• title card: white all caps text reading ‘THE TALE OF THE BIG WHY BY BRIAN CLEMENS’ superimposed on a view over the handlebars of a trailbike, a blue truck almost completely blocking the road ahead
  • Roach and Poole completely strip Brandon’s car, leaving the pieces strewn all over the yelow, mown grass of a fieldb
  • The paperback book from Braqndon’s package, ‘The Tale of the Big Y’ sits on top of a map of the area. The book’s cover is red with white text and has a sepia drawing of three cowboys before some mountains, rounding up a cow which is branded with a Y on the rump
  • Gambit stands before his white Range Rover, pointing his revolver to the left
  • Turner climbs into a red biplane in order to escape
  • A blurry black and white photo, but it shows Harmer handing over documents to the enemy clearly enough for his to be guilty

The New Avengers, Series 1 — Episode 8
The Tale of the Big Why

by Brian Clemens
Directed by Robert Fuest

Production details

Produced:October, 1976

Regional broadcasts

Thames Television7/12/19768:00pm
ATV Midlands10/12/19768:00pm
Granada Television10/12/19768:00pm
Anglia Television7/12/19768:00pm
Border Television10/12/19768:00pm
Channel Television10/12/19768:00pm
Grampian Television10/12/19768:00pm
Southern Television10/12/19768:00pm
Scottish Television10/12/19768:00pm
Tyne Tees Television10/12/19768:00pm
Ulster Television10/12/19768:00pm
Westward Television10/12/19768:00pm
Harlech Television27/03/19777:25pm
Yorkshire Television10/12/19768:00pm

TV Times listing

TV Times listing for December 7 1976, 8pm (London edition)
Sydney Morning Herald listing for March 23 1977, 8.30pm
The Age listing for March 23 1977, 8.30pm

8.0 The New Avengers
Patrick Macnee
Gareth Hunt
Joanna Lumley
Tale of the Big Why

By Brian Clemens

What was the secret Burt Brandon kept to himself during a prison term? It was valuable enough for someone to kill him and for John Steed, Mike Gambit and Purdey to risk their lives to find it before two Eastern European spies.

The exciting TVTimes souvenir extra The New Avengers is on sale at your newsagents, price 40p.

John Steed Patrick Macnee
Mike Gambit Gareth Hunt
Purdey Joanna Lumley
Harmer Derek Waring
Irene Jenny Runacre
Brandon George Cooper
Turner Roy Marsden
Roach Gary Waldhorn
Poole Rowland Davis
Minister Geoffrey Toone
Mrs. Turner Maeve Alexander

Director Robert Fuest; Producers Albert Fennell, Brian Clemens

International broadcasts

ABN2 Sydney, Australia23/03/19778:30pm
ABV2 Melbourne, Australia23/03/19778:30pm
ABC New York, USA2/02/197911:30pm
TF1 France29/01/19779:30pm
Suisse Romande, Switzerland29/03/19778:20pm
French titleLa grande interrogation
ZDF Germany27/07/19789:45pm
German titleDas geheimnisvolle Ypsilon
KRO Netherlands25/11/19768:25pm
Dutch titleHet grote waarom
Italian titleStoria di ipsilon
Spanish title

ZDF in Germany cancelled the broadcast of this episode and then cancelled the entire series (see below). There is anecdotal evidence that in June ARD cancelled The Midas Touch hours before it was scheduled to be broadcast.

Spain chose not to broadcast this episode.

Switzerland: L’Impartial listing, photo and summary for March 29 1977, 8.20pm
USA: Chicago Tribune listing for February 2 1979, 10.30pm
France: Gazette de Lausanne listing for January 29 1977, 9.30pm
Netherlands: Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant episode summary for November 25 1976, 8.25pm
Italy: Stampa Sera episode summary
Italy: La Stampa listing for July 27 1978, 10.05pm
Italy: Radiocorriere summary and listing for July 27 1978, 10.05pm
Switzerland: Journal de Jura episode summary and photo
Germany: Hamburg Abendblatt announces the cancellation of The New Avengers on July 27 1978

The full text of the German cancellation article:

Aktion „Sauberer Bildschirm” fordert heute das erste Opfer: …27.07.1978
John Steed muß die Melone nehmen - Tom Jones kommt als „Ersatzmann”

Der Beschluß der ARD-Intendanten, die Gewalt am Bildschirm drastisch einzudämmen, zeigt erste Wirkungen. Ab sofort bleibt der Donnerstag krimifrei. Erstes Opfer der Aktion „Sauberer Bildschirm”: die heutige Folge der Krimi- Reihe „Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone”. Sie sollte um 21.45 Uhr gezeigt werden. Statt dessen wird nun die Aufzeichnung einer Show mit Tom Jones ins Programm gerückt.

Auch der „Chef” wird nun donnerstags nicht, wie geplant, im Rollstuhl auf Gauner jagd gehen dürfen. Vom 31. August an sollte die beliebte Reihe wiederholt werden. Die erste Folge fällt nun dem Sport zum Opfer ? die ARD berichtet von der Leichtathletik-Europameisterschaft und von der Schwimm-Weltmeisterschaft.

„Das heißt für die Zukunft aber keineswegs, daß die Zuschauer ganz auf den ‚Chef’ oder andere Krimis verzichten müssen”, erläutert ARD-Pro grammdirektor Dietrich Schwarzkopf den Anti-Gewaltbeschluß der Intendanten.

„Und wir schalten auch nicht auf den total gewaltlosen Krimi um. Es geht vor 1 allem um eine Reduzierung der Krimis überhaupt.”

