Region 0 (UK) Edition - Reviewed by Ceri Laing

Directors:  Charles Crichton, Peter Medak, Peter Duffell

Starring:  Anthony Quayle, Kaz Garas, Anneke Wills, Charles Lloyd Pack


Adam Strange is a criminologist who deals with unusual and offbeat cases that are have Scotland Yard baffled. He is assisted by two young friends, Hamilton ‘Ham’ Gynt, an American scholar based at the British Museum, and Evelyn McLean, an artist and model. Together they explore the underbelly of swinging late-Sixties London.

At first glance Strange Report seems like just another series in a long line of productions for Lew Grade’s television programme factory ITC. Like many of ITC’s shows it featured a trio of lead characters – two men and a girl. The same formula can be applied to The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and the show it most closely resembles, Department S. The show was a joint production with American company, Arena (who also produced The Man from UNCLE). Filming began for the series in July 1968 and ran through to March of the following year. Each episode was shot on a two-week schedule.

Well-known film and theatre actor Anthony Quayle (Ice Cold in Alex, The Guns of Navarone, The Tamarind Seed, The Eagle Has Landed) headed the cast as Adam Strange, a criminologist who drives around London in an unlicensed taxi cab.

The producers from Arena wanted an American in the cast to encourage interest in the home market, so Kaz Garas, was brought in as the multi-talented Ham Gynt. Garas was a Lithuanian who had immigrated to America while still a child. He later appeared in the unsold 1974 pilot for Wonder Woman, alongside Cathy Lee Crosby.

The final member of the trio came in the form of the delectable Anneke Wills, fresh from her role as Doctor Who assistant Polly, to William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton’s Doctors. Her other notable genre credits include two appearances in The Avengers, along with episodes of The Saint and The Likely Lads.

As well as the three main characters, there was also an additional regular, Professor Marks, who was a pathologist friend of Gynt, who would help out on their cases. He was played by genre stalwart Charles Lloyd Pack, an instantly-recognisable face from his many appearances. On TV these include The Avengers and many other ITC series. His film appearances include Quatermass 2, Hammer’s 1958 adaptation of Dracula, The Revenge of Frankenstein, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, The Reptile and Bedazzled.

The series ran for sixteen episodes, broadcast in the UK by the ITV regions from towards the end of 1969, and from the beginning of 1971 in the US. The show was a lot straighter than some of ITC’s output of the period - there was humour in the series - but its tongue was decidedly not in cheek. Strange’s team used a great deal of forensic science and psychology to solve the cases, making Strange Report more akin to a standard police series. Each episode was identified by a report number and subtitle to describe the subject matter of the case, together with a more standard episode title - for example, REPORT 4407: HEART ‘No Choice for the Donor’. The subjects tackled are concisely summed up by the episode titles, from Kidnap, Revenge, Cult, and Sniper, to Lonelyhearts, Cover Girls, Swindle and Epidemic, which gives you a fair idea of the range of cases Strange and his two friends encountered.

The American production team wanted many of the scripts to be contributed by American writers, such as Edward DeBlasio (who also worked on Bonanza and Angie Dickson’s Police Woman) and Don Brinkley (who also wrote for The Man from Uncle, The Invaders and the M*A*S*H spin-off¸Trapper John M.D.) . Other notable writers involved in the series include Tudor Gates (who also wrote for The Sweeney, as well as scripting Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers, Lust for a Vampire and Twins of Evil), Roger Parkes (one-time script editor for Out of the Unknown, as well as writing for Man in a Suitcase, The Prisoner, Doomwatch, Survivors and Blake’s 7) and Bill Strutton (perhaps best known for his unusual Doctor Who story The Web Planet, but he also wrote for The Avengers, The Saint, Undermind and Paul Temple).

The series was directed by a core team comprised of Charles Crichton, Peter Medak and Peter Duffell. Crichton was a veteran, who had worked on Ealing comedies, including The Lavender Hill Mob and The Titfield Thunderbolt. His television work included episodes of The Avengers, Danger Man and Man in a Suitcase. After the series he contributed to Space: 1999 and became famous again for A Fish Called Wanda. Hungarian director Peter Medak went on to direct episodes of The Persuaders!, Space: 1999, Hart to Hart, the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, and made two very successful British crime films, The Krays and Let Him Have It. Other credits include Species II and episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street. Peter Duffell is perhaps best known for directing the Amicus horror anthology film The House that Dipped Blood, as well as contributing to TV series such as Flambards, Tales of the Unexpected, Inspector Morse and the BBC’s Play for Tomorrow strand. He also directed Stephen Poliakoff’s superb BBC play Caught on a Train and Channel 4’s The Far Pavilions.

