Following our recent retrospective of The Avengers, I thought to myself “Why can’t I be more like Emma Peel?”
Now that I’ve realised I really don’t have the hips for crimpolene, I refocused myself to give you the rundown on seven of the best episodes…
1.16: ‘The Frighteners’
One of the few existing Season 1 episodes, and the only one to feature both Dr David Keel and John Steed, this ep is a treat.
Diabolical mastermind The Deacon (operating from the backroom of a delicatessen) runs a business ‘massaging’ clients- that is, beating them into submission to warn them away from wealthy businessmen. Steed and the good Doctor manage to take down the operation – but was the target as innocent as he appears?
2.10: ‘The Mauritius Penny’
Steed and Cathy Gale investigate the world of philately when a priceless stamp turns up in an ordinary store. With the owner dead, the trail leads them to a deadly auction house, a defecting dentist, and finally an attempt to develop a neo-fascist British state!
An early example of everyday settings given an eccentric twist, with Steed’s long-suffering charwoman a particular highlight.
3.03: ‘The Nutshell’
Possibly the most ambitious story of the videotaped era (a time when episodes were made as live) sees Steed and Cathy investigate the theft of document which could blow to cover of every double agent in Britain, Europe and North America.
Given that the theft takes place several miles underground, an inside job seems likely, with the suspect list going right to the top. When Cathy discovers Steed has met with the catburglar responsible, she decide whether the strain of espionage means he’s turned traitor…
4.13: ‘The Hour That Never Was’
Season 4 saw the move to film, broadcasts in America, and the rise of Emma Peel. She and Steed wake from a car crash and find the air base they were heading for abandoned. They are knocked out in short order- only for Steed to awake at the crash site again, and find the air base celebrating their imminent decommissioning.
Where is Mrs Peel? What happened in the hour Steed can’t remember? Why is there a constant sound of drilling?
5.16: ‘Who’s Who???’
This hilarious body-swapping episode sees spy couple from the ‘other side’, Basil and Lola, trade minds with Steed and Mrs Peel. The enemy objective – to wipe out the top agents of Major Bee’s floral network.
With the flowers being cut down in their prime, will Bee ever believe that his enemies are really our heroes? If you’re not confused yet, just wait until Basil and Lola they’ve left Steed and Emma a vital clue to their salvation…
6.25: ‘Stay Tuned’
Tara King’s episodes are often accused of being too lightweight, but this instalment bucks more than just this perception. Steed prepares for his holiday – only for Tara to welcome him home. He’s forgotten three weeks of travelling, but there is a wealth of evidence he was driving across Europe for much of this time.
Only one woman can validate Steed’s story – leading him to a hypnotist who has never met the woman. Could it be Steed has been brainwashed? If so, why go to all this trouble to make him forget his holiday?
The New Avengers 1.1: ‘The Eagle’s Nest’
Troubled follow-up series The New Avengers started with this dynamic adventure. From Nazi monks with poison fishing hooks to an abduction from the third floor of a country house, the series premiere brings the show bang up to date.
The triumvirate relationship is a worthy successor to the original dynamic duos, with Steed, Purdey and Gambit fighting off the evils of the past in style. It was a bit too good to last though…
What’s your favourite episode of The Avengers? Let us know below…