After years of ho-humming and “I don’t know if I shoulds” I finally treated myself to a giant (and strangely very expensive) compete box set of the old 1961-1969 spy/fantasy show, The Avengers. The show stars Patrick Macnee as the super suave, charming yet by today’s standards creepily lechy superspy John Steed and a collection of partners, the most famous being Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg, solving a load of tongue-in-cheek mysteries and threats to British national security.
The early stories were videotaped in black and white, and are quite difficult for a modern TV watcher to view, but from the fourth season on were filmed in B&W and then colour. What makes the series great fun to watch is the genuine chemistry between Macnee and his co- stars, with Steed’s charm and sexual innuendo easily being parried by his female partners who are for the most part more than a match for him.
The show itself has now entered TV history, with Blackman accidentally becoming a feminist icon after she came late to the series and so had to literally play a character written for a man, fights and all. It was also one of the few UK TV shows actually shown on US network television.
The clip above, where Steed arrives (1:05) is typical of the banter. Keep an eye out for Steed’s checking out of Mrs Peel’s cleavage, and her response.
Incidentally, though expensive, the complete box set does come in a beautiful hardback book form which would make a lovely gift for the Avengers aficionado, especially as it is full of extras.