Series 1 Live Episodes Were DEFINITELY Recorded There has long been a theory which I've been suspicious of, that the seven Series 1 episodes to be transmitted live - Square Root of Evil, Nightmare, Crescent Moon, Girl on the Trapeze, Diamond Cut Diamond, The Radioactive Man and Ashes of Roses - were never recorded to videotape by ABC. Well, that can be firmly disproved now as a production memo has been discovered which concerns a proposed repeat run of Series 1 episodes. See Avengers 1961 Repeats for further details.
New information has come to light that will firmly disprove the old wives' tale that the handful of Series 1 episodes that went out live were never recorded - namely the seven episodes broadcast between Saturdays 21st January and 4th March 1961 (Square Root of Evil to Ashes of Roses). There is no doubt that these seven episodes were transmitted live - this has been long established and is confirmed by several reliable sources including camera scripts. Several Avengers researchers have suggested that their being live points to them never having been recorded, vanishing off into the ether forever in an instant. This can now be categorically disproved.
A memo from Michael Chapman of Iris Productions Ltd (the production company responsible for The Avengers at ABC) has come to light, dated 30th March 1962. It correctly notes that due to London's late pick-up of The Avengers, nine episodes remained unscreened in the region and suggests that these would make a good 'repeat' season for London and the other regions who came late to the party.
Each of these nine episodes has a VTR code alongside them, meaning that these programmes were definitely recorded and existed in March 1962 on videotape. Surviving camera scripts for Square Root of Evil, Girl on the Trapeze, The Radioactive Man and Ashes of Roses confirm that the live episodes were recorded on videotape from transmission (and the tape numbers tally with those below). Of course, the discovery of a telerecording of Girl on the Trapeze in 2001 had already put the 'never recorded' theory in some considerable doubt.
So now we know. They were out there, recorded on VT and almost definitely on film as telerecordings, too. It's just a case of finding them if they still survive somewhere...
This idea of a repeat run of Series 1 episodes was ultimately abandoned, but the list below is very enticing indeed!
It took place on one of those gloriously sunny afternoons Southern California seems to have a personal patent on, in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (we’d noticed Michael Caine and his wife awaiting their driver as we passed through the courtyard).
Unfortunately, it was a particularly harrowing tyme in his life, as Pat’s daughter had recently had a serious brain operation from which she almost died. Thankfully, such didn’t occur and the gratefully-relieved father was preparing to leave his Palm Springs home to embark on a short tour of “Sleuth” before returning to England to star in a play version of “The Grass is Greener”.
It wasn’t long before the general formalities were dispensed with, and our conversation became incredibly candid and wonderfully forthright; the tension from his daughter’s recent dilemma seemed to have provided him the context (and permission) to say exactly what he thought and precisely how he’d (long) felt about the industry in general – and “The Avengers” specifically.
“I’m just an actor. I’m like somebody who plays Schubert badly, but tries to play it well; wouldn’t even aspire to Mozart. I’m an interpreter, but an interpreter in the best sense in that I’m known throughout the world. I’ve tried to purvey something that’s entertaining. I would like to do something better, yet I do not knock my past or the work I’ve done.
Understand, now, I’ve no ax to grind. I speak from no great height: I just speak as somebody who is still alive - still employed, wishes he could’ve gotten a good deal further, has done something which people remember and, hopefully, will do a lot more.”
“We created something totally new then,” he reflected. “This was all before The Man from Uncle, before James Bond – the films, not the books.
We coped with and accepted eccentricity as a normal part of life,
not as an extreme part. Those were fun.”
“It was reconceived,” he said, “but it just didn’t work. They had a lot of explosions and car chases; they lost all of the humanity, the humor, the subtlety, the satire and the relationships. I was put into a sort of elder statesman attitude, which wasn’t my character at all. It was financed by a Frenchman who, to this day, we still can’t find. The whole of ‘The New Avengers’, I felt, was a fraud. They didn’t understand that, in the ‘70s, you’ve got to be more extreme than in the ‘60s”."
As the afternoon evolved (and we both royally relaxed from the food and libations), Pat became more reflective – and, considering Hollywood’s usual tight-lipped mendacious etiquette, remarkably candid in many areas that wouldn’t normally emerge.
Not surprisingly, he’s wasn't especially impressed by some of the male stars he’s worked with and, on the whole, gave much higher marks to the opposite sex. “I’ve worked with some of the best actresses in the world from Faye Dunaway to Susannah York , and I find the female of the species in our business to be far more professional, far more talented and far more considerate than the males. Why? Because they’ve had to work a great deal harder to get where they are. You get your Jean Stapletons, Bea Arthurs, Angela Lansburys and others – they know what they’re doing and they’ve bothered to learn their craft instead of having contempt for it.”
Not Patrick Magee Department:
After a bit more wine, he then shifted in his seat and started to smile most mischieviously as he related his encounter with
Turns out Pat was getting a haircut one London morning at the height of “The Avengers” success on American soil via the Diana Rigg eps when this gent who could’ve passed for a banker or nondescript businessman walked over behind him.
(As to that, it hadn’t been a particularly good day thus far, and he was uncharacteristically not in his usual optimistic spirits where the inevitable mistaken identity wouldn’t have usually caused his gourd to rise).
