The Avengers Series 4

Emma Peel in fencing gear

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 1 – The Town of No Return

  And so, drum roll, The Town of No Return and the beginning of series 4. And with it the arrival of Diana Rigg as Mrs Emma Peel, the story going that the new partner for Steed would have to have “man appeal” or M-appeal for short. Hence the name.   She’s not the only … Read more

Steed tries to release Mrs Peel who is tied to the railway track

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 2 – The Gravediggers

  Like a classic album that warms us up with an opening track before hitting us with a doozy, episode two of series four of The Avengers, The Gravediggers, is vintage entertainment that gets just about everything right.   The plot is a mix of proper spy stuff and the eccentric, the macabre and the … Read more

cybernaut with Steed and Peel

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 3 – The Cybernauts

The sixth of the Diana Rigg episodes to be made, though the third to be shown, The Cybernauts looks vaguely back to the Honor Blackman era – Mrs Peel still in leather and a bit helmet-haired – but in other respects it’s the most forward-looking episode we’ve yet seen. Perhaps that’s what you’d expect with … Read more

Mrs Peel at gunpoint

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 4 – Death at Bargain Prices

  Charles Crichton directed one of the best Ealing comedies, 1951’s Lavender Hill Mob, and the highest grossing British comedy of the 1980s, 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda – both crime capers – so is just the man for an episode of The Avengers.   And the first shot of the first of five episodes … Read more

John Steed with a sword. Assailant with a gun

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 5 – Castle De’ath

  Three Bond movies had been released and a fourth was just around the corner, when Castle De’ath was broadcast on an autumnal Saturday night in 1965. It’s a mini-me version of Bond, with Scotland standing in for myriad exotic locations, a mini-sub standing in for all the 007 tech and Steed and Peel doing … Read more

Emma Peel with bow and arrow

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 6 – The Master Minds

The Master Minds was episode six in series four in transmission terms, but only the second episode that Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee had made together. Hence the not-quite-thereness of their relationship – notice throughout how rarely Rigg actually looks at Steed. By series five the two of them were locked in almost permanent ocular … Read more

Emma Peel in a coffin

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 7 – The Murder Market

  The Murder Market is one of the episodes first shot with Elizabeth Shepherd playing Mrs Peel, then reshot with Diana Rigg in the role after it was decided that Shepherd didn’t fit the bill. Hence the two directors on the imdb credits – Wolf Rilla shot the original, Peter Graham Scott this version, which … Read more

A man-shaped indentation in the ground

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 8 – A Surfeit of H2O

Undoubtedly a fancy episode when it first aired in late November 1965, A Surfeit of H2O manages to be whimsical, sinister, ridiculous and ingenious all in one go, with a good belt of fine character actors to help things along.   Water is what it’s about, as the title suggests, and before the title has … Read more

John Steed and Emma Peel on a deserted air base

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 9 – The Hour That Never Was

  Mrs Peel comes of age in The Hour That Never Was, the ninth episode of series 4 and a typical classic-era Avengers based on unlikely goings-on in locales almost devoid of people.   “Comes of age” because in this episode she is clearly smarter than Steed, being the first one to notice that time … Read more

Clifford Evans, Peter Bowles, Patrick Macnee

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 10 – Dial a Deadly Number

  Set in the world of the well-to-do, the very satisfying Dial a Deadly Number first aired in the UK in the early days of December 1965 and returns to two regular Avengers fascinations – businessmen and undertakers.   In what sounds like the setup to a joke, there are these three business magnates sitting … Read more

Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 11 – Man-Eater of Surrey Green

  Man-Eater of Surrey Green is the perfect Avengers episode title. Camp, corny, a bit sexy, a lot parochial, it sums up the series perfectly. And this episode, which is a mix of scientific blah blah and a lot of eccentric bombing about.   Things kick off when two lab-coated scientists in love (Gillian Lewis … Read more

Steed dead-ringer Gordon Webster

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 12 – Two’s a Crowd

  Tricks are what Two’s a Crowd is about, and the 12th episode of series four starts with two quite good ones. First up, a shot of a plane. It’s not a real plane, but a model, and the trick is that the model plane is meant to be a model, not – as was … Read more

