24 June 1966: Los Angeles Times

Avengers Waiting in Wings

No one has yet figured out just what kind of vengeance The Avengers are seeking. There is even some confusion about the reasons John Steed and Mrs. Emma Peel seek out and destroy badmen every week.

This lack of motivation bothers few viewers, for the simple reason is that The Avengers are long on cool, usually in violent conflict, and one could hardly ask for a more droll pair than Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg.

The series was a British success long before ABC decided it was needed to patch up a Monday night schedule. The original female lead was Honor Blackman, but she moved on to play Pussy Galore in “Goldfinger.”

Best From Britain

No matter, The Avengers without honor is just about the best TV show to come out of England since Secret Agent.

Not that those two shows can be compared. Patrick McGoohan is an upright, moral servant of some unknown agency of her majesty’s government. He doesn’t play around with girls (like James Bond) and each week the fate of the western world depends on his skill.

The Avengers, as far as I can tell, work only for themselves. None of that grubby spy work for the elegantly attired John Steed. No lofty speeches, either, from the suggestively customed Mrs. Peel.

Miss Rigg just happens to have left the Royal Shakespeare Company for a fling at Karate and television. She is one of the most exciting females in the world and when she visited here before the program came to the United States, she had not the slightest illusion about The Avengers.

Steed’s Foil

Some asked what such a splendidly trained actress was doing in such a program. Diana simply pointed at Macnee and said: “I am a foil for John Steed.”

Did Miss Rigg understand why such elegant, educated, rich persons as Steed and Mrs. Peel chose to fight crime? said Diana: “it’s fun.”

British TV reviewers have complained often that the plots of The Avengers frequently make no sense. Did Diana understand the stories. Quite primly, she responded: “Yes, quite often.”

Macnee, a versatile fellow who was producer of the TV documentary series on Sir Winston Churchill, had a long fling at Hollywood before settling down to The Avengers.

“I loved California,” he said, “but Walt Disney kept casting me as a villain.”


In London (before The Avengers), things were different. Macnee was usually cast as the heel who loses the girl.

There’s little hope for many shows of the ABC TV “second season.” Disappearing are Blue Light, The Double Life of Henry Phyffe and The Baron. Nor is The Avengers in the fall schedule but it will probably be held as the network’s first standby, the show that will be used to replace the first failure. It is certain to be back, at some time.

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