"Hot Snow" marks the beginning of a series that would see many changes over the years, and finally total 161 episodes. THE AVENGERS, one of Britain's most beloved international successes, began in December 1960, a quick replacement for the short-lived POLICE SURGEON, featuring the same star, Ian Hendry, now with a partner, initially a mysterious stranger called Steed, to be played by Patrick Macnee. Unfortunately, only the first 15 minutes of this debut episode have survived, and Macnee does not appear (in fact, the only surviving first season episodes with Steed are "The Frighteners" and the recently rediscovered "Tunnel of Fear" since he is absent from "Girl on the Trapeze"). We start with a man named Spicer (Godfrey Quigley), silently stalking through the home of Dr. David H. Keel (Ian Hendry), who announces to his partner, Dr. Richard J. Tredder (Philip Stone) that he is about to marry his fiancée Peggy (Katherine Woodville). Spicer has been sent to recover a package of heroin accidentally sent to the wrong surgery, and the villains believe that Peggy would be able to identify one of the gang. Incredibly, the face of the gang's boss remains hidden from view, just like Ernst Stavro Blofeld, even stroking a small dog rather than a cat. All three henchmen (the other two played by Murray Melvin and Charles Wade) wait near a jeweler's shop to gun down the unsuspecting Peggy (no gunshot is heard), collapsing in her fiancée's arms, as Dr. Keel stares at his own blood-stained hand in disbelief. It is at this point that the footage comes to a halt (all six actors who appear on screen accounted for), before Keel finds the police little help in tracking down the criminal gang, but aid arrives in the person of John Steed, with everything being wrapped up in the second episode, "Brought to Book." This conclusion brought back Godfrey Quigley, later seen in "The White Elephant, Alister Williamson, later seen in "The Living Dead," Robert James, later seen in "Death A La Carte," "Too Many Christmas Trees," and "Look- (stop me if you've heard this one) But There Were These Two Fellers...", and Philip Stone. Moira Redmond played a different character in the lost episode "Kill the King," while Katherine Woodville did the same in the next season's "Propellant 23." Incidentally, Katherine Woodville was married to Patrick Macnee from 1965-1969, but remained married to actor Edward Laurence Albert from 1979 until his 2006 death. Perhaps the remainder of this tantalizing opening may appear someday, time will tell. The next surviving episode is number 6, "Girl on the Trapeze."
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