The Avengers: Series 2, Episode 6 – The Removal Men

Edina Ronay and Douglas Muir

  Heady Europeanism, alcohol, jazz music and sexual licence are the watchwords of The Removal Men, number six in the second series. And Julie Stevens, appropriately, returns as Steed’s helpmeet in an episode set on the French Riviera, where a Bardot-like sexy French actress (played to the hilt by Edina Ronay, who went on to become a designer) needs protection from some thugs who want to kill her because of her outspoken political views on some far flung colony. Don Leaver is in the director’s chair, and there are hints of The Third Man in his use of close-ups (which he’s always used to great effect), a mood compounded by the jaunty mitteleuropean … Read more

The Avengers: Series 2, Episode 5 – Mission to Montreal

John Steed and Dr King

  Mixing it up yet again, episode five of series two – Mission to Montreal – introduces yet another sidekick in a story set on board a cruise liner heading for Canada. Jon Rollason plays Dr Martin King and brings the number of Steed’s accomplices in this series to three (Honor Blackman and Julie Stevens being the other two). King is an echo of Ian Hendry’s Dr David Keel in that he’s a doctor, and also one only too happy to indulge in a bit of espionage and rough stuff if necessary – not exactly what you’d expect from a well paid follower of Hippocrates, but there you go. In fact he’s more … Read more

The Avengers: Series 2, Episode 4 – Bullseye

Steed and Gale

  Like one of those arcane “tontine plots”, the fourth episode of series two offers us a scenario where a string of people die so somebody in the same eco-system can ultimately benefit. Julie Stevens womanfully did sidekick duty in the last episode, but Honor Blackman’s Cathy Gale returns this time round to help Steed unravel another mystery that yet again seems to be more a matter for the police than any covert organisation – an arms company resisting a takeover bid by pushy johnny-come-lately Henry Cade (Ronald Radd) finds its board members dying one after the other. Is Cade – already painted as the unacceptable face of capitalism (as if being in … Read more

The Avengers: Series 2, Episode 3 – The Decapod

Venus Smith sings

Just when you thought it was Steed and Gale, Macnee and Blackman, along pops Julie Stevens (later in the decade a regular on the children’s TV show Playaway) as a sidekick in the third episode of series two. What’s afoot? Clearly there were worries behind the scenes before the series got underway and, having lost their big star in Ian Hendry, a double whammy of Macnee and Blackman not quite taking with the viewing public was insured against by drafting in ancillary aid Stevens. As Venus Smith, she plays a nightclub singer helping Steed get to the bottom of a murder after a pretty girl is murdered inside the “Balkan Embassy”. Cypriot, 1960s/70s … Read more

The Avengers: Series 2, Episode 2 – Propellant 23

Gale and Steed

  Set mostly in the airport at Marseille (a studio just to the north of London, apparently), this tight and fast episode gets underway with a passenger on a plane arriving from Tripoli getting very distraught and claiming he’s about to die. Without giving too much away, he does die, gratifyingly for the foreign spies who are after a flask of a highly volatile rocket fuel, Propellant 23. Unfortunately for them, the flask gets lost in the shuffle. Has it fallen down the back of a seat, been taken home by a light-fingered airport luggage worker, been drunk by the hotel barker who touts for business in the arrivals lounge, or been whisked … Read more

The Avengers: Series 2, Episode 1 – Mr Teddy Bear

John Steed and Cathy Gale

Ian Hendry has left, Patrick Macnee has been bumped up to star and Honor Blackman has been drafted in as a sidekick who’s not just a pretty face. But there’s more than just those cosmetic differences – if they are just that – going on. In the opener for series two, it’s clear things have gone just a tiny bit self-referential too and that The Avengers is beginning to push against not just the envelope of its own founding principles, but also against those of television. The self-referentiality comes in the opening scene, set in a TV studio where a notable traveller and writer is about to be interviewed in some highbrow arts show … Read more