As ever with a series of this vintage there is a great deal of talent on show in the guest roles and Strange Report is no exception. There are far too many of them to list, so here are some of the highlights: Robert Hardy, Eric Portman, Ray McAnnally, Ian Ogilvy, Richard O’Sullivan, Sally Geeson, Martin Shaw, Kika Markham, Peter Vaughn, Zienia Merton, Derren Nesbitt, Julian Glover, John Thaw, Ron Pember, John Laurie, David Collings, Keith Barron, Bernard Lee, Peter Jefferey, Sylvia Syms, John Bennett and Gerald Sim. And, before you ask, yes, Michael Sheard does also make an appearance!

At the end of the initial production block it was decided to make the next series in the States, but Anthony Quayle felt he’d done everything he could with the role, and declined the offer to make more episodes. So, after sixteen episodes, the series ended.

Anthony Quayle as Adam Strange

Kas Garas as Hamlyn Gynt.

Anneke Wills as Evelyn McLean.


Network’s box set contains five discs: four containing four episodes each, and a fifth disc of special features. These are packaged as a double-width Amray case, containing the four series discs, and a single Amray case containing the special features.

The series was originally shot on 35mm film, and the episodes have been extensively restored by the team BBC Resources. New telecine transfers were made from the original film elements, which were graded by BBC Resources colourist Jonathan Wood. Flaws in the prints were cleaned up manually, and some digital fixes were applied to remove things like shimmer and gate hairs. Some of the processes involved are demonstrated in a restoration featurette on the special features discs.

The episodes have certainly never looked or sounded as good as they do now. The colour grading is done perfectly and they look and sound clean and bright, with no trace of the faults seen in the early 90s ITC VHS releases and the aborted 1996 Bravo repeat run.

The episodes are presented in their original 4:3 format, but don’t include the original commercial break bumpers. Most of ITC’s filmed series from the 1960s and 1970s were created with international sales in mind, and so were created in such a way that overseas stations could insert their own bumpers. Examples of the UK bumpers are included on the special features disc. The episodes are presented in order of production as there is no real broadcast order (the ITV regions varied in their transmission orders).

Each of the four dual-layer discs feature four approximately 50 minute episodes, which are encoded at an average of about 4.83Mb/s. In playback mode this is enough to make them look very acceptable, but closer examination reveals that individual frames are rather fuzzy. The sound is presented in the original 1.0 mono at 192kbps.

The main menu on each disc features the opening title card and music cue, which appears at the beginning of each episode, with options to play all or select an episode. Each episode has sub-menus underscored, with different music cues on each disc, and moving sequences from each episode, and options to play or select a scene. The scene sub-menus are silent, featuring an appropriate image from the episode and the list of chapters.

All the restored material – the episodes and items on the special features disc – include a generic, newly-created countdown clock created by BBC Resources. These have been left on the beginning of the material by Network, with the first chapter point placed at the start of the material, so the time clocks are only accessible by rewinding the disc back from the this point if you wish to see them.

Julian Glover as jailbird James Hanson in "Report 2475: Revenge"

Zienia Merton as Zeba in "Report 3424: Epidemic"

Martin Shaw as student leader Savi in "Report 7931: Sniper".


Network has been preparing this release for a while now, and not only does their hard work show in the presentation of the episodes, it’s also seen in the raft of special features included in the set. To begin with, there are three mini-interviews with Robert Hardy, Martin Shaw and Zienia Merton, which serve as introductions to the episodes they guest in. They talk about their experiences of working on the show, with Robert Hardy reminiscing fondly about his friend Anthony Quayle, who died in 1989. The three introductions are presented at the beginning of the appropriate episode. Network has included introductions like these on some of their previous releases, such as their The Sweeney box sets, and I hope they will continue to appear on future releases. They give an interesting insight and perform perfectly what they set out to do, not outstaying their welcome.

