The Protectors

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The Protectors
Series title over an image of Robert Vaughn and the Houses of Parliament
Created byGerry Anderson
StarringRobert Vaughn
Nyree Dawn Porter
Tony Anholt
Anthony Chinn
Yasuko Nagazumi
Theme music composerMitch Murray
Peter Callender
Opening theme"Avenues and Alleyways" Instrumental
Ending theme"Avenues and Alleyways" sung by Tony Christie
Composer(s)John Cameron
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series2
No. of episodes52 (list of episodes)
Producer(s)Gerry Anderson
Reg Hill
CinematographyBrendan J. Stafford
Frank Watts
Editor(s)Mike Campbell
David Lane
Bert Rule
John S. Smith
Camera setupSingle
Running time25 mins approx. per episode
(excluding advertisements)
Production company(s)Group Three Productions
DistributorITC Entertainment
Original networkATV
Picture formatFilm (16 and 35 mm) 4:3 Colour
Audio formatMono
Original release29 September 1972 (1972-09-29) –
15 March 1974 (1974-03-15)

The Protectors is a British television series, an action thriller created by Gerry Anderson. It was Anderson's second TV series to exclusively use live actors as opposed to marionettes (following UFO), and 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, Brut, ended its funding and thus forced the series' cancellation.

The Protectors was first broadcast 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 (co-star of The Forsyte Saga) as the Contessa Caroline di Contini, and Tony Anholt (later to star in Space: 1999 and Howards' 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 organisation called The Protectors, based in London. Harry Rule 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 co-producer Gerry Anderson, the show's format was outlined in a brief note that Lew 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 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). 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 35mm.

The episodes aimed at fast-paced action set against an international background, incorporating elements from both private-eye detective shows and espionage shows, but within a half-hour format. The lack of screen time, compared with the 50-minute timeslot used by shows like The Persuaders! or Department S, resulted in plots that were rather simplistic, with motivation and characterisation sacrificed for action, owing to the writers having to cram as much as possible into a 25-minute timeslot and still produce gripping television. Accordingly, the series suffered from most of the same drawbacks that beset The Adventurer, another half-hour ITC show that aired at the same time.

The theme tune of the series, "Avenues and Alleyways", was a minor hit for Tony Christie (and was successfully revived by Christie in the 2000s, thanks in part to its use in the soundtrack to the film Love, Honour and Obey). This was the first Anderson series not to feature music composed by Barry Gray.

Courtfield Mews, London SW5 was used as the filming location for The Protectors headquarters.[1]

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"). This highlights another snag which bedevilled the show: its English title, The Protectors, could imply that Robert Vaughn was playing a bodyguard, in a more serious version of the 1980s ITV show Minder, but very few of the episodes cast Vaughn's team in the role of bodyguards: hence the title made little sense, and was actually misleading for casual viewers. (A similar issue relates to the title of the TV series, The Avengers; beyond a story arc at the very beginning of the series in 1961, the lead characters were primarily investigators and rarely actually "avenged" anyone.)

As was the case for most of Anderson's series, in the United States the series was not broadcast on network television, but aired instead in first-run syndication. This made it more difficult for the show to make any impact in America, despite its popular American star, and this hurt its overseas sales.

Actor relationships[edit]

According to Robert Vaughn's autobiography, there were many problems between the actor and both the show's financier, Lew Grade, and its co-producer, Gerry Anderson. Anderson claimed in his own autobiography that Vaughn acted like a Hollywood prima donna and refused to get along with the other actors;[citation needed] but John Hough (who directed several episodes, and the opening title sequence of the series) had many more problems with Vaughn's business partner, Sherwood Price, than with Vaughn himself.[2] 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—number 23 in production order, "It Could Be Practically Anywhere on the Island". Although Vaughn had a better relationship with Grade, the mogul called "It Could Be Practically..." the worst episode he had ever seen of anything;[citation needed] Vaughn himself was less than fond of it. To understand Vaughn's jaundiced opinion of the script, it needs to be realised that he was asked to direct a story devoted to the search of a large island for a stolen microfilm swallowed by a dog, and 'deposited' by said dog (i.e. excreted) in an unknown locale that might be anywhere on the island.

Anderson's relationship with series regular Tony Anholt was a more positive one, and a few years later he cast the actor as Tony Verdeschi in the second series of Space: 1999.


