• title card: white all caps text reading ‘SMALL GAME FOR BIG HUNTERS’ outlinked in black and superimposed on a milestone reading ‘LONDON 23 MILES’
  • Steed, in his dashing chalk-stripe suit, looks concerned about Emma who is yawning loudly - she wears a tight sleeveless top and stands before the plastic screen shielding the sleeping patients
  • Razafi captures Steed in a tiger trap which whisks him up in the air until his head collides with a tree branch
  • Steed ans Trent enter the jungle inside the enormous greenhouse, passing the formidable temperature and humidity controls
  • Razafi, his face painted with a tribal marking, lights a hurricane lantern in the foreground left
  • Emma, dressed as Lala in a sarong, is captured by one of the tribesmen and questioned by Professor Swain
  • The flies begin to ... die like flies... in the English rain
  • Emma paddles away in the front of a canoe while Steed just sits in the back talking

Series 4 — Episode 16
Small Game for Big Hunters

by Philip Levene
Directed by Gerry O’Hara

Production No E.64.10.17
Production completed: October 1 1965. First transmission: January 11 1966.


Production dates: 16/09 — 1/10/1965

Once again, Programme Controller Brian Tesler disliked another Philip Levene script. The first draft was sent to him on May 25 and returned on June 2 with the verdict that even though he found the finale enjoyable, it was too wordy without enough action for the first three quarters (presumably because he couldn’t use his usual science fiction complaint).

A second version was dispatched on June 29 but once again revisions were requested; it may have been shelved for a while as it was not until September 14 that the final script was sent, and accepted two days later without further comment, which was lucky as they were about to start filming.

Gerry O’Hara returned to direct his second episode, which would be his last for the show. In contrast to the previous episode, there was a lot of location filming done for the episode, with the house Starveacres in Radlett doing double duty as both Dr. Gibson’s house (the front and driveway) and Colonel Rawlings’ house (the back of the house and extensive formal garden). The teaser and tag scenes were filmed at the familiar haunt of Tykes Water Lake.

This episode saw a lot of the special John Bates monochrome outfits for Mrs. Peel and she truly looks magnificent in them. They would go on sale to the public after a splash of photo shoots of Diana Rigg wearing them hit the press 26-7 September 1965.

Regional broadcasts

Rediffusion London14/01/19668:00pm
ABC Midlands15/01/19669:05pm
ABC North15/01/19669:05pm
Anglia Television13/01/19668:00pm
Border Television16/01/19669:35pm
Channel Television15/01/19669:05pm
Grampian Television14/01/19668:00pm
Southern Television15/01/19669:05pm
Scottish Television11/01/19668:00pm
Tyne Tees Television14/01/19668:00pm
Ulster Television14/01/19668:00pm
Westward Television15/01/19669:05pm
Television Wales & West15/01/19669:05pm

TV Times listing

TV Times listing for January 14 1966, 8pm (London edition)
TV Weekly listing for January 15 1966, 9.05pm
Sydney Morning Herald listing for May 31 1966, 8pm
The Age listing for June 7 1966, 7.30pm

8.0 The Avengers
Patrick Macnee

as John Steed
Diana Rigg

as Emma Peel
Small Game for Big Hunters
By Philip Levene

In which Steed joins the natives — and Emma gets the evil eye …

Cast also includes

Col. Rawlings Bill Fraser
Simon Trent James Villiers
Professor Swain Liam Redmond
Dr. Gibson A. J. Brown
Fleming Peter Burton
Razafi Paul Danquah
Tropical outfitter Tom Gill
Lala Esther Anderson
Kendrick Peter Thomas

Music by Laurie Johnson
Directed by
Gerry O’Hara
Produced by Julian Wintle

ABC Television Network Production

International broadcasts

ABN2 Sydney, Australia31/05/19668:00pm
ABV2 Melbourne, Australia7/06/19667:30pm
ABC New York, USA4/04/196610:00pm
ORTF2 France25/04/19678:00pm
Suisse Romande, Switzerland8/10/19669:40pm
French titlePetit gibier pour gros chasseurs
ZDF Germany4/04/19679:15pm
German titleAfrikanischer Sommer
KRO Netherlands11/09/19679:35pm
Dutch titleDe slaapziekte
Italy26/11/80 C51
Italian titlePiccolo gioco per grandi cacciatori
Spanish titlePresa chica para grandes cazadores / Un juego simple para grandes cazadores

Italy did not show this episode in the 1960s, the Italian titles are from the Tele Torino International broadcast in the 1980s, and DVD releases.

