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Trivia / The Avengers (1960s)

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  • Acting for Two: Various Doppelgänger stories. Likewise Patrick Macnee played Emma Peel's husband from afar in her final episode.
  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • Patrick Macnee came up with Steed's umbrella sword. He objected to Steed using a gun, as it reminded him of his military tenure. During the budget-strained first season, Macnee supplemented his on-screen wardrobe with numerous items from his own wardrobe, including the bowler and umbrella.
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    • Linda Thorson came up with her own character name: Tara from her favorite film at the time, Gone with the Wind (the name of the estate), and King for "King and country."
  • Actor-Shared Background: Patrick Macnee had a lot in common with John Steed. They both went to Eton, only to be expelled, and both served in World War II.
  • Alan Smithee: "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Station" gives script credit to "Brian Sheriff," alias Brian Clemens and Roger Marshall (when Marshall left the series due to Creative Differences with Clemens, he rewrote Marshall's script — the pen-name indicates the sheriff doing the marshal's job).
  • Blooper: Since the first three seasons were shot live on videotape, there was no provision for correcting errors. Frequently, the actors would flub lines, props would not work, a moving camera would run into a prop, boom microphones would wind up in a shot, etc. Only after the series went to film during the Emma Peel era were the bloopers drastically reduced.
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  • Cast the Runner-Up: Fenella Fielding made occasional guest appearances after being passed over for Cathy Gale in favour of Honor Blackman.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • In France, the show was titled Chapeau Melon et Bottes de Cuir (Bowler Hat and Leather Boots).
    • The German title translated as "With Umbrella, Charm and Bowler". That hat must REALLY have made an impression.
    • As noted, American-published comic-book version of the series needed to be retitled John Steed Emma Peel or Steed and Mrs. Peel, because the title The Avengers is already taken for Marvel's superhero comic. Turnabout is fair play, however: The Avengers (the one based on the Marvel title) had to carry the title Avengers Assemble in the UK because of the TV series.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode:
    • Patrick Macnee cited "Death at Bargain Prices" and "Too Many Christmas Trees" among his favourite episodes.
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    • Linda Thorson named "Pandora" as her favourite episode.
  • The Danza: Mother's mute aid Rhonda was played by Australian actress Rhonda Parker.
  • Darkhorse Casting: Linda Thorson had never stepped in front of camera before when she was cast in the final season.
  • Dawson Casting: Cathy Gale states in "Warlock" that she was born in 1930. Honor Blackman was born in 1925.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Linda Thorson was asked to bleach her hair blonde to distinguish Tara King from Emma Peel. The process ruined her hair and she had to wear a wig for several episodes.
  • Executive Meddling: During the sixth season, the network wanted to bring the show "back to realism" and tried to recreate the style of the Cathy Gale episodes. Brian Clements was initially fired and then brought back to salvage the season.
  • Fake Brit: Linda Thorson (Tara King) was actually Canadian.
  • Fan Community Nickname: Fans of John Steed sometimes call themselves "Steedophiles".
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Some of Steed and Peel's clever banter was written by Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, who virtually invented their characters themselves, since the producers were—almost literally—making things up as they went along. Indeed, one of Macnee's favorite recollections is of an early script that said, "Steed stands there." But the director demanded he do something more than that.
  • Hostility on the Set: While she got on well with Macnee, Rigg evidently didn't have a very enjoyable time on the show, which likely led to her leaving after only two seasons. One of her complaints was the pay disparity between her and Macnee (she initially was getting paid less than the show's camerman); she has commented that her demanding more equality resulted her being slagged in the press at the time.
  • Late Export for You: The Cathy Gale episodes were not seen in the U.S. until 1991 when A&E ran them on cable, and so very few Americans are familiar with them.
  • Looping Lines: When the series switched from videotape to film in season 4, and Emma Peel became Steed's new partner in crime, the show's shooting became more flexible: For on-location scenes outdoors, they would be shot mute, with the dialogue being rerecorded by the original actors in post-production (as was the norm for British television at the time).
  • Missing Episode:
    • Most of the first season is considered lost, but these are now being remade as audio plays by Big Finish.
    • The episode "A Touch of Brimstone" was initially "banned" by the ABC network in the US, although it was merely one of five monochrome Emma Peel episodes the network never aired — the broadcast schedule for these episodes only lasted 21 weeks, so five of the set of 26 never made it on; all five later aired in syndicated reruns in the US. Even in the UK, the most censor-troubling scene in "Brimstone", of a man attacking fetish-leather-clad Emma with a whip, was shortened; and various rerun syndications shortened it to varying greater degrees. Not until DVD release was the full-length version of the scene presented.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Diana Rigg discovered that she was being paid less than the cameraman, and demanded a raise that would give her a closer amount as Patrick Macnee. As the show was popular in the US, she was granted this.
  • No Export for You: The American broadcasts of the first Emma Peel season featured a unique opening sequence (called the "chessboard opening") to explain the concept of the show to US viewers. Notable for providing a bit of leather catsuited Ms. Fanservice of Mrs. Peel, British fans clamored to see the opening for years, but never got a chance to see it until it was included on a DVD release relatively recently. American fans, meanwhile, were disappointed when the 1990s DVD release of the series omitted the opening because it originated from the UK masters.