Das heißt: Pro Jahr werden die 13 Serien-Termine, die am Donnerstag um 21.45 Uhr für Krimis vorgesehen waren, und 26 Wiederholungstermine am späten Abend (23 Uhr) mit anderen Programmen gefüllt. Wann der „Chef”, John Steed, Purdey und Mike Gambit künftig zum Einsatz kommen, steht noch nicht fest. Schwarzkopf: „Wir prüfen, ob sie für andere Sendeplätze, etwa den späten Freitagabend, geeignet sind. Aber auch dann werden wir jede Folge noch einmal vorher anschauen.” . Auch das ZDF folgt nun dem Beispiel der ARD. Die für den Nachmittag geplante Westernserie „Josh” (mit US-Star Steve McQueen in der Rolle eines Kopfgeldjägers) erschien den Mainzer Programmverantwortlichen plötzlich als zu brutal. Von 17.10 Uhr soll „Josh” nun, laut ZDF-Pressechef Dr. Fritz Hufen, in den späten Abend rutschen. Die Nachmittagssendezeit bezeichnete Hufen als „Dispositionsfehler”, da die Serie in die „Empfindlichkeitszone” (in der die Kinder am Bildschirm sitzen) geraten sei. JA.

Action “clean screen” claims the first victim today: …27.07.1978
John Steed has to remove his bowler hat - Tom Jones comes as a “substitute”

The decision of the ARD directors to drastically curb violence on the screen is showing its first effects. From now on, Thursday will remain crime-free. First victim of the “clean screen” campaign: today’s episode of the crime series “The New Avengers”. It was supposed to be shown at 9:45 p.m. Instead, the recording of a show with Tom Jones will now be included in the program.

Even the “boss” will not be allowed to hunt crooks in a wheelchair on Thursdays, as planned. From August 31, the popular series should be repeated. The first episode now falls victim to sport? the ARD reports from the European Athletics Championships and the Swimming World Championships.

“But that doesn’t mean for the future that viewers will have to do without ‘Chef’ or other thrillers entirely,” says ARD program director Dietrich Schwarzkopf, explaining the directors’ anti-violence decision.

“And we’re not switching to totally non-violent crime shows either. It’s primarily about reducing crime shows in general.”

That means: per year, the 13 series dates that were scheduled for thrillers on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. and 26 repeat dates on late evening (11pm) filled with other programs. It is not yet certain when the “boss”, John Steed, Purdey and Mike Gambit will be used in the future. Schwarzkopf: “We are checking whether they are suitable for other slots, such as late Friday evening. But even then we will watch each episode again beforehand.” . ZDF is now also following the example of ARD. The western series “Josh” planned for the afternoon (with US star Steve McQueen in the role of a bounty hunter) suddenly seemed too brutal to the program managers in Mainz. According to ZDF press chief Dr. Fritz Hufen, slipping into the late evening. Hufen described the afternoon transmission time as a “scheduling error” because the series had gotten into the “sensitivity zone” (where the children sit in front of the screen). JA.

Despite their reassurances, The New Avengers did not return to German television screens.

Continuity and trivia

The script is adapted from Phillip Broadley’s rejected script entitled “The Tale of the Deadly Cross”, written in the spring of 1976.


  • When Purdey sees Turner’s aeropane fly past and land while she’s searching for Brandon, it’s Irene’s yellow plane, not Turner’s red one.
  • When Gambit’s stopping Turner from taking by holding the ailerons up, there’s a close-up of Turner in the cockpit in which you can see a member of the crew running parallel to the plane in the middle distance.

The Transport

Marque Colour Number Plate
Purdey’s Honda XL 125cc trail bike 1976 red & grey OLR 471P
Citroën DS20 Safari 1972 white TMJ 105K
Vauxhall Viva 1975 navy JVS 751N
Skoda 110 1976 green ?
Audi 100 C1 1971 pale blue OCL 777J
Datsun 180B 1974 yellow UVL 500M
Renault 16 R 1968 claret RMY 417F
Ford D-Series removals van blue ?
De Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth (Morris) aeroplane 1942 red G-ANOH
Gambit’s Range Rover Series I 1976 white LOK 537P
Steed’s Range Rover Series I 1976 dark green TXC 922J
Hot dog van - Ford? orange and white ?
De Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth (Morris) aeroplane 1942 yellow G-APMX
Ford D-Series ‘custom cab’ open tray lorry brown, with W.H Holden & Son Prime Fertiliser and Manure written on door ?

Who’s Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Bert Brandon Poole shotgun wound which causes a car accident
Click a name to see the face

The Fashions

Gambit’s fashions
  1. grey prison uniform
  2. navy chalk stripe single-breasted suit, with navy tie, white shirt
  3. brown suede jacket with brown buttons, yellow shirt with white collar & placket, brown trousers and gold tie
  4. navy single-breasted suit, white shirt, navy tie
  5. as above : brown suede jacket with brown buttons, yellow shirt with white collar & placket, brown trousers and gold tie
Purdey’s fashions
  1. black jumpsuit with red and white sleeves, necline and “PURDEY” across the back, white helmet
  2. red coat with cloth belt, black knee-length skirt, red high heel sandals
  3. gold print evening dress, spaghetti straps, pleated hems, multilayered skirt, cream high heels
  4. green, purple, black and white dress
Steed’s fashions
  1. dark blue 3-piece single-breasted suit, pale blue shirt, purple tie with white spots
  2. grey tweed single-breasted 3-piece suit with brown felt collar, grey bowler, bronze tie, cream shirt, brown Chelsea boots
  3. grey suit single-breasted 3-piece, with blue tie with white spot, white shirt, grey bowler and umbrella
  4. tweed jacket, single vent, slanted, flap-covered pockets, green waistcoat, cream riding trousers, blue shirt, brown patterned tie, brown Chelsea boots
  5. grey suit single-breasted 3-piece, with light blue paisley tie, white shirt

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