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The New Avengers

The New Avengers

Essentially this was very similar to the original 'Avengers' series, but updated for the '70s and somewhat inferior to it's masterful 1960s original. Whilst Patrick macNee remained in his role of Steed, although Joanna Lumley in the role of 'Purdey' replaced Diana Rigg's Emma Peel, and Gareth Hunt appeared (in pre-Nescafe-ad. days) as third agent 'Gambit'. Twenty six episodes were filmed between the October of '76 and the end of '77, written by Brian Clemens and Dennis Spooner and broadcast on ITV. The storylines, although intriguing, were considerably more far-fetched than the original 'Avengers', inclining more towards sci-fi plots and away from straightforward espionage (i.e. humanoid robots, cryogenesis, mind-control etc. etc.) which stretched the viewer's credulity considerably. Originality could also sometimes be lacking -'Gnaws', an episode featuring giant rats in the sewer network, was probably borrowed from a certain Dr. Who episode (although loved by fans of The Stranglers no doubt) whilst 'K Is For Kill' was blatantly lifted from the Charles Bronson film 'Telephone'. Nonetheless, for every rip-off tale there were at least three originals, one of the best being 'Complex' (where the mind of a rogue agent known as 'Scapinia' is downloaded into a colossal computer, based in an office complex in Canada that is entirely digitally-controlled from a central database. 'Scapinia' sets about eliminating anybody who seeks to inflitrate his / it's HQ to switch him off, using all manner of nasty lines in practical jokes such as collapsing lift floors and corridor walls that tip up into an incinerator shaft. Our intrepid threesome soon find themselves in the clutches of this objectionable building). Episode runs were complicated by the fact that regional ITV netweorks failed to stick to the set running schedule, meaning that different parts of the series were shown at different times in varying parts of the country (this didn't matter in practice, since most of the episodes were self-contained, although the much-travelled could often find themselves watching the same episode twice if they found themselves in different ITV regions from week to week). Joanna Lumley later recalled that of all her many TV appearances, making 'The New Avengers' was her most exciting and downright fun role to date.

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