Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Top TV of the sixties - (1) The Avengers

Few of you will be old enough (or nerdy enough) to remember two key facts about The Avengers.  Firstly, why it was called The Avengers and secondly (not unconnected) who played John Steed's first sidekick.

In the beginning...

...was police surgeon, Dr David Keel (played by Ian Hendry). When Dr Keel's wife is murdered, he enlists agent John Steed to help him avenge her death. Hence, The Avengers.

Given the premise and the fact that the show was a spin off of Police Surgeon, the original series tone was much grittier than later productions.

Mrs Gale

However, once Hendry departed (to build a career as a much respected actor in shows such as The Lotus Eaters), Honor Blackman arrived, as the leather-clad ju-jitsu specialist, Mrs Cathy Gale and a TV cult was born.
Incidentally, her attacker in this clip is the famous all-in wrestling "villain", Jackie Pallo, who allegedly came off much the worse in this encounter, when Honor accidentally kicked him in the face and knocked him out.

Soon though, Honor Blackman elected to pit her fighting skills (and the rest!) against James Bond in Goldfinger (complete with that name worthy of Carry On Spying- "Pussy Galore").

Mrs Peel

This cleared the way for John Steed to have a second glamorous married accomplice - everybody's favourite (well, mine, for sure!), Mrs Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg.
By this time, the house-style had taken on a more light-hearted tone, except for the occasional episode. Anybody remember an episode called "The House That Jack Built" in which, with Steed otherwise occupied, Emma is lured to a deserted mansion by a demented ex-employee, who plans to torment and then drive her to commit suicide? 

Ah, Mrs Peel - just as adept in leather as her predecessor and (for some of us) rather more tempting...

Steed and Emma were the perfect TV couple...

...until her long lost husband was rescued from the jungle....


Exit Mrs (and Mr) Peel. Enter (not Mrs) Tara King:

Played by Canadian actress, Linda Thorson, Tara was a more traditionally feminine partner-in-crime-fighting for Steed, but still capable off doing her share of kicking and flinging:

1969 saw the end of The Avengers with a final episode, appropriately titled "Bizarre" in which Steed and Tara are inadvertently sent into space...

Steed would, of course, return in 1976, with Purdy, her haircut..and some other bloke whose name escapes me...But that's a story for the 70s.

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