The rest of special features are contained on disc five, which is titled REPORT 0604: DISCLOSURE ‘The Final Analysis’. The disc offers a choice of playing all the bonus material, or a traditional menu-driven presentation.

First up, is a wonderful twenty-two minute interview with Anneke Wills. This features Wills wandering around some of the locations used in the series, being interviewed by actor Roger Lloyd Pack (best known as Trigger from Only Fools and Horses and son of Strange Report regular, Charles Lloyd Pack). Anneke Wills and Roger Lloyd Pack are old friends, which means the interview has an easygoing nature and allows the questioning to be less formal, whilst at the same time still giving structure to their reminiscences. They talk casually about the show, with Lloyd Pack also highlighting his memories of his father’s connection with the programme. The overall presentation – the filming, editing, use of music and captions in the style of the original programme – makes this one of the most successful interview features I’ve seen on a Network DVD, and it just flies by.

This is followed by a shorter, ten-minute, interview with Kaz Garas, filmed around his now home of Portland, Oregon. This has a more standard presentation, with him being interviewed by someone off-camera. He talks about his experiences of the show, as well as what it was like to be the American star. Although it’s shorter than the Wills interview it still works well. Due to Garas being based in Oregon it wasn’t possible for him and Wills to meet up, which is a shame, as it would’ve been a nice additional aspect to the interview pieces.

Next is a roll of original trailers, which have also been restored by BBC Resources. The roll runs for just under 14mins, and it includes generic trailers (which are obviously fairly repetitive in content) and individual trailers for seven of the episodes.

Then there is some textless background material for use in creating appropriate title and credit captions for the episodes overseas. This is also restored and runs to around 29mins.

The next item is more textless footage coupled with a rushes compilation, which hasn’t been cleaned, and runs to seven minutes. This is mute material of shots (some extended and some raw) which were used for the titles and other backgrounds for captions in the series, but here presented in their original state without text or freeze-frame effects.

Following that are the US edits for the REPORT 0649: SKELETON ‘Let Sleeping Heroes Lie’ episode. This material features two amendments to the episode: a prologue that establishes the opening scene as taking place during the blitz, and a shorter, less violent version of someone being killed). These run for just under a minute.

Then there are the commercial break bumpers, which are again restored. These are the UK and US versions, featuring into-commercials and out-of-commercials bumpers,. This sequence has a runtime of under forty seconds.

Before and after demonstration from the Restoration Featurette.Next is the three-minute Restoration Featurette, which graphically shows how much work has gone into the presentation of the material. It features some great before and after shots, as well as highlighting individual faults. Network’s pricing structure is often criticised, and this featurette shows why their discs are generally more expensive than their competitors: it’s important that the company demonstrates that a great deal of time, effort and money is being spent to improve the picture and sound quality.

A Photographic Material section contains an enormous range of images, starting with The ITC Stills Collection – an extensive gallery of images from the ITC archives, compiled together as a continuous video sequence lasting just under nineteen minutes.

Another section shows the sleeves from the paperback novel and the 8mm film releases of certain episodes, which were put out in the early 70s for home use, together with signed publicity stills of the three leads. This sequence runs for less than thirty seconds.

Finally, for this section, is a collection of personal on-set black and white photographs taken by Kaz Garas, who was an experienced photographer, documenting a variety of people involved in the production of the series. It’s a collection featuring a wealth of insightful images, and a wonderful record of his time on the show. These have also been compiled together as a video sequence, running to just under seven minutes.

All of these sequences are underscored with a collection of music cues from Roger Webb’s superb scores for Strange Report, taken from the recently-found studio tapes. Many of the cues feature engineer-spoken markers, and snatches of studio chat at the beginning or end of them. Fantastic!

The final section of the disc is a selection of PDF documents only accessible via a DVD-ROM drive. These are two scripts the first – REPORT 4407: HEART ‘No Chance for a Donor’ – and the third – REPORT 0649: SKELETON ‘Let Sleeping Heroes Lie’. Both feature their original titles (King of Hearts and Death of a Hero), as well as scribbled notes and corrections. The other items are the two original UK and US promotional brochures. All four items were kept by Gaz Karas – the two scripts were his own! It’s amazing that he kept them and it’s fantastic of Network to present them on in the box set. It’s a brilliant way to end a brilliant set of special features.