“Pardon me, Mister Magee –“ the voice began.
“The name is MACNEE,” came his irritated retort.
“Oh, I’m dreadfully sorry, do forgive me.”
He then turned around to see who it was, and his jaw dropped when he realized who it was. Before he could offer his embarrassed apologies, The Lord of Actors reached over and shook his hand.
“I just wanted to say how very much I enjoy your show, and I think you’re marvelous!”
Not exactly a Knighthood, mayhap, but where rave reviews are concerned, that’s gotta be one of his proudest.
That royal recollection brought forth this:
“An actor needs what a poet needs, what a musician needs, what a painter needs: the ideal actor is someone like Paul Scofield or Olivier, who have the originality of conception.
Acting is very often supposed to be looked on in the same realm as a composer or a painter, which I don’t think we quite are –
we’re nearly that but, without a writer, where would we be?
“If I seem ironic," he mused, “it’s not an irony based on cynicism, but on the fact one has survived.
Yet one survives with an awful lot of arrows being thrown at one: some of which gets bits of one’s flesh
but, fortunately, none of them seems to have actually pierced one’s heart.”
For those that are interested, there will be a 50th anniversary celebration of The Avengers. It will be held on 25th & 26th June at the University of Chichester in the UK.
Hello. This is the first blog for The Avengers Celebration 2011. There is a huge amount of preparation currently going on for what is going to be the most amazing weekend in June 2011 with the biggest line-up of cast and crew since the show ceased production. Let me start by saying a little about who we are and how this all came about.
My name is Dr Adam Locks and I’m a senior lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Chichester. I’m co-organising the celebration with my colleague from Media Production, Michael Holley and Optimum’s DVD producer, Jaz Wiseman. We also have a team of people from the university working with us and I’ll flag them up in later blogs. At this stage, I should add that we have the blessing of Optimum/Studio Canal (who are supplying DVD box sets for weekend prizes) and have many of our screenings provided by both them and the BFI.
The Avengers celebration has emerged from the ‘Dept. of Media Presents’ series based at the university and which we’ve run over the last year and a half. Previous guests have included Star Wars producer Robert Watts, Avengers writer/producer Brian Clemens, former Chair of BAFTA and highly successful TV and film producer Hilary Bevan Jones, and actor Philip Glenister, best known for playing Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, and actor/director David Morrissey who is currently in the detective drama Thorne. These events have been so successful that it inspired us to do something on a bigger scale.
As a child, I grew up watching The New Avengers, but it was only in the 1980s when I saw my first episode of The Avengers (which was being repeated on Channel 4) – ‘The Hour That Never Was’ – that fuzzy nostalgia transformed into total adoration. When Michael and I looked into who was celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary, we were astonished to find out there was very little going on. Yes, there were a few very small fan-based events, but that was it. I spoke to Brian Clemens who liked the idea although initially, it was planned to run the event at Vintage at Goodwood. For a plethora of reasons, this idea was dropped in favour of holding the celebration on the university campus.
For the weekend we’re likely to have around 30 guests from The Avengers and, at present, these include:
•Leonard White (producer series 1 and 2) •Jonathan Alwyn (director on many episodes from series 2 and 3) •Ray Austin (stunt arranger and director on many episodes – series 1 and 4 to 6) •Robert Banks Stewart (writer on series 4) •Richard Bates (script editor on series 2 and 3) •Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale in series 2 and 3) •Howard Blake (composer on series 6) •Jeremy Burnham (actor in 4 episodes and writer of 7 episodes) •John Carson (actor in 4 episodes) •Cyd Child (Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson stunt double – series 5 and 6) •Brian Clemens (writer on many episodes from series 1 to 6 and producer on series 4 to 6) •Jennifer Croxton (Diana Forbes-Blakeney in series 6) •Peter J Elliott (stuntman/actor in many episodes) •Robert Fuest (director on series 6) •Gerry O’Hara (director on many episodes from series 4) •Richard Harris (writer on series 1,5 and 6) •John Hough (director on series 6) •Don Leaver (director on many episodes from series 1 to 4) •Roger Marshall (writer on many episodes from series 2 to 5) •Jon Rollason (Dr Martin King in series 2 – 3 episodes) •Julie Stevens (Venus Smith in series 2 – 6 episodes) •Linda Thorson (Tara King in series 6) •Anneke Wills (actor in 2 episodes) •Martin Woodhouse (writer on many episodes from series 2 to 4) If that seems exciting, then I should add that there will also be a very special video message from Patrick Macnee and a newly filmed interview with Laurie Johnson at his home. The weekend will be split into two sections: the video tape era and the filmed series. Within this there will be numerous one to one and group interviews conducted by myself, Michael, Jaz, Henry Holland, Dick Fiddy, Marcus Hearn, and Chris Bentley. We also have Paul O’Grady (a huge Avengers fan) who will be conducting the interview with Linda Thorson and acting as guest host for the event. There are also to be screenings with ‘live’ commentaries; panels analyzing aspects of The Avengers; a Hellfire Club disco on Saturday night; signings and much much more.
Ticket prices will be announced in January. There will be limited accommodation available on the university campus, but I’ll also provide information on hotels and BBs early next year.