Behind the Scenes:
Emma Peel Era

Agents Extraordinary

Fearing the series might not be understood by its new American audience (whereas the UK had been enjoying it for three seasons already), the producers devised a special introduction, which has become known as the "chessboard intro."

The segment begins with the image of a large dagger protruding from the back of a man wearing a dinner jacket. The body falls to the floor—which happens to be a huge chessboard populated by life-sized playing pieces. Onto the board saunter John Steed and Emma Peel. Steed stoops to retrieve the champagne bottle from the dead man's hand. He and Emma share a toast, then they depart the scene. The sequence is accompanied by a jazzy bongo track and the following narration:

Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state have to be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed, top professional, and his partner, Emma Peel, talented amateur. Otherwise known as The Avengers.

When A&E first released the monochrome series on video, North American fans were up in arms because this introduction was missing, and could not understand why. The reason: A&E's videos were produced from the original film masters, which did not have this part since it was created expressly for the American market long after the episodes were finished. People in the UK never saw it at all until recently, and some didn't even understand what the American fans were carrying on about!

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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