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Trivia / The Avengers (1960s)

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  • 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.
    • It's rumored that Joanna Lumley suggested Purdey's name for The New Avengers. She was originally called Charly but had to be changed when they discovered a perfume with the same name. Purdey was named after the most expensive shotgun in the world.
    • Lumley had long hair on her first promo stills for The New Avengers. On the first day of filming, she surprised the producers and crew by coming up with a bob, which would remain Purdey's trademark hairstyle.
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  • Actor-Shared Background: Steed is a veteran of World War II, and so was Patrick Macnee.
  • Acting for Two: Various Doppelgänger stories. Likewise Patrick Macnee played Emma Peel's husband from afar in her final episode.
  • Banned Episode: The New Avengers episode "Gladiators" was banned in some parts of Britain due to excessive violence. In London it did not premiere until nine months after "Emily," and even then it aired at 11:25 PM.
  • 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.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • In France, the show was titled Chapeau Melon et Bottes de Cuir (Bowler Hat and Leather Boots).
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    • 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 Backlash: For the last four episodes of The New Avengers, they had to film in Canada. Brian Clements - who didn't even go there - called those the worst of the series.
    I felt... I was being badly used. I wish I hadn't done it now. I don't like The New Avengers. I think it was bad and ordinary and unimaginative and not interesting.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode:
    • Patrick Macnee cited "Death at Bargain Prices" and "Too Many Christmas Trees" among his favourite episodes.
    • Linda Thorson named "Pandora" as her favourite episode.
  • The Danza: Mother's mute aid Rhonda was played by Australian actress Rhonda Parker.
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  • Dyeing for Your Art: Linda Thorson was requested 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.
    • For The New Avengers the French financers kept demanding a sexier Purdey. Joanna Lumley remained as the character, but was given a sexier Frenchi wardrobe as a result.
  • Fake Brit: Linda Thorson (Tara King) was actually Canadian.
  • International Co Production: The New Avengers was joint United Kingdom-France-Canada production.
  • Looping Lines: When the series switched from videotape to film in season 4, and Emma Peel became Gascoyne Beresford, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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," and "The £50,000 Breakfast" is a remake of "Death Of A Great Dane."
    • Likewise The New Avengers episode "Complex" is essentially a remake of the original series episode "Killer". Meanwhile, "Medium Rare" was based on the episode Thriller episode "Murder in Mind", while "Gnaws" is a reworking of the Thunderbirds episode "Attack of the Alligators".
  • 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".
  • Star-Making Role: Most notably for Diana Rigg.
  • 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 attempts 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 replaced with Diana Rigg.
    • 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.
    • After The New Avengers was cancelled, an American version of the series was proposed. They shot a pilot called Escapade but it was never picked up. Morgan Fairchild and Granville Van Dusen were to play the Purdy and Steed counterparts.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • A number of guest actors (usually villains) came back to play different roles. Julian Glover really took the cake, with four appearances, each one of them in a different role.
    • Ian Hendry, who had played Steed's initial partner Dr. David Keel, reappeared in The New Avengers as a different character, Irwin Gunner.

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