Site hosted by Build your free website today!

The Avengers Shrine

Welcome To The Avengers Shrine's New Home Note the old site will no longer be updated and this will be the home to The Avengers Shrine

1 Hot Snow 02 Brought to Book 03 Square Root of Evil 04 Nightmare 05 Crescent Moon 06 Girl on the Trapeze 07 Diamond Cut Diamond 08 The Radioactive Man 09 Ashes of Roses 10 Please Don't Feed the Animals 11 Hunt the Man Down 12 Dance with Death 13 One for the Mortuary . 14 The Springers 15 The Frighteners 16 The Yellow Needle 17 Death on the Slipway 18 Double Danger 19 Toy Trap 20 Tunnel of Fear 21 The Far-Distant Dead 22 Kill the King 23 Dead of Winter 24 The Deadly Air 25 A Change of Bait 26 Dragonsfield

27 Mr Teddy Bear 28 Propellant 23* 29 The Decapod (VS) 30 Bullseye* 31 Mission to Montreal* (MK) 32 The Removal Men* (VS) 33 The Mauritius Penny* 34 Death of a Great Dane* 35 The Sell-Out* (MK) 36 Death on the Rocks* 37 Traitor in Zebra 38 The Big Thinker 39 Death Dispatch 40 Dead On Course (MK) 41 Intercrime* 42 Immortal Clay* 43 Box of Tricks (VS) 44 Warlock 45 The Golden Eggs* 46 School for Traitors* (VS) 47 The White Dwarf 48 Man in the Mirror (VS) 49 Conspiracy of Silence* 50 A Chorus of Frogs (VS) 51 Six Hands Across A Table* 52 Killer Whale . . 53 Brief for Murder* 54 The Undertakers 55 Man With Two Shadows 56 The Nutshell 57 Death of a Batman 58 November Five 59 The Gilded Cage* 60 Second Sight 61 The Medicine Men* 62 The Grandeur That Was Rome* 63 The Golden Fleece 64 Don't Look Behind You 65 Death la Carte* 66 Dressed to Kill 67 The White Elephant* 68 The Little Wonders 69 The Wringer 70 Mandrake 71 The Secrets Broker* 72 Trojan Horse* 73 Build a Better Mousetrap 74 The Outside-In Man* 75 The Charmers 76 Concerto* 77 Esprit de Corps 78 Lobster Quadrille

79 The Town of No Return* 080 The Gravediggers* 081 The Cybernauts 082 Death at Bargain Prices 083 Castle De'ath 084 The Master Minds 085 The Murder Market 086 A Surfeit of H2O 087 The Hour That Never Was 088 Dial a Deadly Number 089 Man-Eater of Surrey Green 090 Two's a Crowd 091 Too Many Christmas Trees 092 Silent Dust 093 Room Without a View* 094 Small Game for Big Hunters* 095 The Girl from Auntie 096 The Thirteenth Hole 097 Quick-Quick Slow Death 098 The Danger Makers 099 A Touch of Brimstone 100 What the Butler Saw* 101 The House That Jack Built 102 A Sense of History 103 How To Succeed....At Murder 104 Honey for the Prince . . 105 From Venus With Love 106 The Fear Merchants* 107 Escape in Time 108 The See-Through Man* 109 The Bird Who Knew Too Much* 110 The Winged Avenger 111 The Living Dead 112 The Hidden Tiger 113 The Correct Way to Kill 114 Never, Never Say Die 115 Epic 116 The Superlative Seven 117 A Funny Thing Happened 103 on the Way to the Station 118 Something Nasty in the Nursery 119 The Joker 120 Who's Who??? SEASON 5B 121 Return of the Cybernauts 122 Death's Door 123 The 50,000 Breakfast 124 Dead Man's Treasure 125 You Have Just Been Murdered 126 The Positive Negative Man 127 Murdersville 128 Mission... Highly Improbable