The menus on the special features disc replicate those of the other discs, with the opening title card and music cue for the main menu, which has options to play all or select individual special features. The special features sub-menu uses a great behind the scenes still of the three leads. A superb funky lounge-esque music cue that includes echoes of the main theme underscores the menu - as a result you don’t object to returning to the menu one bit!

Finally, the set also includes a special ITC Episode Guide booklet, which reprints the episode synopses information from the original ITC Story Information - Strange Report booklet. This information is enhanced with the original UK screening dates (as ITC was part of the ATV company, the broadcast dates from the ATV region have been used), the original US screening dates (from the broadcasts by NBC), shooting dates and any working titles where known. The swanky booklet is illustrated with lots of gorgeous stills and the sleeve images from the ITC Publicity Brochure (which can be seen in full as one of the PDF documents on the special features disc) and the ITC Story Information - Strange Report booklet. The only criticism is that the booklet is a fingerprint magnet – a glossy cover next time please, chaps!


Charles Lloyd Pack as Professor Marks.

Robert Hardy as surgeon Michael Sanders in "Report 4407: Heart"

John Thaw as  Detective Inspector Jenner in "Report 2475: Revenge".


Network has really put a lot of hard work into this release, and it shows. The sixteen episodes of Strange Report are superbly restored – the episodes positively glow with a rich quality – and, thankfully, the encoding problems which plagued Network’s release of The Sweeney – Series 2 are not present on these discs. On top of that you get all you really could ask for in the special features. The time and trouble taken by Network in the two interviews with Anneke Wills (through the presentation and use of Roger Lloyd Pack as interviewer) and Kaz Garas (through going to interview him at his home in the US), especially enhance the release.

Without the contact with Karas there wouldn’t have been all the superb additional material made available as PDF documents, or his wonderful photographs. Then there is the wealth of excellent material from the ITC vaults. Apart from seeing a joint interview with Wills and Karas, which geographically wasn’t possible, the only thing that might have enhanced the box set further would’ve been a couple of episode commentaries, maybe featuring Wills  (as she’d be more easily available Garas) and guest stars guided by a moderator. However, a lot of the information that might have been revealed in a commentary is imparted through the interviews and episode introductions. It feels very churlish to criticise this box set. Everything included in the box set, right down to the use of the newly-discovered studio tapes of the music cues, used to underscore menus and image sequences, goes towards making this the definitive release for the series.

But what of the series itself? The DVD presentation and special features aside, is it worth it? Being a co-production with an American company, the series has a different feel to other ITC series of the time. The use of Strange’s criminologist experience – in employing forensic science and psychology – gives the show a more intelligent feel than other ITC series. The use of American writers for a London based series does, however, mean that some of the writing isn’t as good as it could be (Anneke Wills points out in her interview that the first episode they worked on was “a stinker”). The series also exhibits some rampant sexism, which certainly isn’t unusual in a show from this period, but it’s quite shameless here. However, much of the direction, and, especially, the three leads help to surmount these problems. The leads make their characters very engaging, and the three of them really work well together. The vast array of British acting talent on offer enhances the series no end, as they must have done when it was first broadcast, but now you also get the additional attraction of seeing respected actors such as Robert Hardy, Martin Shaw and John Thaw early in their careers. ITC shows are renowned for their theme music, and Strange Report’s is no exception – it’s a gem – as is all the music composed by Roger Webb for the series. By the end of the run of sixteen episodes you feel a tad disappointed that Anthony Quayle decided not to do a second production block in the States. You’re left wanting to see more cases investigated by the three characters, and moving them to a new locale would have been very interesting.

If you compare Network’s release of Strange Report to the box sets released by Carlton of other ITC series – they don’t even come close to this. It is, however, a comparable release to Australian label Umbrella’s archive TV box sets, which are of brilliant quality. The care and attention taken by Network in this release is simply amazing and it’s worth every penny of its RRP.












Unless explicitly stated, DVD screen captures used in the reviews are for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended to be accurate representations of the DVD image.   While screen captures are generally in their correct aspect ratio, there will often have been changes made to the resolution, contrast, hue and sharpness, to optimise them for web display.

Site content copyright © J.A.Knott - 2002-2004