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Mrs. Peel is bequeathed an old house by an uncle Jack, whom she never knew existed. In the event, he did not exist. The house is a former lunatic asylum and it is all a ruse by a vengeful ex-employee...
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John Steed works for British Intelligence and works with various partners, notably: Ian Hendry (series one), Cathy Gale (series two and three), Emma Peel (series four and five), and Tara King (series six). The problems he finds are always a bit odd, just on the edge of science fiction (Cyborg killers, a city built under a disused coal mine, a gang put together for adrenaline junkies, and a killer who uses a concentrated cold virus to kill his victims by having them sneeze to death). Steed is always the ultimate in culture and grace as he saves the world each week. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
The adventures of a suave British agent John Steed and his sexy female sidekicks...
This highly popular and long running spy show was the brainchild of Canadian born producer Sidney Newman. It began life as a medical crime drama called "Police Surgeon" starring Ian Hendry as Dr David Keel a pathologist working for the London police. When this failed to take on with the public, the character called John Steed was created. In the first episode of the revamped show renamed "The Avengers", John Steed helps Dr David Keel to avenge the death of his wife because he happened to be after the same man. Steed and Keel would collaborate many more times to rid the streets of criminals. The new show took on much better but Ian Hendry departed after the first series and was replaced by Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, the first of the better known sexy sidekicks that would put the show firmly on the British TV show map. Blackman lasted two series and was then replaced by Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, a sexy auburn haired leather cladded woman who was expert at karate as well as having skills in a wide range of subjects such as chemistry. By now John Steed's English gentlemen image had been fully opened up, his bowler hat and umbrella was inspired by the film "Q-Plains". Steed's image also consisted of suave suits and he drove vintage cars, first a 1927 4 and a half litre Bentley and occasionally a speed six Bentley (circa 1926) and later a 1927 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in the Linda Thorson series. In one or two episodes, Steed could be seen driving a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom One. Emma Peel drove a 1966 Lotus Elan and Tara King was often seen behind the wheel of a Lotus as well.
By now the show had cracked the American market and it's success lead to the use of colour film for the last two series. Diana Rigg left in 1967 and her replacement was a young Canadian actress called Linda Thorson who played a young agent called Tara King. There was initial doubts about her suitability to the part, but the script writers modelled the character as a young agent who Steed was grooming and her skills developed as the series progressed. The series was a tremendous success in the UK, but in America it was less so. Therefore in 1969 the show was cancelled. However, in 1976, a revival series entitled "The New Avengers" surfaced co-produced by original producers Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens and a French production company (see separate review). Alas, financial problems saw the show cancelled after a year.
"The Avengers" is without doubt one of British TV's finest hours. In almost every episode superb character actors were drafted in to support Macnee and his co-stars. The plots were usually tight and the combination of fantasy and a unique brand of British humour rose the show well above the average sixties spy show. The most representative segments of the show are without doubt the Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson series. The Honor Blackman series has dated badly because the primitive video tape production techniques are less effective than the later filmed episodes and the style of the show was never really opened up until Diana Rigg joined the show. The writers most associated with the look of the programme are Brian Clemens and Philip Levene. There is only one episode of the Ian Hendry series left in existence and the majority of these were transmitted live.
Finally, here is a list of my recommended episodes, all are available on DVD.
Diana Rigg series: "The Gravediggers", "The Master Minds", "What The Butler Saw", "Room Without A View", "Epic", "The Living Dead" and "The Forget Me Knot" (in which Emma Peel left and Tara King joined).
Linda Thorson series: "Love All", "Requiem", "The Morning After", "The Rotters" and "Bizarre" (the very last episode in the series saw Steed and Tara take off in a rocket).
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