The Avengers Series 3

John Steed

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 1 – Brief for Murder

Whoop de doo, it’s season three of The Avengers and to celebrate its continuing success, the opening credits have been given a bit of a makeover – they’re much more Saul Bass now – there’s more money being spent on the production, the camerawork is more filmic and the editing is noticeably snappier. Brian Clemens has … Read more

Honor Blackman, Lally Bowers

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 2 – The Undertakers

  On Saturday 5 October 1963, a day after the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had updated their plan to invade Cuba the following July (President Kennedy’s assassination would intervene), and while JFK’s wife Jackie was enjoying the company of shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis in Greece (she would later marry him), TV audiences in the … Read more

Cathy Gale assesses John Steed

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 3 – Man with Two Shadows

  Shown the same day that RA (“Rab”) Butler made his big pitch to be the new leader of the Conservative party after Macmillan’s shock resignation (Butler’s big speech was a total fail), Man with Two Shadows also plays with the idea of the wrong man – the double being so fruitful a concept that The … Read more

edina ronay and patrick macnee

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 4 – The Nutshell

    Roughly five months after it was made in May 1963, on 19 October, the day that the 14thEarl of Home – who had not been elected to any office at all – was announced as the new prime minister of the country, the United Kingdom sat down to watch The Nutshell, the fourth episode … Read more

André Morell and Philip Madoc

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 5 – Death of a Batman

    An episode called Death of a Batman in a series called The Avengers does sound like something DC Comics and Marvel might cook up between them. But here the word batman is used in the British Army sense – he’s essentially a butler to one of the officers, the class system as rigid in … Read more

Cathy and Steed confer

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 6 – November Five

    Classic ass-backwards Avengers plotting is the hallmark of November Five, the sixth episode of the third series, which was first broadcast on Saturday 2 November 1963, three days before the Fifth of November (as it’s always called in the UK, in the same way that the Fourth of July is never July Four … Read more

Honor Blackman and Edric Connor

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 7 – The Gilded Cage

Shown on 9 November 1963, just one day after five thieves had almost nabbed a king’s ransom of jewels and gold on the streets of Manhattan –they were thwarted because the getaway driver couldn’t work the manual gears of the heisted station wagon – The Gilded Cage is all about vast amounts of gold, which, … Read more

Villain prepares for operation

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 8 – Second Sight

  We’re finally arriving in upstream waters in Second Sight, first broadcast on Saturday 16 November 1963. “Upstream” means rarefied settings, no members of the public, posh accents, plots full of techy marvels and lots of improbable bullshit – ideal spawning territory for The Avengers.     Corneal grafts are what it’s all about. Not that … Read more

John Steed and artist Frank Leeson

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 9 – The Medicine Men

  The Medicine Men first went out on 23 November 1963, the day after the assassination of President Kennedy in the USA, and on the same night as the first episode of Doctor Who (also created by Avengers creator Sydney Newman). Of course none of this is reflected in the episode, which was made a … Read more

Mrs Gale is held by Roman soldiers

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 10 – The Grandeur That Was Rome

  As prescient as a hot button shop, The Grandeur That Was Rome is also proper Avengers stuff – arcane, bonkers, camp, with implausible undercover work and mad hair. Even before the opening credits have flipped into view (and no pre-credits murder this time, thankfully) we’ve been treated to Roman senators, gladiators, toasts uttered in … Read more

John Steed on the phone

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 11 – The Golden Fleece

  After the camp fun of the previous week’s episode, The Grandeur That Was Rome, a bit of a bump as we touch back down on planet Earth for a much more realistic Avengers episode – The Golden Fleece. Warren Mitchell gets the first word, only three years from starring in the series that would make … Read more

Ola with a lighted taper

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 12 – Don’t Look Behind You

  Don’t Look Behind You is Brian Clemens’s second script for this series of the Avengers, and his fourth to date. And it’s a cheeky lift of the Old Dark House story.   In other words there is no typical Avengers setup of a corpse before the episode title has come up, and little in … Read more

Mrs Gale with Steed in chef's whites

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 13 – Death a la Carte

  First broadcast on 21 December 1963 – a more obviously Christmas-y episode would go out the following week – Death a la Carte is pretty much The Avengers as usual. Which means: exotic foreigners, death served up in unusual ways and a bit of stealth undercover work for Steed and/or Gale.     Both … Read more