Patrick Macnee surrounded by cutout Christmas trees

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 13 – Too Many Christmas Trees

  Time magazine’s Swinging London issue appeared in April 1966 and made “official” what had been obvious for some time – something was going on in the UK capital.   To find out what that looked like at the time, you could do worse than examine Too Many Christmas Trees, the Christmas Day episode of … Read more

Emma punts, Steed relaxes

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 14 – Silent Dust

  Silent Dust first aired on New Year’s Eve 1965 and from a 21st-century vantage point has all the makings of a very prescient episode of The Avengers. In what starts out as an obvious parody of a nature documentary, we first observe birds nesting in the trees, then watch as the birds start dropping … Read more

Mrs Peel behind bars

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 15 – Room Without a View

  The title of EM Forster’s novel is parodied in Room Without a View, for reasons which never really became clear to me, but then on looking back over my notes to this episode I realised I could remember barely any of it.   Some things I do remember, though, such as the bare bones … Read more

Liz Fraser, Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg on set

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 17 – The Girl from Auntie

  The Girl from Auntie this episode is called, a nod to The Man from Uncle, which had debuted about six months earlier on US TV and become an instant hit with its sexy spies, gadgets, 007 goofery and strong sense of the ridiculous, having clearly drunk from the same well as The Avengers.   All … Read more

Patrick Allen and Patrick Macnee

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 18 – The Thirteenth Hole

  The Thirteenth Hole sees Steed and Peel in action at a golf club where golfers seem to keep dying. Once again, it’s an episode with a needlessly elaborate plot about an international consortium of bad hats getting up to skulduggery. But instead of prosecuting their roguery from an office or a warehouse out on … Read more

Mrs Peel listens in as John Steed is spirited away

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 19 – Quick-Quick Slow Death

  Lean, arch and fast, Quick-Quick Slow Death is high-church Avengers, with barely a normal person in it. Instead a busload of eccentrics power a plot that starts odd – a full-grown man in evening dress and bearing a “Lucille” tattoo on his arm being disgorged from a baby’s runaway pram after it’s crashed at … Read more

Emma Peel plays a deadly beat the buzzer game

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 20 – The Danger Makers

  The Danger Makers is the 13th episode of The Avengers written by Roger Marshall, the amazingly prolific writer of scripts for everything from 1959’s William Tell to 1992’s London’s Burning by way of Public Eye, The Sweeney and Lovejoy. And it’s a bizarre and fascinating story, of men doing massively foolish things in an … Read more

Emma Peel as the Queen of Sin

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 21 – A Touch of Brimstone

  And so we come to A Touch of Brimstone, an episode that didn’t make it onto US TV screens in 1966, thanks to the bondage gear that Mrs Peel eventually gets into in the final scene.   How we get there is pretty interesting too. The whole thing opens very cinematically with a lovely … Read more

Mrs Peel with an illuinated mask

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 23 – The House That Jack Built

  John Lennon’s declaration that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” had gone public just the day before The House That Jack Built aired in the UK on 5 March 1966. Not that this episode of The Avengers has anything to do with religion or popular music, or anything like that, but it swims … Read more

Patrick Mower and Patrick Macnee

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 24 – A Sense of History

  Fifty years before a referendum determined that the UK wanted to leave the EU, the subject was tackled in this Avengers episode called A Sense of History. But Martin Woodhouse’s screenplay doesn’t call on Winston Churchill or the Second World War to help invoke British exceptionalism. He goes further back… to Robin Hood and … Read more

John Steed and Emma Peel

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 25 – How to Succeed… at Murder

  Feminist or not feminist? That’s the question that hovers over the whole of How to Succeed… at Murder, a Brian Clemens script for The Avengers that first aired in March 1966.   Secretaries are what it’s all about, trusted right-hand women of busy gammon-faced male business titans, who are all dying in quick succession. Leaving … Read more

Diana Rigg and Ron Moody smoke a hookah

The Avengers: Series 4, Episode 26 – Honey for the Prince

  Mystical, mad and rather weird, Honey for the Prince was the last episode in series four of The Avengers, in terms of both production and transmission, and puts an exclamation mark on what has been an increasingly unreal and self-referential show.   The script is by Brian Clemens, and in very Clemens style he … Read more