“Mrs Peel, we’re needed.”
The Avengers is one of the most fondly thought of Cult TV shows of all time. It one of the slickest British productions ever made, which is a testimony to the fantastic acting talent and production crew.
It started life as a kind of spin off to the early ’60s drama Police Surgeon, which starred Ian Hendry as Dr Geoffrey Brent a London doctor who also works as a police surgeon. Although audiences responded positively to Hendry, the series itself did not prove to be particularly popular, and so ABC decided to cancel it after twelve episodes. However, Director of Drama Sydney Newman stepped in and gave Police Surgeon a new lease on life. Hot to capitalize on Hendry’s star potential, he added a co-star, Patrick Macnee and Dr. Geoffrey Brent became Dr. David Keel. In the opening episode, Keel’s wife has been murdered. He soon joined by government agent John Steed (McNee) to Avenge her death.
Hendry decided not to continue after the first season and top billing was passed to McNee who was assisted by number of companions in the second season. By the third season the studio settled with the judo kicking Cathy Gale played by Honnor Blackman as Steed’s partner.But Blackman left the show at the end of the season to play Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. Diana Rigg then joined the show as Emma Peel for two seasons, then Linda Thorson was Tara King for a season and then finally by Gareth Hunt and Joanna Lumley were Gambit and Purdey in ’70s update ‘The New Avengers’.
Although the show stated out as a gritty crime thriller it was not long before it evolved into a surreal, stylish action adventure series that is still loved the world over. Cult TV at its very best.