Leonard Rossiter as Robin Hood

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 14 – Dressed to Kill

  So here we are, at Christmas 1963 (the 28 December, to be exact), with Dressed to Kill, a special seasonal episode written by Brian Clemens, who gets everyone into pantomime mode by setting the action on a train heading for a fancy dress party.     Steed is on board, dressed in Wild West … Read more

Judy Parfitt

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 15 – The White Elephant

  For the first episode of 1964, broadcast on 4 January, the day that Auburn University in Alabama accepted Harold A Franklin as its first black student (accompanied by three US marshals and 100 state police to keep the mob at bay), John Steed and Mrs Gale are on the case of a missing albino … Read more

Steed and Gale kiss

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 16 – The Little Wonders

  Whether it’s spelt Bibliotek, Bibliotech or Bibliotheque, the crime organisation at the centre of The Little Wonders is a brilliant creation by writer Eric Paice, an international, centuries-old outfit whose members go around dressed as clerics.   Hence the funny pre-credits sequence of the Bishop of Winnipeg (David Bauer), a man with a dodgy … Read more

Patrick Macnee and Peter Sallis

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 17 – The Wringer

  Peter Sallis hasn’t yet developed the voice that would make him the ideal Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) in his outing as an amnesiac spook on the run in The Wringer, an episode in which a string of spies have been killed and Steed has been brought in to find out why, which … Read more

Honor Blackman and John Le Mesurier

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 18 – Mandrake

  The United States launched the Echo 2 satellite on 25 January 1964, the day that the Mandrake episode of The Avengers aired. And though the week before’s outing, The Wringer, had been a very up-to-date affair, set in the world of international espionage and modern brainwashing techniques, Mandrake harks back to earlier episodes of … Read more

Patricia English and Ronald Allen

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 19 – The Secrets Broker

The Beatles were number one in America for the first time, with I Want to Hold Your Hand, when this latest episode of The Avengers, The Secrets Broker, aired in the UK on 1 February 1964. But though The Avengers went on to become one of the key harmonics of the Swinging London vibe, there’s … Read more

Mrs Gale and Tony Heuston

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 20 – Trojan Horse

At one point almost every episode of The Avengers started with a death before the opening credits. Trojan Horse plays with that idea, showing us a punter who won’t pay his betting debts being killed by some heavies. After his killers have left the scene, the dead man gets up and walks away. It’s a … Read more

Steed charms his way into the gang

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 21 – Build a Better Mousetrap

Build a Better Mousetrap is a great episode of The Avengers – it’s Brian Clemens at his best, from its very Clemens-y joshing title, to his use of British eccentrics, and his mix of the venerable with the modern, the tech with the antique and the old with the young, not forgetting Clemens’s usual dabble … Read more

Steed and Gale

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 22 – The Outside-In Man

Whether The Avengers is or isn’t a spy series depends very much on the episode you watch. In The Outside-In Man we’re very much in spy mode, right from the opening scene, in which Steed is seen walking into a butcher’s shop. Then, Man from Uncle style (which was in development when this episode aired … Read more

Fenella Fielding publicity shot for The Charmers

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 23 – The Charmers

  Charm, rather than grit or narrative or psychological coherence, are really what The Avengers are about, and in the appropriately titled The Charmers we get tons of it, thanks to a fine script by Brian Clemens and light, deft playing by the guest actors.     It’s also, more or less, the first of … Read more

Nigel Stock and Patrick Macnee

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 24 – Concerto

  Shot in April 1963 but not actually broadcast until April 1964, Concerto is a spytastic episode with a Cold War setting, espionage chicanery and so on, with a plot about a concert pianist being accused of rape and murder. Or more to the point, a plot about Steed and his Russian opposite number Zalenko … Read more

Honor Blackman, Duncan Macrae and John Thaw in Esprit de Corps

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 25 – Esprit De Corp

  Esprit De Corps is a mad and twisty Avengers episode, one of many dealing with the subject of indoctrination, the focus here being an army unit that’s going to launch a coup d’etat and put the “rightful” heir back on the throne.     Mad enough, but there’s a fruitloop turn to come which … Read more

Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman publicity shot

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 26 – Lobster Quadrille

  Episodes of The Avengers were often not shown in production order. But Lobster Quadrille was both the last one broadcast and the last one made in series three, going out on 21 March 1964, a day after it had been finished.   It’s also Honor Blackman’s farewell episode, before she headed off to be … Read more