and make allowances for it's age and the time period it came from, then it's good entertainment. With a very eye catching and memorable title sequence and a superb theme tune.

Extras on the dvds are as follows:

A commentary from the three lead actors on the first and last episodes.

A commentary on the last episode from some of the production staff.

An alternate version of the first episode, which was designed so that it could slot in anywhere in a repeat run. The only difference is a very short opening sequence which has the three agents making a tape recording of the story of how they got their powers.

A thirty eight minute long documentary seeing the three stars reunited and remembering the show, and with some of the crew doing the same. An excellent and entertaining watch.

A couple of minutes worth of the original screen tests that the actors did when auditioning. There are some minor differences between them and what got to screen.

Roughly half an hours worth of the shows music, both title theme and incidentals, over a huge set of photos from the episodes and of them being made.

The legend of the champions: an eighty minute long feature film version of the pilot episode and one other one that edits them together to form a complete feature.

Adcaps: the shots used at the start and end of each commercial break.

Alternative title sequence: the title sequence with another bit of music that could have been the main theme. Frankly seeing it without the broadcast version doesn't feel right.

Eighteen short trailers for various episodes, which you can play with either a british or an american voiceover.

Four short trailers for the series itself. Each is just a longer version of the previous one.

Four short trailers the cast recorded for broadcast on a foreign channel.

A gallery showing merchandise relating to the show. One part of this, pages from a comic annual, can be viewed close up as a PDF file by putting the disc onto a computer. You won't be able to read the wording in the section of the gallery, so this is the only way to do so.

Classic escapist tv. In a handsome box set. With all the extras possible. A fine collection and yours to treasure forever.
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