Friends, when it comes to classic British television that I regularly turn to when I want to be entertained, I go with either The Prisoner, Doctor Who, or The Avengers. Much like with The Prisoner, that science fiction/spy series starring the legendary Patrick McGoohan, my Father regaled me with stories about John Steed, the ultimate gentleman secret agent, and his fetching companion and fellow adventurer Emma Peel. Long before I was able to actually catch an episode of the series for myself, I was already a fan of both Patrick Macnee as well as the still charming Diana Rigg – in fact the first role I saw of Macnee was thanks to 1981’s The Howling.
It wouldn’t be until I was nearly a young adult before I was able to catch The Avengers – thanks to reruns on the A & E channel. I was quite surprised to find out that Emma Peel wasn’t the first or last to partner up with John Steed – although it wasn’t until even later that I learned that in the first season of The Avengers it was John Steed who acted as sidekick to Doctor David Keel (Ian Hendry). Hendry who might be best known for his roles in such horror films as Children of the Damned, Tales from the Crypt, and Theatre of Blood – left the series during a strike to focus on his film career. I am sad to say that like some episodes of Doctor Who and other early British series such as Ace of Wands – only three complete episodes are known to have survived from the first season of The Avengers, as it was common to reuse the video tapes the shows were filmed on.
The Avengers lasted for six seasons and 161 episodes before the series wrapped up, although two seasons of The New Avengers debuted in ’76 – to say nothing of the novels, comic books, a stage play, and even a radio series that helped to keep the show fresh in people’s minds. Which might explain why in 1986, The Pretenders filmed a music video for their hit song “Don’t Get Me Wrong “- that acted as a tribute to The Avengers – including footage of Patrick Macnee as John Steed!
Even more interesting than The Pretenders making a music video paying respect to The Avengers – is Chrissie Hynde revealed a couple of years ago that the song was written for her friend, John McEnroe!