Champions, The

Tagged: TV

UK tv series (1968-1969). ITC Entertainment for ITV network UK, NBC-TV US. Created by Monty Berman and Dennis Spooner (1932-1986). Directors included Roy Ward Baker, Cyril Frankel, John Llewellyn Moxey, and Don Sharp. Writers included Brian Clemens, Donald James, Terry Nation, Spooner and Tony Williams. Cast includes Alexandra Bastedo, Stuart Damon, William Gaunt and Anthony Nicholls. 30 60-minute episodes. Colour.

Counter-espionage agents Craig Stirling (Damon), Sharron Macready (Bastedo) and Richard Barrett (Gaunt) work for the international agency Nemesis based in Geneva, Switzerland. Escaping from mainland China on their first assignment as a team, their aeroplane is damaged and crashes in the Tibetan Himalayas. The three are rescued by a Lost Race living deep in the mountains, which grants them various Superpowers including Telepathy and Telekinesis; other human abilities are maximized to give superhuman strength, hearing, and so on. Returning, they continue their Nemesis assignments around the world as directed by Commander W L Tremayne (Nicholls), usually dealing with routine espionage issues and the occasional rogue Nazi group. Less conventional encounters include Mad Scientists with highly advanced Weapons, seemingly supernatural phenomena, and an illegal Cryonics project putting people into Suspended Animation against their will.

Damon was the best known team member in the US, for his long-running role in the Television soap opera General Hospital (1963-current), which lasted until 2013. ITC edited together the Champions episode "The Beginning" (25 September 1968) – the scene-setting introduction – and "The Interrogation" (29 January 1969) into the internationally distributed film Legend of the Champions (1983). A feature film remake was announced in late 2007; nothing more has been heard of this. At least one Tie novelization exists, The Sixth Sense is Death (1969) by John Garforth, based on "The Beginning" and "The Experiment" (16 October 1968), the latter featuring a Scientist working to create similarly superpowered agents. The series should not be confused with the Marvel Comics Superhero team title The Champions (seventeen issues October 1975-January 1978), an unsuccessful Comics effort to duplicate the success of Marvel's The Avengers (1963-current). [GSt/DRL]

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