The Avengers 1961-1969

Steed and Peel in fancy dress

Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry

The Avengers Series 1

The key British TV series of the 1960s starts here in 1961… looking like something out of the 1950s. That’s Ian Hendry on the right, the star of the show, as Dr David Keel, the grieving widower seeking to “avenge” the death of his wife. Enter shadowy John Steed (Patrick Macnee, left), a man with a plan.

Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman publicity shot

The Avengers Series 2

Exit Ian Hendry, enter Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, just one of a handful of amateur operators recruited by Steed to do work that’s increasingly espionage oriented. Neither Blackman nor Steed’s brolly and bowler hat were a fixture, but the pieces are all falling into place and James Bond’s influence is everywhere.

Honor Blackman and John Le Mesurier

The Avengers Series 3

Cult status is assured. The single Kinky Boots is released during the show’s third series in 1963-64 and Honor Blackman is eventually lured away to play Pussy Galore with 007. The perfect balance of jokes and spycraft mean that some of the best episodes ever made appear in this run.

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

The Avengers Series 4

Exit Honor Blackman, enter Diana Rigg for the first series shot on film. It’s still in black and white but the extra money flowing in from the US – first British TV show to go primetime – means The Avengers can shoot on location and let the creative imagination run free.

Emma Peel rests her chin on John Steed's shoulder

The Avengers Series 5

In colour, for many this is the classic series of The Avengers. Sexy, camp, knowingly ridiculous at times. The US TV series Batman provides a lot of the inspiration, in various ways. In the wings 007 was waiting again. This time he’d come for Diana Rigg.

Steed and King in fetching hats

The Avengers Series 6

Up against the impossible-to-beat Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In on US TV and taking a pounding in the ratings, The Avengers changed tack and co-star. Linda Thorson arrives to play Tara King, and is messed about abominably as the series lurches to a close. Though she (and it) manage some classic episodes on the way out.

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