129 The Forget-Me-Knot 130 Game* 131 Super Secret Cypher Snatch* 132 You'll Catch Your Death 133 Split! 134 Whoever Shot Poor George 134 Oblique Stroke XR40? 135 False Witness* 136 All Done with Mirrors* 137 Legacy of Death 138 Noon Doomsday* 139 Look - (stop me if you've heard 138 this one) But There Were 138 These Two Fellers... 140 Have Guns - Will Haggle 141 They Keep Killing Steed 142 The Interrogators 143 The Rotters 144 Invasion of the Earthmen* . . 145 Killer* 146 The Morning After 147 The Curious Case of the 147 Countless Clues 148 Wish You Were Here 149 Love All* 150 Stay Tuned 151 Take Me To Your Leader* 152 Fog* 153 Who Was That Man I Saw 153 You With?* 154 Homicide and Old Lace* 155 Thingumajig 156 My Wildest Dream 157 Requiem* 158 Take-Over 159 Pandora 160 Get-A-Way! 161 Bizarre

It all started with a suggestion. The year was 1960. Howard Thomas, Managing Director of the Associated British Corporation, suggested to Sydney Newman, Director of Drama, that ABC's dramatic lineup might be better balanced with the addition of lighter fare, such as a thriller. This got Sydney thinking about a new television program formula: A mix of tongue-in-cheek humor and espionage thrills. Meanwhile, Leonard White was having a bit of trouble with a show he was co-producing, Police Surgeon. Although its star, the late Ian Hendry, was popular, the show just wasn't going anywhere. So Newman and White teamed up to rework the ailing show to fit its star into the new formula, a formula that was also to include a secret agent. Now, who to play the agent? Newman had worked with Patrick Macnee producing a television project two years prior, and invited him to appear on the show as the mysterious spy John Steed. (It is possible that Newman was inspired by a real-life spy named Phillip John Stead.) Macnee was not interested in another acting job--he wanted to continue pursuing production--but rather than flatly refuse, he decided to ask for what might have been considered an outrageous salary. To his surprise, Newman agreed. Thus began The Avengers. And the formula worked--so well, in fact, that John Steed gradually became the favored character, even though he was second-banana to Ian Hendry's Dr. David Keel. (Because Keel was the main character, there are actually a couple of Avengers episodes in which Steed does not appear!) Of the series Patrick Macnee has remarked, "[Ian Hendry and I] used to drink so much that when we watched it, the alcohol told us it was terrific, but in fact I think it was pretty awful." (Patrick Macnee speaking to Steve Hockensmith of Cinescape Magazine.) As for the shows themselves, we may never get to see any of them again, save for one, "The Frighteners," which had been transferred to film and recently unearthed by Dave Rogers (author of many Avengers books). Several episodes were broadcast live and so they do not exist in any form. While the rest were videotaped, they are presumed lost as well. But with the renewed interest in the program, a substantial effort may be mounted to search for more "lost" episodes. Stay tuned!
After a successful first season of The Avengers, an Equity strike in 1961 shut down production at episode 26 out of a planned 39, and did not resume for nearly a year. By the time the dust had settled, Ian Hendry (who played Dr. David Keel, original partner for John Steed) left the show to pursue a film career--a recurring theme for Avengers costars. The producers asked Patrick Macnee to stay on, and he agreed. What audiences didn't know was that episode 27 of the first season was set to introduce a new partner for Steed: a jazz singer named Venus Smith, a total innocent used by Steed to assist with some aspects of his investigations. She was to alternate with Keel, which would have made Steed the main character by default, despite his having originally been second fiddle to the doctor. Angela Douglas was to have played Venus but was unavailable, so out of 51 applicants, second-pick Julie Stevens got the part. With Hendry gone, Jon Rollason briefly served as his replacement, Dr. Martin King, but lasted only for the first three episodes produced, which were leftover first season Dr. Keel scripts. Meanwhile, Syndey Newman, the show's creator, decided to cast a woman as Steed's new primary partner. His inspiration was drawn from a news report from Kenya featuring a woman whose family was being ravaged by terrorists. Cathy Gale was to become the first truly liberated, self-sufficient, fighting female character ever created for television, and way, way ahead of her time. Nyree Dawn Porter (who appeared in the first season episode, "Death on the Slipway") would have been signed for the part of Cathy Gale had she been available at the time, so Honor Blackman got the role by default. Newman was not especially pleased by the choice of Honor Blackman, as he was familiar with her film career playing English rose types and was convinced she could not play the role as he'd envisioned it. This explains the marked shift in Cathy's character between her first episode, "Death Dispatch," and her second, "Warlock." In the former she was, in general, fairly pleasant, and smiled frequently. Newman warned that her tenure would be short-lived if she ever smiled like that again, thus she became noticeably "harder." The black leather craze that Honor is credited for starting came about as a matter of practicality, not fashion sense. Tired of Cathy producing a gun from her purse week after week, the producers began a shift away from firearms and, after a brief attempt at hiding knives and the like on her person, settled on hand-to-hand combat. Honor was enrolled in a crash-course in Judo, and within weeks became adept at throwing extras across the studio--for real. Dresses, however, proved quite impractical when being flung about in a fight, and after she split the seam of a pair of slacks on-camera, Patrick Macnee suggested suede, but because of lighting problems, leather became the choice. An exclusive fashion designer was called in to create a wardrobe of skin-tight leather fighting gear for Honor, and a new fashion trend was born. Any hints at "kinkiness," by the way, were quite deliberate.
In December of 1963, three months prior to the completion of the second Cathy Gale series, an American film producer made ABC (Associated British Corporation, not to be confused with the American Broadcasting Corporation) a tempting offer: Turn The Avengers into a major motion picture. Around the same time, yet another American film producer suggested making The Avengers a Broadway musical! But before ABC could respond to any of these offers, they had to deal with a much more urgent issue: Honor Blackman had decided to leave. Stories vary as to her reasons, but the outcome was the same. She had accepted a role offered her in the James Bond film, Goldfinger. With no female lead to offer any prospective investors, ABC pulled the plug on The Avengers altogether in order to regroup. After spending six months in limbo, the studio decided to turn the property over to Telemen Limited, headed by Julian Wintle, who recruited Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens to continue the series for television on film. . Their first challenge was not simply replacing Honor Blackman, but replacing Cathy Gale; since Honor had made the character what she was, there was no point in trying to find another actress to assume the same role. From their drawing board emerged Emma Peel (the name supposedly derived from the term "man appeal," shortened to "m-appeal," a brainstorm by the producers' press officer). While different from Cathy Gale, Mrs. Peel's similarity to Cathy was mission-critical: She was to be every bit as emancipated as her predecessor. After months of searching, Elizabeth Shepherd was signed on for the role. However, after completing "The Town of No Return" and half of "The Murder Market," the producers concluded that, while talented, she was not right for the part. Further casting searches led to an actress who had recently appeared in an Armchair Theater play, "The Hothouse." Convinced she wasn't right for the part, Diana Rigg, then 28, nevertheless agreed to audition "for a giggle," unaware that she was about to make television history. . It couldn't have been a better choice, particularly in the minds of most male fans. As one chap put it, "Give a man a pudding and Diana Rigg during the lunch hour and experience shows he will be a thing of slobbering contentment from start to finish." (New York Newsday, 3 April 1994) In addition to a new female lead, The Avengers received a complete stylistic overhaul. The new producers realized the tremendous value in attracting an international audience, so they essentially turned the show into a tourist promotion. The move from videotape to film allowed them to move from studio to countryside, providing everyone with the best views England had to offer. John Steed was also re-tooled: He became excruciatingly Anglicized, playing to the hilt every upper-class British mannerism known, which was appreciated by fans both at home and abroad. The producers laid down a few ground rules that were to shape the new series: No extras on the streets, no policemen, no killing women, and no blood (although all of these directives were broken at one time or another). Clemens' stated purpose was to create a "fantasy land" setting for the stories, so that any story, no matter how bizarre, could be told. Indeed, the stories shifted from slightly fanciful espionage yarns to wildly fantastic, quasi-science fiction tales about mad scientists, man-eating plants and killer robots. The fighting became an intelligent caricature, as exemplified by Patrick Macnee's own ground rule of refusing to carry a firearm. "I'm not going to carry a gun," he asserts, "I'm going to carry my brain." ABC also turned the fashion aspect of the program into a franchise, hiring top-drawer designers and filling the boutiques of Europe with Avengers clothing and accessories. The world would never be the same.
