The Protectors

The Protectors is a British television series, an action thriller created by Gerry Anderson. It was Anderson's second TV series to exclusively use live actors as opposed to marionettes (following UFO), and his second to be firmly set in contemporary times (following The Secret Service). It was also the only Gerry Anderson-produced television series that was not of the fantasy or science fiction genres. It was produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment production company. Despite not featuring marionettes or any real science fiction elements, The Protectors became one of Anderson's most popular productions, easily winning a renewal for a second series. A third series was in the planning stages when the show's major sponsor, Brut, ended its funding and thus forced the series' cancellation.

The Protectors
Created byGerry Anderson
StarringRobert Vaughn
Nyree Dawn Porter
Tony Anholt
Anthony Chinn
Yasuko Nagazumi
Theme music composerMitch Murray
Peter Callender
Opening theme"Avenues and Alleyways" Instrumental
Ending theme"Avenues and Alleyways" sung by Tony Christie
Composer(s)John Cameron
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series2
No. of episodes52 (list of episodes)
Producer(s)Gerry Anderson
Reg Hill
CinematographyBrendan J. Stafford
Frank Watts
Editor(s)Mike Campbell
David Lane
Bert Rule
John S. Smith
Camera setupSingle
Running time25 mins approx. per episode
(excluding advertisements)
Production company(s)Group Three Productions
DistributorITC Entertainment
Original networkATV
Picture formatFilm (16 and 35 mm) 4:3 Colour
Audio formatMono
Original release29 September 1972 (1972-09-29) 
15 March 1974 (1974-03-15)

The Protectors was first broadcast 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 (of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fame) as Harry Rule, Nyree Dawn Porter (co-star of The Forsyte Saga) as the Contessa Caroline di Contini, and Tony Anholt (later to star in Space: 1999 and Howards' Way) as Paul Buchet. Episodes often featured prominent guest actors.


Three inexplicably affluent international private detectives/troubleshooters are charged with ensuring the protection of innocents. They belong to an organisation called The Protectors, based in London. Harry Rule leads the group. The Contessa lives in Italy (when she is not working with Harry). She runs her own detective agency, which specializes in exposing art frauds and recovering stolen art. Paul Buchet works out of Paris, and is the group's researcher and gadget specialist. Adventures range from simple kidnapping to convoluted cases of international intrigue. These characters are all very wealthy and drive exotic cars of the era, such as the Citroën SM and Jensen Interceptor.


According to co-producer Gerry Anderson, the show's format was outlined in a brief note that Lew 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 format of the series allowed for occasional episodes in which not all of the main actors appeared, including two in which Vaughn's character was absent.

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, Malta and Paris, giving the series a sixties "jet set" feel (it was also the first Anderson production to have such a luxury). In order to offset the cost of location filming, and also perhaps because the equipment was more portable, the series was shot on 16mm film rather than the usual 35mm.

The episodes aimed at fast-paced action set against an international background, incorporating elements from both private-eye detective shows and espionage shows, but within a half-hour format. The lack of screen time, compared with the 50-minute timeslot used by shows like The Persuaders! or Department S, resulted in plots that were rather simplistic, with motivation and characterisation sacrificed for action, owing to the writers having to cram as much as possible into a 25-minute timeslot and still produce gripping television. Accordingly, the series suffered from most of the same drawbacks that beset The Adventurer, another half-hour ITC show that aired at the same time.

The theme tune of the series, "Avenues and Alleyways", was a minor hit for Tony Christie (and was successfully revived by Christie in the 2000s, thanks in part to its use in the soundtrack to the film Love, Honour and Obey). This was the first Anderson series not to feature music composed by Barry Gray.

Courtfield Mews, London SW5 was used as the filming location for The Protectors headquarters.[1]

In Germany the series was known as Kein Pardon für Schutzengel (meaning "No Mercy for Guardian Angels") and in France as Poigne de fer et séduction ("Iron Fist and Seduction"). This highlights another snag which bedevilled the show: its English title, The Protectors, could imply that Robert Vaughn was playing a bodyguard, in a more serious version of the 1980s ITV show Minder, but very few of the episodes cast Vaughn's team in the role of bodyguards: hence the title made little sense, and was actually misleading for casual viewers. (A similar issue relates to the title of the TV series, The Avengers; beyond a story arc at the very beginning of the series in 1961, the lead characters were primarily investigators and rarely actually "avenged" anyone.)

As was the case for most of Anderson's series, in the United States the series was not broadcast on network television, but aired instead in first-run syndication. This made it more difficult for the show to make any impact in America, despite its popular American star, and this hurt its overseas sales.