Series 1 (1972–73)[edit]

No. Title Directed by[3] Written by[3] Original air date Production
1"2000 ft to Die"John HoughTerence Feely29 September 1972 (1972-09-29)1
Scientist Freddie Reiwald contacts the Protectors when his colleagues at the Cranston Research Centre die in suspicious circumstances. In Italy, Harry and Caroline discover that an unknown party has completed Reiwald's research into the production of synthetic gold—and now Reiwald's daughter's life is in danger.
2"Brother Hood"Don ChaffeyJohn Goldsmith6 October 1972 (1972-10-06)2
The Protectors are hired to break a billionare's brother out of prison. Guest-starring Patrick Troughton and Vladek Sheybal.
3"See No Evil"Jeremy SummersDonald Johnson13 October 1972 (1972-10-13)10
The Protectors, attempting to guard an Italian senator in Rome, find a blackmailer who has got out of control. Guest-starring James Bolam.
4"Disappearing Trick"Jeremy SummersBrian Clemens20 October 1972 (1972-10-20)3
The Contessa risks her life when a deceptive new client uses her to escape the police. Guest-starring Derren Nesbitt.
5"Ceremony for the Dead"Jeremy SummersDonald James27 October 1972 (1972-10-27)26
The Protectors are hired to stop the kidnapping of a president.
6"It Was All Over in Leipzig"Don ChaffeyDonald James3 November 1972 (1972-11-03)25
Whilst investigating a plot to overthrow the government of a Mediterranean nation, the Protectors end up confronting two old friends of the Contessa, one of whom she was once romantically involved with. Guest-starring Ron Randell.
7"The Quick Brown Fox"Don ChaffeyDonald James10 November 1972 (1972-11-10)5
The Protectors are hired to help find a missing band of Nazis. Guest-starring Morris Perry.
8"King Con"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick17 November 1972 (1972-11-17)12
The Protectors find themselves in the middle of a war over some antiques. Guest-starring Anton Rodgers.
9"Thinkback"Cyril FrankelBrian Clemens24 November 1972 (1972-11-24)14
Harry is the victim of a car crash. But was it an accident?
10"A Kind of Wild Justice"Jeremy SummersDonald James1 December 1972 (1972-12-01)8
The daughter of a gangster returns after his death to kill Harry. Or does she?
11"Balance of Terror"Don ChaffeyJohn Goldsmith8 December 1972 (1972-12-08)11
A scientist disappears with a deadly biological weapon. The first the Protectors know of this is when the KGB breaks into Harry's flat to tell them. Guest-starring Nigel Green and Laurence Naismith.
12"Triple Cross"John HoughLew Davidson15 December 1972 (1972-12-15)7
A charming charlatan cons Caroline's friend. Guest-starring John Neville and Peter Bowles.
13"The Numbers Game"Don ChaffeyRalph Smart29 December 1972 (1972-12-29)6
14"For the Rest of Your Natural…"John HoughTony Barwick5 January 1973 (1973-01-05)18
Caroline is abducted by an old enemy who sends her for a bizarre trial.
15"The Bodyguards"Don ChaffeyDennis Spooner12 January 1973 (1973-01-12)19
16"A Matter of Life and Death"Don ChaffeyDonald James19 January 1973 (1973-01-19)22
17"The Big Hit"Roy Ward BakerDonald James26 January 1973 (1973-01-26)13
Someone is out to destroy the Protectors.
18"One and One Makes One"Don ChaffeyJesse & Pat Lasky2 February 1973 (1973-02-02)9
A spy goes missing with crucial information. The Protectors are tasked with finding him—but is he still alive? Guest-starring Michael Gough and Georgia Brown.
19"Talkdown"Jeremy SummersJesse & Pat Lasky9 February 1973 (1973-02-09)20
20"Vocal"Cyril FrankelBrian Clemens16 February 1973 (1973-02-16)24
21"…With a Little Help from My Friends"Jeremy SummersSylvia Anderson23 February 1973 (1973-02-23)17
22"Chase"Harry BoothBrian Clemens2 March 1973 (1973-03-02)16
A relaxing time for Caroline and Harry.
23"Your Witness"Jeremy SummersDonald James9 March 1973 (1973-03-09)4
24"It Could Be Practically Anywhere on the Island"Robert VaughnTony Barwick16 March 1973 (1973-03-16)23
In Malta, Harry gets involved with an Arkansas millionairess, her pet dog, and a piece of microfilm. (Other than the Police Woman episode "The Melting Point Of Ice", this is Robert Vaughn's only directorial credit; it is also the only episode of any Gerry Anderson series directed by a member of the cast.)
25"The First Circle"Don ChaffeyTony Barwick23 March 1973 (1973-03-23)15
Vietnam War veteran John Hunter (Ed Bishop), deranged by his experiences, goes berserk.
26"A Case for the Right"Michael Lindsay-HoggJesse & Pat Lasky30 March 1973 (1973-03-30)21