Since Diana Rigg was essentially out of the picture even before the first color season was completed, the producers had started a search for a replacement. Several guest actresses were considered, and some hush-hush screen tests were being done (Patrick Macnee for one was kept in the dark). But it all came apart when the new season drew near and utter chaos slowly engulfed the studio. Thames Television (formerly Associated British Corporation) decided to make a substantial stylistic shift from fantasy back toward reality, and in a mysterious power play ostensibly involving John Steed's characterization, Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell were shown the door. John Bryce, who produced three-fourths of the Cathy Gale episodes, was appointed the new producer. Macnee contemplated his future with the show, but hung in there long enough to see the tables turn yet again. Barely completing three episodes ("Invitation To A Killing," "The Great Great Britain Crime" and "Invasion of the Earthmen") and falling behind schedule, Bryce found himself in way over his head, so Clemens and Fennell were asked back and granted complete control. Well, almost... They had to live with Diana Rigg's replacement, who was signed on in their absence under the approval of Don Boyle, head of ABC in America. Selected out of 200 applicants and told to lose weight and go blonde (makes one wonder what the other 199 were like), Linda Thorson became Steed's new partner, much to the frustration of Clemens and Fennel. While I once numbered myself amongst the many rabid "Tara-bashers" that still exist today, when I learned the history of her tenure, I became rather sympathetic. Fresh out of school, the 20-year-old Thorson (who chose the name Tara King for herself) had never stepped in front of a camera, yet she was given a very demanding part--made more so by the legacy of her predecessors--in a cutthroat industry. Worse, it was decided to make her character a bit more "helpless" than her predecessors, a decision that did not go over well at all with fans. While she did eventually become an accomplished actress, it was too late to help save The Avengers. Ironically, when John Bryce was sacked, Thorson spoke of leaving, but Macnee talked her out of it--something he wishes he'd done with Diana Rigg. Pressed for time by the contract with ABC in America, Clemens and Fennell were forced to rework the material Bryce left behind, rather than start anew. Tara was introduced in "The Forget-Me-Knot" (claimed by some sources to have been an unfinished Rigg episode) instead of the 90-minute pilot "Invitation To A Killing" Bryce had created. "Invitation" was chopped down to become "Have Guns - Will Haggle," and a leftover Emma Peel script, "Split!," was recycled. . Representing an uneven mix of Bryce and Clemens/Fennell material, the first seven episodes completed (indicated in the index as season 6A) were shipped, together with the last eight Rigg episodes (season 5B), to the U.S. for their season three. These had opening and closing titles done in a "shooting gallery" style. (In homage to Diana Rigg, "The Forget-Me-Knot" had modified Emma Peel opening titles and Tara King closing titles.) Subsequently the U.S. ordered a full season of 26 episodes (season 6B), at which point new titles were created using an outdoor setting with suits of armor and flowers--substantially shortened by the U.S.--and card trick closing credits. Using its status as principal backer, the U.S. also requested the addition of Mother as a regular, among other things. . Meanwhile, the British held off until the second U.S. order was completed before airing any of them, thus the U.K. season wound up with 33 episodes. They also substituted the newer title style on all of the earlier episodes (with the single exception of "Split!" for some unknown reason). And just to make matters more confusing, they were not broadcast in production order, with 6A and 6B episodes randomly mixed, although there is no ideal way to represent this. So, when viewing the U.S. market copies in the original U.K. transmission order, the title style keeps changing back and forth. The review pages have title icons to indicate 6A/6B episodes. Despite having to deal with any number of unfortunate circumstances, Clemens and Fennell made a valiant effort, and while they varied considerably in quality, the shows were generally enjoyable. But the deck was stacked against them, and it wasn't all Tara's fault. In fact, you could say the U.S. helped kill the very show it helped produce, because ABC ran the show against mega-hit Laugh-In. Having been utterly demolished by a ratings war--a unique American innovation--there were no further orders forthcoming from the U.S., and so The Avengers came to an abrupt end in February 1969. Many attempts were made to revive the corpse...

"Extraordinary Crimes against the people...and the state... must be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed, top professional..." "I tried work once. It didn't work out... Too much like work." (The Murder Market) John Steed, Eton, British Army guards regiment (or so he said in the episode The Murder Market, but Steed was known to lie when it suited him), further service and duties with Her Majesty's Government.... Classified. Operating behind the cover of a man-about-town, John Steed was England's number one spy. The country would have fallen to any one of a number of diabolical masterminds but for Steed and his (current) partner. Debonaire and polished to a fault, he drove vintage automobiles, wore tailored suits, bought his bowlers at the best hat shop, and drank only the best champagne...frequently. All on a civil servant's salary. How he managed, we never knew.

The Avengers Forevers' Trivia Quiz

Continue Thrue The Shrine