Spain: ABC Madrid listing for July 3 1967, 4.05pm
France: L’Imparital listing for April 25 1967, 8pm
Netherlands: Dagblad de Stem listing for September 11 1967, 9.35pm
Switzerland: Journal de Genève listing for October 8 1966, 9.40pm
USA: New York Times listing for April 4 1966, 10pm
Germany: Hamburg Abendblatt listing for April 4 1967, 9.15pm

Episode Rating

Subject 0–5
3½ stars
Music 4 stars
3½ stars
3½ stars
3½ stars
Plot 4 stars
Emma 4 stars
Sets/Props 4 stars
7½ stars

A wildly improbable scheme, but it just might be possible. Jungle fights and silk sarongs enhance a rip-snorting episode (a lot of the snorting coming from Bill Fraser). Another episode that reminds me of The Goodies, so bonus points there.

The Fashions

Emma’s Fashions Steed’s Fashions
  1. white PVC raincoat worn with a black and white" “target” beret, black sleeveless (almost singlet) top, zipped up back, white hipster pants — two black bands at the hems with wide white belt, Edward Rayne’s black and white boots, black and white handbag, diagonal black and white driving gloves
  2. (1) without the coat, beret and gloves
  3. "Chemin" black and white fur coat over (2)
  4. white PVC coat of (1) over black singlet top and black vinyl hipster pants with white belt, black and white boots, black and white gloves
  5. (4) without the coat
  6. floral sarong (stripped from Lala — barely reaches from breast to thigh, single wrap, tied at waist), hibiscus flower in hair, gold medallion
  7. rollneck long sleeve blouse, turned back cuffs, white hipster pants and b/w boots
  1. dark three-piece suit with dark tie (flower motif), white shirt, initially with surgical mask
  2. (1) with black overcoat, bowler, umbrella and leather gloves
  3. navy chalk stripe three-piece suit (single vent, long skirt, flapped pockets) with black bowler and umbrella, pale silk shirt and dark silk tie with diamond pin, black chelsea boots
  4. (3) with regimental diagonally striped tie and marigold in buttonhole
  5. white cotton blazer and matching trousers (thin light belt) with tie, shirt and shoes from above, initially with a pith helmet, and briefly without the blazer
  6. black overcoat and yachting cap with white rollneck skivvy, black trousers

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
Bentley YT 3942
Lotus Elan S2 HNK 999C
Singer Vogue Estate CDU 922B
canoe -

