Avengers first appeared on British television more than five years
before it was imported to the United States in 1966.
Pure escapist entertainment, it
centered on John Steed, a suave, imperturbable, and very proper British secret
agent, who was joined after a few episodes by a female partner.
Their missions, whether planned or accidental, involved all sorts of diabolical
geniuses who planned to take over the world through various fantastic schemes.
technical devices, wittily absurd villains, and the clever and efficient
Steed combined to make this fantasized espionage series unique. Like the American-made
Man From U.N.C.L.E, it attempted
to out-James-Bond James Bond.
original female partner in the British version of the series was Honor Blackman, who
played Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger. By the time The Avengers reached American
audiences, she had been replaced by
the lithe, jump-suited Diana Rigg. Steed and Mrs. Peel were separated in the March
20, 1968 episode, when she was reunited with her long-lost husband. Linda
Thorson, a younger and more voluptuous woman, then became the female partner.
series was resurrected in Britain in 1976 with a new title,
Avengers, and a new supporting cast for Mr. Steed - young agents Purdey
and Gambit. It was this version that joined the CBS late-night lineup
in the fall of 1978, the only original programming (at least to American
audiences) amid CBS' late-night
movie reruns and episodes of former prime-time network TV series.
popularity of this late-night Avengers prompted CBS to
subsequently rerun both it and the earlier version that had aired on ABC in the
The end date above refers to the original ABC prime-time run of The Avengers.