Actor relationships

According to Robert Vaughn's autobiography, there were many problems between the actor and both the show's financier, Lew Grade, and its co-producer, Gerry Anderson. Anderson claimed in his own autobiography that Vaughn acted like a Hollywood prima donna and refused to get along with the other actors; but John Hough (who directed several episodes, and the opening title sequence of the series) had many more problems with Vaughn's business partner, Sherwood Price, than with Vaughn himself.[2] Vaughn claimed that he felt the series was "tasteless junk", and that he could not understand the scripts either before or during shooting.

Vaughn was given the opportunity to direct one episode himself—number 23 in production order, "It Could Be Practically Anywhere on the Island". On this production he met actress Linda Staab; they married three years later, and remained married until his death 42 years later in 2016. Although Vaughn had a better relationship with Grade, the mogul called "It Could Be Practically..." the worst episode he had ever seen of anything; Vaughn himself was less than fond of it.

Anderson's relationship with series regular Tony Anholt was a more positive one, and a few years later he cast the actor as Tony Verdeschi in the second series of Space: 1999.


Series 1 (1972–73)

No. Title Directed by[3] Written by[3] Original air date Production
1"2000 ft to Die"John HoughTerence Feely29 September 1972 (1972-09-29)1
Scientist Freddie Reiwald contacts the Protectors when his colleagues at the Cranston Research Centre die in suspicious circumstances. In Italy, Harry and Caroline discover that an unknown party has completed Reiwald's research into the production of synthetic gold—and now Reiwald's daughter's life is in danger.
2"Brother Hood"Don ChaffeyJohn Goldsmith6 October 1972 (1972-10-06)2
The Protectors are hired to break a billionare's brother out of prison, similar to the Kaplan prison escape in Mexico in 1971. Guest-starring Patrick Troughton and Vladek Sheybal.
3"See No Evil"Jeremy SummersDonald Johnson13 October 1972 (1972-10-13)10
The Protectors, attempting to guard an Italian senator in Rome, find a blackmailer who has got out of control. Guest-starring James Bolam.
4"Disappearing Trick"Jeremy SummersBrian Clemens20 October 1972 (1972-10-20)3
The Contessa risks her life when a deceptive new client uses her to escape the police. Guest-starring Derren Nesbitt.
5"Ceremony for the Dead"Jeremy SummersDonald James27 October 1972 (1972-10-27)26
The Protectors are hired to stop the kidnapping of a president.
6"It Was All Over in Leipzig"Don ChaffeyDonald James3 November 1972 (1972-11-03)25
Whilst investigating a plot to overthrow the government of a Mediterranean nation, the Protectors end up confronting two old friends of the Contessa, one of whom she was once romantically involved with. Guest-starring Ron Randell.
7"The Quick Brown Fox"Don ChaffeyDonald James10 November 1972 (1972-11-10)5
The Protectors are hired to help find a missing band of Nazis. Guest-starring Morris Perry.
8"King Con"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick17 November 1972 (1972-11-17)12
The Protectors find themselves in the middle of a war over some antiques. Guest-starring Anton Rodgers.
9"Thinkback"Cyril FrankelBrian Clemens24 November 1972 (1972-11-24)14
Harry is the victim of a car crash. But was it an accident?
10"A Kind of Wild Justice"Jeremy SummersDonald James1 December 1972 (1972-12-01)8
The daughter of a gangster returns after his death to kill Harry. Or does she?
