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By Wikipedia

The Protectors was a British television series, an action thriller created by Gerry Anderson - his second TV series using live actors as opposed to animated puppets, and the first of these that was not science fiction. It was produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment production company. 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 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 (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) as Harry Rule, Nyree Dawn Porter (The Forsyte Saga) as the Contessa Caroline di Contini, and Tony Anholt (Space: 1999) as Paul Buchet. The three were international private detectives/troubleshooters who belonged to an organization called The Protectors. The format of the series allowed for occasional episodes in which not all of the main actors appear, including at least one episode in which Vaughn's character is absent.

The theme tune for the series, "Avenues and Alleyways", was a minor hit for Tony Christie. Episodes often featured prominent guest actors. 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 and Paris, giving the series a sixties "jet set" feel (it was also the first Anderson production to have such a luxury). Some critics feel that the series has dated badly, with weak plots used as an excuse to string together the location footage.

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 on with the other actors. Vaughn claims that he felt the series was "tasteless junk", and that he couldn't 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'd ever seen of anything.

Despite not featuring puppets or any real science fiction elements, The Protectors became one of Anderson's most popular productions, easily winning a renewal for a second season, and a third was in the planning stages when the show's major sponsor pulled out, forcing its cancellation.

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Aired: 1972-1973

Cast: Robert Vaughn, Nyree Dawn Porter, Tony Anholt

Network: ITV

Genre: Adventure

Theme song: 'Avenues and Alleyways' by Tony Christie

Image courtesy of ITV

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