Alexandra Bastedo, best known for her role in the 1960s television sci-fi series “The Champions”, has died aged 67.
Those of a certain vintage, including the Record Press author, will remember Alexandra Bastedo as the glamorous female lynchpin in a spy trio, known as “The Champions”. It was a British espionage / detective adventure series broadcast on ITV during 1968–1969.
The series featured Alexandra Bastedo as Sharron Macready, supported by Craig Stirling ( played by Stuart Damon ) and Richard Barrett ( William Gaunt ) as agents for a United Nations law enforcement organization called “Nemesis”, based in Geneva. The trio had diverse backgrounds with Richard Barrett as a code breaker, Craig Stirling a fighter pilot, and Sharron Macready a recently widowed scientist and doctor. I remember my cousin gave me her autographed photos of the three of them, but sadly they met an undignified demise as a makeshift darts board!!
During their first mission, the plane carrying “The Champions” crashes in the Himalayas and they are rescued by an advanced tribe hidden away in the snowy mountains of Tibet, who save their lives and bestow upon them very sophisticated human faculties, including powers to communicate with one another over great distances by ESP (telepathy).
“The Champions” was one of a clutch of TV adventure series shown on ITV in the late 1960s and early 1970s that fired the imagination of the Record Press author in my formative years. My first love was the surreal “The Avengers”, starring the suave, urbane John Steed ( Patrick MacNee ) with his immaculate three piece suits, bowler hat and umbrella. He was ably supported by elegant and athletic sidekick Emma Peel ( Diana Rigg ) with her catsuits and martial arts kicks. At the same time there was the dashing and debonair Roger Moore as Simon Templar in “The Saint” and the equally dapper Jason King ( played by Peter Wyngarde ), resplendent in his cravats and smoking jackets in “Department S”.
Another of my favourite TV adventure series of that era was “The Persuaders”, which like “The Champions” only ran for one series in 1971-1972. “The Persuaders” starred Roger Moore ( sandwiched between his roles as Simon Templar and James Bond ) as aristocrat Lord Brett Sinclair and Tony Curtis as gauche New Yorker Danny Wilde. TV mogul Lew Grade took a huge risk putting the quintessential English man with the Hollywood star, but it worked despite their contrasting characters because of a natural chemistry and shared sense of humour between Roger Moore and Tony Curtis.
What really made “The Persuaders” was the glamorous international locations, sports cars, sexy ladies and sharp suits, not to mention the wonderful theme music by James Bond film producer John Barrie. With these ingredients, Roger Moore could not have had a better screen test and audition for the role of James Bond, which he was to take up the following year in 1973 in “Live & Let Die”!!
As Roger Moore took up the role of 007, the void left by “The Persuaders” was filled by the similar named “The Protectors” ( starring Robert Vaughan and Nyree Dawn Porter ), but it paled in comparison to “The Persuaders” and is best remembered for its theme music, “Avenues and Alleyways” by Tony Christie.
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