I am pleased to report that THXJay and The Crime Lounge are back after a short hiatus – his hard-drive went down. But now the site is up and running again with a new Widescreen look.
The Avengers is one of the most fondly thought of Cult TV shows of all time. It one of the slickest British productions ever made, which is a testimony to the fantastic acting talent and production crew.
It started life as a kind of spin off to the early 60’s drama Police Surgeon, which starred Ian Hendry as Dr Geoffrey Brent a London doctor who also works as a police surgeon. Although audiences responded positively to Hendry, the series itself did not prove to be particularly popular, and so ABC decided to cancel it after twelve episodes. However, Director of Drama Sydney Newman stepped in and gave Police Surgeon a new lease on life. Hot to capitalize on Hendry’s star potential, he added a co-star, Patrick Macnee and Dr. Geoffrey Brent became Dr. David Keel. In the opening episode, Keel’s wife has been murdered. He soon joined by government agent John Steed (Macnee) to Avenge her death.
Hendry decided not to continue after the first season and top billing was passed to Macnee who was assisted by number of companions in the second season. By the third season the studio settled with the judo kicking Cathy Gale played by Honnor Blackman as Steed’s partner.But Blackman left the show at the end of the season to play Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. Diana Rigg then joined the show as Emma Peel for two seasons, then Linda Thorson was Tara King for a season and then finally by Gareth Hunt and Joanna Lumley were Gambit and Purdey in 70’s update ‘The New Avengers’.
Although the show stated out as a gritty crime thriller it was not long before it evolved into a surreal, stylish action adventure series that is still loved the world over. Cult TV at it’s very best.
The New Avengers was a sequel series to The Avengers that was made some seven years after the original series. The line-up changed slightly in that an additional male character, Mike Gambit, was added to the old formula of John Steed and his glamorous female sidekick, in this case Purdey. The format of spy stories with only a passing acquaintance with realism remained unchanged from the original series.
The New Avengers only actually ran for two seasons, producing a total of twenty-six episodes, seven of which were made with overseas finance. This lead to three of the episodes being based in France, and four of them in Canada.
This series chronicled the lives of Bodie and Doyle, top agents for Britain’s CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5), and their controller, George Cowley. The mandate of CI5 was to fight terrorism and similar high-profile crimes. Cowley, a hard ex-MI5 operative, hand-picked each of his men. Bodie was a cynical ex-SAS paratrooper and mercenary whose nature ran to controlled violence, while his partner, Doyle, came to CI5 from the regular police force, and was more of an open minded liberal. Their relationship was often contentious, but they were the top men in their field, and the ones to whom Cowley always assigned to the toughest cases.