Behind the Scenes: Dr David Keel Era
Page 1 of 9

The year was 1960. Howard Thomas, Managing Director of the Associated British Corporation, suggested to Sydney Newman, Director of Drama, that ABC's dramatic lineup might be better balanced with the addition of lighter fare, such as a thriller. This got Sydney thinking about a new television program formula: A mix of tongue-in-cheek humor and espionage thrills. READ MORE

Meanwhile, Leonard White was having a bit of trouble with a show he was co-producing, Police Surgeon. Although its lead—the late Ian Hendry in his first starring role—was popular, the show wasn't. So Newman and White teamed up to rework the ailing show to fit its star into the new format, one that was also to include a secret agent. READ MORE

But, who to play the agent? Both White and Newman had worked with Patrick Macnee previously and invited him. Macnee was not interested in another acting job; he wanted to continue pursuing production, a field he had just entered. But the lure of a steady wage won Macnee over. READ MORE

Thus began The Avengers. And the formula worked—so well, in fact, that John Steed gradually became the more popular character, even though he was second-banana to Ian Hendry's Dr. David Keel. (Because Keel was the lead, there are actually a couple of Avengers episodes in which Steed does not appear!) Of the series Patrick Macnee has remarked, "[Ian and I] used to drink so much that when we watched it, the alcohol told us it was terrific, but in fact I think it was pretty awful." (Patrick Macnee speaking to Steve Hockensmith of Cinescape Magazine)

As for the shows themselves, presently only "The Frighteners," "Girl on the Trapeze" and the first twenty minutes of "Hot Snow" are known to exist. Still, if these were somehow preserved and found decades later, there may yet be hope for further discoveries... Stay tuned!

For help in understanding the progression of the show's history, the Avengers Timeline puts it in graphic perspective.

NEXT

All materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.
This website Copyright 1996-2017 David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

Top of page
Table of Contents