11"Balance of Terror"Don ChaffeyJohn Goldsmith8 December 1972 (1972-12-08)11
A scientist disappears with a deadly biological weapon. The first the Protectors know of this is when the KGB breaks into Harry's flat to tell them. Guest-starring Nigel Green and Laurence Naismith.
12"Triple Cross"John HoughLew Davidson15 December 1972 (1972-12-15)7
A charming charlatan cons Caroline's friend. Guest-starring John Neville and Peter Bowles.
13"The Numbers Game"Don ChaffeyRalph Smart29 December 1972 (1972-12-29)6
The Protectors investigate a runaway and discover she is involved with an international drug smuggling operation.
14"For the Rest of Your Natural…"John HoughTony Barwick5 January 1973 (1973-01-05)18
Caroline is abducted by an old enemy who sends her for a bizarre trial.
15"The Bodyguards"Don ChaffeyDennis Spooner12 January 1973 (1973-01-12)19
The Protectors are assigned to guard the body of a deceased robber and follow his old associates to find stolen money.
16"A Matter of Life and Death"Don ChaffeyDonald James19 January 1973 (1973-01-19)22
Harry and the Contessa uncover an international smuggling operation run by Mallory. They find themselves in danger when he discovers who they are.
17"The Big Hit"Roy Ward BakerDonald James26 January 1973 (1973-01-26)13
Members of the Protectors are being killed by someone who has targeted the organisation. Harry is abducted, and threatened with death if he does not reveal information.
18"One and One Makes One"Don ChaffeyJesse & Pat Lasky2 February 1973 (1973-02-02)9
A spy goes missing with crucial information. The Protectors are tasked with finding him—but is he still alive? Guest-starring Michael Gough and Georgia Brown.
19"Talkdown"Jeremy SummersJesse & Pat Lasky9 February 1973 (1973-02-09)20
Harry is abducted by a man who blames him for his brother's death. He parachutes out of a plane, leaving Harry stranded unless he can be talked down.
20"Vocal"Cyril FrankelBrian Clemens16 February 1973 (1973-02-16)24
After Paul is temporarily blinded, gangsters hire a man to impersonate Harry and get information about the Protectors from him.
21"…With a Little Help from My Friends"Jeremy SummersSylvia Anderson23 February 1973 (1973-02-23)17
Harry is blackmailed into carrying out the assassination of a Middle Eastern leader he has been hired to protect.
22"Chase"Harry BoothBrian Clemens2 March 1973 (1973-03-02)16
Harry must protect a South American diplomat from rivals who are trying to kill him.
23"Your Witness"Jeremy SummersDonald James9 March 1973 (1973-03-09)4
A club owner hires the Protectors to guard his niece, who is a witness in a murder trial.
24"It Could Be Practically Anywhere on the Island"Robert VaughnTony Barwick16 March 1973 (1973-03-16)23
In Malta, Harry gets involved with an Arkansas millionairess, her pet dog, and a piece of microfilm. (Other than the Police Woman episode "The Melting Point Of Ice", this is Robert Vaughn's only directorial credit; it is also the only episode of any Gerry Anderson series directed by a member of the cast.)
25"The First Circle"Don ChaffeyTony Barwick23 March 1973 (1973-03-23)15
Vietnam War veteran John Hunter (Ed Bishop), deranged by his experiences, goes berserk. The man's wife asks the Protectors to help before the authorities kill him.
26"A Case for the Right"Michael Lindsay-HoggJesse & Pat Lasky30 March 1973 (1973-03-30)21
Harry and the Contessa are hired to deliver a package. When they discover they have been used as decoys, they investigate further and end up trying to stop a coup plot.