Series 2 (1973–74)[edit]

No. Title Directed by[3] Writer[3] Original air date Production
1"Quin"Don LeaverTrevor Preston21 September 1973 (1973-09-21)4
A notorious mercenary, Quin, has recruited Jimmy, the brother of Laura Sutton, who contacts the Protectors when Jimmy disappears. A trail of evidence leads Harry and Caroline from Marseilles to Madrid, where Harry is abducted by Quin's cronies.
2"Bagman"John HoughTerry Nation28 September 1973 (1973-09-28)1
3"Fighting Fund"Jeremy SummersJohn Kruse5 October 1973 (1973-10-05)3
4"The Last Frontier"Charles CrichtonJean Morris12 October 1973 (1973-10-12)8
5"Baubles, Bangles and Beads"Jeremy SummersTerry Nation19 October 1973 (1973-10-19)9
6"Petard"Cyril FrankelTony Barwick26 October 1973 (1973-10-26)10
7"Goodbye George"Michael Lindsay-HoggBrian Clemens2 November 1973 (1973-11-02)6
Caroline is hired to locate the missing son of a millionaire. (This and "The Tiger And The Goat" are the only episodes in which Robert Vaughn does not appear.)
8"WAM (Part One)"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick9 November 1973 (1973-11-09)13
9"WAM (Part Two)"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick16 November 1973 (1973-11-16)14
10"Implicado"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick23 November 1973 (1973-11-23)7
11"Dragon Chase"Charles CrichtonJohn Kruse30 November 1973 (1973-11-30)15
12"Decoy"Michael Lindsay-HoggBrian Clemens7 December 1973 (1973-12-07)17
13"Border Line"Charles CrichtonAnthony Terpiloff14 December 1973 (1973-12-14)12
14"Zeke's Blues"Jeremy SummersShane Rimmer21 December 1973 (1973-12-21)16
15"Lena"Don LeaverTrevor Preston28 December 1973 (1973-12-28)5
16"The Bridge"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick4 January 1974 (1974-01-04)2
17"Sugar and Spice"Charles CrichtonDavid Butler11 January 1974 (1974-01-11)20
18"Burning Bush"Don LeaverTrevor Preston18 January 1974 (1974-01-18)11
19"The Tiger and the Goat"Jeremy SummersTrevor Preston25 January 1974 (1974-01-25)23
20"Route 27"Don LeaverTerry Nation1 February 1974 (1974-02-01)26
21"Trial"Charles CrichtonRobert Banks Stewart8 February 1974 (1974-02-08)25
22"Shadbolt"John HoughTony Barwick15 February 1974 (1974-02-15)19
23"A Pocketful of Posies"Cyril FrankelTerry Nation22 February 1974 (1974-02-22)18
Famous singer Carrie Blaine (Eartha Kitt, in a role for which Shirley Bassey was originally cast)[3] fears she's losing her mind when peculiar things start happening around her.
24"Wheels"David TomblinTony Barwick1 March 1974 (1974-03-01)22
25"The Insider"Don LeaverTrevor Preston8 March 1974 (1974-03-08)24
26"Blockbuster"Jeremy SummersShane Rimmer15 March 1974 (1974-03-15)21

Home media[edit]

ITV Studios Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Region 2 in 2002/2003.

Network Distributing released a seven-disc Region 2 DVD set in 2010, comprising both series.

In Region 1, A&E Home Video, under license from Carlton International Media Limited, released the entire 52-episode collection of this classic ‘70s international action thriller contemporary cult series on DVD for the first time ever in two complete season sets in 2003/2004.[4][5]

On 10 September 2014, it was announced that Visual Entertainment had acquired the rights to the series in Region 1, and would re-release all 52 episodes on DVD on 4 November 2014.


In 2009 Network released a five-disc set of music recorded for the series, featuring Tony Christie's "Avenues and Alleyways", library music and scores for 13 episodes composed by John Cameron, and Eartha Kitt's rendition of "My Man's Gone Now" for the episode "A Pocketful of Posies".


  1. ^ Mews News. Lurot Brand. Published Spring 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  2. ^ Sellers, Robert (2006). Cult TV: The Golden Age Of ITC. Plexus. ISBN 0859653889.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Bentley, Chris (2008) [2001]. The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide (4 ed.). Richmond, London: Reynolds and Hearn. ISBN 978-1-905287-74-1.
  4. ^ The Protectors – Season One
  5. ^ The Protectors – Season Two

External links[edit]