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THE AVENGERS: A CELEBRATION

An exclusive preview of the new photography book, Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century, by Carl Schoonover; Foreword by Jonah Lehrer. Published by AbramsPosted by Mark Frauenfelder

Click the thumbnails above to see images and captions. Imagery copyright © 2010 CANAL+ Image UK Ltd. All rights reserved

THE AVENGERS: A CELEBRATION Fifty years ago, production began on The Avengers, a TV series that has yet to be rivaled for its wit, adventure and sheer style. Urbane agent John Steed (Patrick Macnee) fought diabolical masterminds with a succession of impossibly cool female partners. These included Cathy Gale (played by Honor Blackman), Tara King (Linda Thorson) and of course the iconic Mrs Peel played by Diana Rigg. The show quickly became a worldwide sensation syndicated to 90 countries, including the US, where it was a prime time hit.

Compiled with unprecedented access to the show's official archive, The Avengers: A Celebration (Titan) is a glorious visual tribute to mark the 50th anniversary of the show that defined 60s television. Written by Marcus Hearn (Hammer Glamour, The Hammer Story), with a foreword by the legendary Patrick Macnee, this stunning, large-format hardback is packed with newly discovered photographs and exclusive memories from the cast and crew.

Diana Rigg surprises her co-star during rehearsals on the set of Henry and Henrietta Throgbottom's keep fit class in "How to Succeed...at Murder"

The Avengers: A Celebration, by Marcus Hearn, with a foreword by Patrick Macnee.

Diana Rigg designed her own costume as the Queen of Sin (in the episode "A Touch of Brimstone"). She was less comfortable with the snake, which spent a day draped over her wrist.

The Avengers: A Celebration, by Marcus Hearn, with a foreword by Patrick Macnee.

Guest star Liz Fraser poses with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg outside Mrs Peel's giant cage in "The Girl from Auntie."

The Avengers: A Celebration, by Marcus Hearn, with a foreword by Patrick Macnee.

Mrs Peel tackles Major Robertson's potentially lethal initiation test in "The Danger Makers."

The Avengers: A Celebration, by Marcus Hearn, with a foreword by Patrick Macnee.

A tiny Steed clambers out of a miniaturized Saracen armored car and hides on Shaffer's desk in "Mission...Highly Improbably." When Shaffer has left the room, Steed calls Mrs Peel on a relatively giant telephone. "What's happened to you?" she asks. "If I told you, you wouldn't believe it," he replies.

The Avengers: A Celebration, by Marcus Hearn, with a foreword by Patrick Macnee.

A publicity shot - unusually showing Patrick Macnee holding a gun - taken on the set of "Death of a Batman" in August 1963. The studio floor is covered in anticipation of an impending rain shower.

The Avengers: A Celebration, by Marcus Hearn, with a foreword by Patrick Macnee.

"Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Cathy Gale is her relationship with Steed," Honor Blackman told The Daily Mail in January 1964. "Steed and Cathy Gale are not lovers. They are close, working friends. I see Pat every day, and our friendship is more successful than it could possibly be if we were having a love affair in private life."

The Avengers: A Celebration, by Marcus Hearn, with a foreword by Patrick Macnee.

Photo from the pre-title sequence specially filmed to introduce American audiences to The Avengers.

The Avengers: A Celebration, by Marcus Hearn, with a foreword by Patrick Macnee.

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28 Responses to “The Avengers: A Celebration -- photo gallery”

  1. MarkM says:

    Was just watching “The Correct Way to Kill” episode,
    and love the line Steed gives when confronted by a Russian
    agent who’s accused him of bumping off a comrade:
    [indignantly] “I haven’t killed anyone all week!”

  2. Scurra says:

    Like “The Prisoner”, it encapsulated an entire era and yet hasn’t dated because it’s clearly existing in a fantasy universe.
    Pretty much every episode has at least one seriously great idea somewhere in it, and often several – there are few shows that are willing to waste brilliancy on throw-away gags. One of the great pieces of television.

    (And, whisper it quietly, but that 90s movie version was surprisingly true to the source, although, ultimately, that was its downfall as well.)

  3. rickyjames says:

    Count me in as an original Emma Peel fanboy, too. I was even more fond of her than Lee Meriwether’s Catwoman, another ABC icon of the mid-1960s era. Emma was smart and wore that comfortably, by far her sexiest feature.

    • Anonymous says:

      You were around for ABC’s original franchise… did they always use the 2-part string thing – eargasm march/ABC shield exploding startup? Have you, for the love of god, somehow managed to record it on a CV-era videotape or clear tape? Absolutely no filmed record of it exists – all I’ve seen is rather fuzzy audio (recreation at http://www.transdiffusion.org/tmc/abc/presentation/northstartup.php).

      It might sound rather desperate but I’ve been around to the BFI to see the early ITV archives and horrors of horrors – they’d junked all their film!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I hope it leaves out any traces of that crappy 1998 Avengers movie.