Series 2 (1973–74)

No. Title Directed by[3] Writer[3] Original air date Production
1"Quin"Don LeaverTrevor Preston21 September 1973 (1973-09-21)4
The Protectors are hired by the sister of a man who disappeared after being hired as a mercenary. They discover he was murdered on the orders of Quin, the leader of the organisation that hired him.
2"Bagman"John HoughTerry Nation28 September 1973 (1973-09-28)1
A wealthy widow's daughter is kidnapped and Harry is required to drop off the ransom money.
3"Fighting Fund"Jeremy SummersJohn Kruse5 October 1973 (1973-10-05)3
The Protectors must thwart a terrorist gang who plan to use a stolen art collection to buy arms for their cause.
4"The Last Frontier"Charles CrichtonJean Morris12 October 1973 (1973-10-12)8
The Protectors are hired by a British politician to smuggle his sweetheart, a Russian nuclear scientist, into Britain so that they can marry.
5"Baubles, Bangles and Beads"Jeremy SummersTerry Nation19 October 1973 (1973-10-19)9
When a jewelry collection is stolen and a ransom demanded from the insurance company, they hire Harry and the Contessa to act as intermediaries with the robbers.
6"Petard"Cyril FrankelTony Barwick26 October 1973 (1973-10-26)10
The head of a chemical company hires the Protectors to discover who stole company secrets and sold them to a rival.
7"Goodbye George"Michael Lindsay-HoggBrian Clemens2 November 1973 (1973-11-02)6
Caroline is hired by an American millionaire who thinks his son, an artist living in Venice, has fallen victim to a con-man. (This and "The Tiger And The Goat" are the only episodes in which Robert Vaughn does not appear.)
8"WAM (Part One)"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick9 November 1973 (1973-11-09)13
The daughter of a wealthy man is involved in a hostage situation at a ski resort, with skiers held for ransom.
9"WAM (Part Two)"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick16 November 1973 (1973-11-16)14
The ransom is paid and the hostages released, but the Protectors and the police must work out how the woman was involved.
10"Implicado"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick23 November 1973 (1973-11-23)7
A woman hires the Protectors when her son, who has become involved with a drug dealer in Spain, is framed and arrested by police.
11"Dragon Chase"Charles CrichtonJohn Kruse30 November 1973 (1973-11-30)15
The Protectors must prevent a group of communist sympathisers from obtaining the manuscript of a book written by a Soviet defector.
12"Decoy"Michael Lindsay-HoggBrian Clemens7 December 1973 (1973-12-07)17
The Protectors investigate an insurance fraud involving an old friend of Harry's who, having previously staged his own death, is killed for real.
13"Border Line"Charles CrichtonAnthony Terpiloff14 December 1973 (1973-12-14)12
An actress who is the daughter of a Hungarian exile hires the Protectors to help arrange a secret funeral for her father so that he can be buried on home soil.
14"Zeke's Blues"Jeremy SummersShane Rimmer21 December 1973 (1973-12-21)16
A jazz musician has become involved with gangsters and has to set up Harry to pay off a debt.
15"Lena"Don LeaverTrevor Preston28 December 1973 (1973-12-28)5
The Protectors must protect a journalist investigating a politician who is linked to a murder.
16"The Bridge"Jeremy SummersTony Barwick4 January 1974 (1974-01-04)2
The Protectors must foil a radical group's plot to assassinate a politician by blowing up a bridge as his car crosses it.
17"Sugar and Spice"Charles CrichtonDavid Butler11 January 1974 (1974-01-11)20
A millionaire's young daughter is targeted by rivals who want to block a company take-over. He hires the Protectors to shelter her, which they must do so without raising her suspicions.
18"Burning Bush"Don LeaverTrevor Preston18 January 1974 (1974-01-18)11
A wealthy man is concerned to discover his teenage daughter is involved with an obscure religious sect. Harry goes undercover to find out what goes on inside the community. (Note: Nyree Dawn Porter does not appear in this episode).
19"The Tiger and the Goat"Jeremy SummersTrevor Preston25 January 1974 (1974-01-25)23
British Intelligence use the Contessa as bait to capture an assassin who has targeted their agents, however there is a twist when the supposed assassin reveals himself.
20"Route 27"Don LeaverTerry Nation1 February 1974 (1974-02-01)26
Harry investigates a drug-smuggling operation based in Denmark and becomes a target when the gang discover his involvement.
21"Trial"Charles CrichtonRobert Banks Stewart8 February 1974 (1974-02-08)25
The Protectors must prevent the murder of a judge who has been targeted by the father of the accused in a murder trial.
22"Shadbolt"John HoughTony Barwick15 February 1974 (1974-02-15)19
Harry comes face to face with Shadbolt, a professional assassin who has been hired to kill him.
23"A Pocketful of Posies"Cyril FrankelTerry Nation22 February 1974 (1974-02-22)18
Famous singer Carrie Blaine fears she's losing her mind when peculiar things start happening around her, the Protectors must investigate.
24"Wheels"David TomblinTony Barwick1 March 1974 (1974-03-01)22
The Protectors must retrieve information about Swiss bank accounts stolen by a notorious thief.
25"The Insider"Don LeaverTrevor Preston8 March 1974 (1974-03-08)24
A film director hires the Protectors to investigate when copies of his latest film are stolen and a ransom is demanded.
26"Blockbuster"Jeremy SummersShane Rimmer15 March 1974 (1974-03-15)21
The Protectors are hired to investigate an international series of platinum robberies carried out by a gang.

Home media

ITV Studios Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Region 2 in 2002/2003.

Network Distributing released a seven-disc Region 2 DVD set in 2010, comprising both series.

In Region 1, A&E Home Entertainment, under licence from Carlton International Media Limited, released the entire 52 episodes on Region 1 DVD for the first time ever, in two complete season sets, in 2003/2004.[4][5]

On 10 September 2014, it was announced that VEI Entertainment had acquired the rights to the series in Region 1, and would re-release all 52 episodes on DVD on 4 November 2014.


In 2009, Network released a five-disc set of music recorded for the series, featuring Tony Christie's "Avenues and Alleyways", library music and scores for 13 episodes composed by John Cameron, and Eartha Kitt's rendition of "My Man's Gone Now" for the episode "A Pocketful of Posies".


  1. Mews News. Lurot Brand. Published Spring 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  2. Sellers, Robert (2006). Cult TV: The Golden Age Of ITC. Plexus. ISBN 0859653889.
  3. Bentley, Chris (2008) [2001]. The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide (4 ed.). Richmond, London: Reynolds and Hearn. ISBN 978-1-905287-74-1.
  4. The Protectors – Season One
  5. The Protectors – Season Two

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