The Avengers Series 1

Katherine Woodville and Ian Hendry

The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 1 – Hot Snow

In many ways the British TV series The Avengers was the Beatles of TV. The series was created in 1961 by Sydney Newman (who also created Doctor Who) as a gritty black and white TV programme very much in thrall to existing 1950s styles and finished in 1969 a spy series with kaleidoscope eyes. Over its long and winding run people came and went, sidekicks were added and dropped and women became an increasingly important part of the mix. Like all long-running series it became a stopping off point for all sorts – stars on the climb and on the wane, directors learning their craft, scriptwriters ditto. Christopher Lee and Charlotte Rampling are … Read more

Heavy Zibbo waves a gun in Dr Keel's face

The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 6 – Girl on the Trapeze

The sixth episode of the series (numbers two to five having vanished) and we’re edging into what would later be familiar Avengers territory. There are devious foreigners, a complex plot and a surprising amount of agency for the female sidekick. Dennis Spooner’s screenplay concerns a woman throwing herself off a London bridge into the Thames, an act which Dr Keel (Ian Hendry) just happens to witness as he’s on the way to a party. Being a public spirited chap he rushes down the steps to the river, where a passing copper and a swarthy type with a thick accent are already on the scene. The woman is dead, but there’s not much water … Read more

Doris Hare, Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry

The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 15 – The Frighteners

  The 15th of 26 episodes in the first series is a story that Humphrey Bogart might recognise. A tale of a greasy heel sending his thugs around to put “the frighteners” on a society lothario who is wooing the impressionable daughter of a local business big noise, it looks and feels every inch like a film noir. It’s something director Peter Hammond clearly relishes and, on a TV budget, he does impressive things with pools of shadow, out of which loom both goodies and baddies. Two levels of baddies, what’s more – the Deacon (Willoughby Goddard) is the sweaty and corpulently effete manager of muscle, while Sir Thomas Weller (Stratford Johns) is … Read more

John Steed and David Keel

The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 20 – Tunnel of Fear

For a long time it was thought that only a couple of episodes from series one of The Avengers had survived. And then Tunnel of Fear turned up in a “private film collection”, as the press release guardedly puts it, swelling the number of complete episodes from two to a mighty three out of a possible 26. There’s about a third of the very first episode, Hot Snow, too – reviewed here. We might not have the full run of the season but with Tunnel of Fear we now have enough to get a sketchy impression of the direction of the show. Hot Snow in first position establishing David Keel (Ian Hendry) as a … Read more