Who’s Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Lt. Razafi Lala V* stabbed
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. 1:13 & 1:22 — The establishing shot of the woods pans past the same tree twice.
  2. 2:00 — The Goodies stole the idea of a man fleeing through the jungle, only to end up by a milestone outside London for their episode, “The Lost Tribe” — only they played it for laughs.
  3. 5:59 onwards — the Kalayan symbol used throughout the episode was used by W. Somerset Maugham on the cover and titlepage of his books. Originally a Moorish symbol called the hamsa which depicts Fatima’s hand warding off the evil eye. Used upside down, as in this episode, it is supposed to bring bad luck. Maugham had it printed on his book The Hero upside down by mistake, quickly corrected for the second printing.
  4. 16:04 — When Lieutenant Razafi ransacks Steed’s Bentley, he opens a War Department archive box containing the file on Colonel Rawlings, which strangely also contains one of the files from the Colonel Psev incident — Two’s A Crowd — spelled the same way and with the same serial number, 56079.
  5. 19:42 — Kalaya is in Africa, so why is there a tiger’s head on the clubhouse wall? Actually, where is Kalaya? The native population vary between African, American and Asian, the clubhouse has lions, tigers, warthogs, a zebra, and a leopard and an array of native implements and weapons — Zulu and Indian — I’m sure I saw a knobkerry, and the poison darts seem to be South American.
  6. 22:16 — As Steed and Simon Trent first enter the indoor Kalayan jungle, the foliage in the upper right foreground moves quite noticeably as the boom bumps into it while moving backwards.
  7. 22:23 — The old favourite prop, the cast-iron spiral staircase makes another appearance.
  8. 22:48 — Emma is reading “Tribal Customs of Kalaya” by E. D. W. Grantham, it looks to be a hand-painted prop.
  9. 23:14 — The sign outside the Colonel’s hut reads:
    Kalayan Settlers
    Ex-Servicemen’s Association
    Club House
    Members and Guests only
    Pres. Colonel P.R. Rawlings. Late 17th Fusiliers.
  10. 27:18 — Post-modernism: Colonel Rawlings dreams of returning to Mother England and buying a house in Hertfordshire, which is of course what he’s already done.
  11. 37:08 — the telephone at Gibson’s cottage is labelled Buckby 489.
  12. 40:34 — It seems a bit bright for midnight when Emma crosses the garden.
  13. 46:52 — That’s not Patrick Macnee swinging out of that tree, it’s his stunt double Rocky Taylor (best seen in Escape in Time). Rocky also does Steed’s fight with Trent at 47:26. Trent, I think, is being played by Terry Richards in the fight scene.
  14. 49:49 — the river backdrop behind then in the back projection epilogue is from too low a point of view, making it look like their canoe must be half under water.
  15. 50:10 — back on location at Tyke’s Water Lake.
  16. Running time: 51′09″

A note on the timecodes

Timecodes for episodes are problematic as each release has its own quirks so the 2009–11 Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal DVD sets have different run times compared to the A&E and Contender DVD sets from a decade beforehand. The newer Studio Canal & Via Vision blu rays seems to be back in line with the earlier releases, except they often have StudioCanal idents lasting 20 to 22 seconds added to the beginning.

The Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal DVD releases were remastered and their frame rate has been changed, resulting in a shorter running time. However, the picture quality has increased markedly. I assume this is because they used a simple 2:2 pulldown (24 @ 25) when converting from the original film masters (film runs at 24 frames per second, while PAL runs at 25fps, the new DVDs are in PAL format).
This pulldown was also the cause of audio errors on many episodes, especially for Series 5, as the audio sped up to match the new rate (4% faster), rather than being properly pitch-shifted. Checking the dialogue sheets, which list the feet and frames of the reels, it looks like the speed change is around 5.04%, so there may be some cuts as well - probably from around the commercial breaks and ends of reels, as they amount to about 25 seconds. All my assumptions are based on the episodes having been filmed on standard 35mm film, which has 16 frames per foot and runs at 24 frames per second, so a minute of footage uses 90 feet of film (1,440 frames).

The audio errors have been corrected in the currently available DVDs, but the 2:2 pulldown remains. There is also the addition of a Studio Canal lead-in, converted to black and white to match the episode for Series Four, but colour for Series Five, adding an extra 18 or 19 seconds to the running time and making it harder to match timecodes with previous releases. It’s annoying that it has been slapped on every single episode, Series 1–3 didn’t suffer this indignity.

The previous Contender and A&E DVD releases didn’t seem to suffer from these problems, so I assume they either used soft telecine and preserved the original 24fps rate of the film (my preferred option in DVDs) or they used 24 @ 25 pulldown (2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:3 Euro pull-down).

Thankfully, the new blu ray releases for series 4–6 appear to use native 24fps with soft telecine so the running times and pitch all seem to be correct again along with a much greatly improved picture quality, most notably in the Tara King episodes which are finally (mostly) back to their original glory.

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