  5. Rigged says:

    Straight and ever inspired here. The writing was great but Diana Rigg played it so brilliantly. Smart yes, but sly and sweet and deadly, hahah. Steed ever adorable, Wardrobe brrrrilliant!! So daring! That low low belt circle blew my young mind. Wow. Coooool. Nothing but great style and great surrealist inspired Brit action. Loved that part of it too. Poetic enigmatic puzzles like cartoons in high Brit style. Awesome. The movie was unfortunately so serious and failed for it’s misunderstanding of the playful magic of the original, so convivial, so very friendly. hahah.

  6. thunderboomer88 says:

    Excellent! I’m in. I was around 15 when The Avengers first aired on US TV. I went nuts over it. I had the Corgi set of Avengers cars; also wrote a fan letter to Diana Rigg…and she replied! I have Mcnee’s first book on the show (autographed). This series needs to be on Blu-ray. I think some of it has been released in region 2, but the vast US audience needs this. I have the entire DVD set and will happily upgrade. The once impressive “remasters” are looking their age. BRAVO on the new book!
    “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed!”

  7. freddy nono says:

    totally awesome.

    That and The Prisoner.

  8. MrsBug says:

    Be still my beating heart! I started watching these on A&E back in the mid-90s when they were replaying them. Quickly fell in love with the whole shebang.

  9. Anonymous says:

    never saw the draw of it… perhaps being a straight female has some not insignificant part to play in that opinion. also thought it always felt too forced/corny/over-the-top. but to each their own.

    me, i’d rather watch the prisoner.

  10. frankieboy says:

    Totally had a huge crush on Emma Peel, I thought she was perfect. Beautiful, smart, funny, adventurous, a hint of kink. She was perfect!

  11. Anonymous says:

    It wasn’t just the boys who had major crushes on Emma Peel.

  12. paigecm says:

    When I discovered the Avengers in my early 20s, it took no time at all to become a major Mrs. Peel fangirl, just because her brand of sexiness was much more about smiling and calm capability than it was about sultry pouting.

    (I know, I know, the leather catsuit…but for me, a huge part of her appeal was that in other ways, she made sexy feel like something natural.) Not coincidentally, the ’98 film was a flop for me largely because Uma Thurman’s Mrs. Peel was all pouty sullenness.

    • Swizzlebat says:

      Well yeah, not just the leather catsuit, but the cool, brainy, and self-assured woman walking around in it… What’s more sexy than smarts?

  13. bshock says:

    I too had a major crush on Diana Rigg as Emma Peel.

    Of course, the big problem with having a thing for an amazing female character like that is how it can make you look at other women forever afterwards. I wish I was at least half the man who’d deserve being with an Emma Peel :-)

  14. Scarlet Farts On Her Bible says:

    Diana Rigg – beautiful, intelligent and sexy.

    Check out this photo of her: http://media.photobucket.com/image/emma%20peel/swamps_photo/queenofsin.jpg?o=33

    Does anyone know the name of the Avengers episode in which Diana Rigg wore this attire?

  15. Scarlet Farts On Her Bible says:

    S’alright folks. I managed to get the episode title from the thumbnail at the top of the page. Sleepless nights are over.

  16. Jack says:

    What kind of app is Steed booting up on that phone’s hard drive?

    Also the movie bombed because it missed the point of the original show characterizations and created a stupid action film instead.

  17. Swizzlebat says:

    As the previous (and possibly subsequent) comments will show, if you were a (certain kind of) boy growing up anywhere near the 60s, you practically had to stand in line to have a crush on Diana Rigg as Emma Peel. That leather catsuit! It impressed me deeply.
    Later, though, it didn’t surprise me to learn that Diana Rigg hated wearing that thing, and ditched it after her first season–a small victory for her in a show where, at one point, she was making less per episode than the cameraman.
    Ah, but that’s all secondary when you’re watching one of the episodes, many of which still hold up surprisingly well today, despite the poverty budgets they were made on.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I may have to get this book; I love the 60’s Avengers. I think it’s almost time for my semi-regular Avengers-thon (done every 2-3 years) although I don’t have all of the Honor Blackman DVDs. Ha ha…I wanted to be just like Emma Peel when I grew up.

  19. Diamond Jim says:

    I need this book NOW. I’m coming in late to the chorus, but the comments so far prove what I have always maintained: Emma Peel was everybody’s first crush if they saw the show at the right time in thier lives (and yes, I do mean puberty). If they tell you otherwise, they’re lying.

    And don’t imagine I’m anything other than objective simply because I have four different Emma Peel t-shirts.

    thunderboomer8, I also have Patrick Macnee’s book, autographed. I was walking past Forbidden Planet on Braodway one afternoon, didn’t even know that he was signing, but how could I resist? He was every bit as gracious as you’d expect.

  20. fxq says:

    Named my dog Emma Peel in 1966. She was much more successful than the four previous “Lassies”.

  21. Vanwall says:

    Yes! “A Touch of Brimstone”! Yay!

    (I can’t look at those pics without the theme running in my head.)

  22. technogeek says:

    Personal favorite: “And He Built A Crooked House”.

    Ah, for the days when agents — and television — had style…

  23. Antinous / Moderator says:

    If BB ever gets around to building an undersea lair, we should ask Ms. Rigg to record our outgoing voicemail message.

  24. Anonymous says:

    One of my favorite classic shows. Hulu had it on for a while, but they took it off :o(

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