  • The Other Marty: Elizabeth Shepherd was cast as Emma Peel but was replaced with Diana Rigg halfway through filming her first episode.
  • Out of Order: The season two episode "Warlock" was planned to be Cathy's premiere, but the producers had to re-write her introduction to Steed when the broadcast order was jumbled and ten other episodes ran first.
  • The Pete Best: Ian Hendry was the star during the first season, but left to pursue a film career before the series became popular.
  • Popularity Redo: When the show's market expanded to the US (it was previously an exclusively British show), many UK-only-era episodes were redone.
  • Real-Life Relative: Patrick Macnee's second wife Catherine Woodville played Dr. David Keel's ill-fated fiance in the first episode "Hot Snow".
  • Real Life Writes the Hairstyle: In some episodes of Season 6, Tara King's hair is very short. This is because when Linda Thorson joined the show, they wanted her to bleach her hair blonde. The dye ruined her hair, so in some episodes she was wearing a wig. The short hair was Linda's growing back.
  • Recycled Script: Several scripts from the Cathy Gale period were remade as Emma Peel stories after the series took off in America. For example, "The Joker" is a creepier version of the Gale story "Don't Look Behind You," "The £50,000 Breakfast" is a remake of "Death Of A Great Dane" and "The Superlative Seven" was a remake of "Dressed to Kill".
  • Shrug of God: Steed and Mrs Peel — are they or aren't they? Since they would never have been permitted to address the question explicitly on-screen, it was deliberately left ambiguous. An interviewer once asked Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg, and the series' head writer what was really going on with Steed and Mrs Peel, and got three different and mutually-exclusive answers. General consensus in later years was that they had a casual sexual relationship but "didn't dwell on it".
  • Similarly Named Works: Thanks to the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most people will be more likely to refer to that universe's Super Team and their movies and/or to the comic books that inspired it when talking about "The Avengers".
  • Star-Making Role: Most notably for Diana Rigg.
  • Stunt Double: Cyd Child douled for both Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson.
  • Troubled Production: The sixth season. After Diana Rigg announced she was leaving, searches were held to find a replacement actress - including toying with the idea of a number of guest actresses. Patrick Macnee was apparently not aware this was going on at first. Linda Thorson was chosen as she was dating producer John Bryce - who was brought in to replace Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell. This change was because the studio wished to bring the show "back to realism" and Bryce had produced the Cathy Gale episodes. He also had to hurriedly shoot seven episodes to ship off to America with the last of the Emma Peel episodes. He only completed three before he was replaced by Clemens and Fennell again. Rigg also had to be brought back to hurriedly shoot a new introduction episode for Tara King. What's more is that the network in America aired the show up against Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, one of the most popular shows in the country at the time. Due to declining ratings it was almost immediately cancelled.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: This is the sort of TV show that could only exist in the 60s - where James Bond had just taken off and spies were cool. Second wave feminism was in, resulting in sexy Action Girls like Cathy Gale, Emma Peel and Tara King. The hairstyles and fashions of the female characters scream 1960s, particularly Emma's Spy Catsuit. The show's tongue-in-cheek, Narm Charm tone was so heavily a product of the 60s that the attempt to revive the series in the 70s failed - as did a film adaptation in 1998.
  • Wag the Director:
    • Diana Rigg found Emma Peel's initial Spy Catsuits too uncomfortable, resulting in the softer wear in the fifth season.
    • After going through the motions for the first few episodes, Ian Hendry realized the potential for career development and began fleshing out his character in earnest. It is said he would sometimes throw out whole scripts and force writers into eleventh-hour rewrites.
    • Macnee and Rigg came up with a lot of their own dialogue, thinking the original scripts were substandard.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • A film version of the series was in its initial planning stages by late 1963 after series three was completed. An early story proposal paired Steed and Gale with a male and female duo of American agents, to make the movie appeal to the American market. Before the project could gain momentum Honor Blackman was cast in Goldfinger, requiring her to leave the series.
    • One American producer suggested adapting the series into a Broadway musical.
    • Cathy Gale's replacement was originally going to be called 'Manda Peel' because the character needed to have "man appeal". They shortened it to M Appeal, and went with Emma Peel instead. Eleanor Bron was the first choice, but she turned it down. As noted above Elizabeth Shepherd was initially cast, but ultimately replaced with Diana Rigg.
    • There were a number of options for Cathy's exit, including having her Killed Off for Real.
    • After Diana Rigg left the series, the producers toyed with the idea of having guest actresses be Steed's sidekick. A number of screen tests were done in secret.
    • Shirley Eaton tested for Emma Peel.
  • Word of God: Brian Clemens noted in an interview the sexual chemistry that particularly existed between Steed and Peel, and the common question of "Will they ever go to bed together?" Clemens' attitude toward the characters was that they already had done, and this was the next day. Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg confirmed later, in interviews, that they had decided their characters had a casual sexual relationship, "but just didn't dwell on it."
  • You Look Familiar: A number of guest actors (usually villains) came back to play different roles in the series. Among the most well known, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, John Hollis and Julian Glover. Hollis and Glover really took the cake, with four appearances each, and each one of said appearances in a different role.

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