Saturday, 27 June 2015

Celebrating Patrick Macnee - John Steed of The Avengers (1922-2015)

It was on Thursday evening whilst watching the 1968 Avengers episode Look - (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers... that I learned of the passing of British actor Patrick Macnee at the age of 93. I sadly never met Patrick Macnee, but since I first saw him in his warm, glowing portrayal of bowler-hatted stylish super sleuth John Steed in The New Avengers during the mid 70s I have been a fan.

One of Channel 4's greatest acquisitions when it started up in the early 80s was its regular Saturday night reruns of the Emma Peel episodes of The Avengers. This was my introduction to them and on viewing them, I was smitten! What an incredible chemistry between Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee as Emma Peel and John Steed as they fended off colourful villains on a weekly basis from Cybernauts to a Positive Negative Man, each episode featuring an equally captivating guest star, among them Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Peter Bowles.

As for Steed and Emma Peel’s on-screen chemistry, there was never a question of a will they or won't they romance, the chances are the characters had already been there and done that, they'd got it all out of their systems and were now channeling their energies into saving the world!

I have rediscovered those Emma Peel episodes several times over the years, on TV reruns and video purchases, they still have a great timeless energy and flair to them, as I recently discovered with my 8 year old son as we found these shows once again on the True Entertainment channel recently. "These are much better than those other Avengers" he observed referring to the Marvel film franchise and  I have to agree, John Steed and Emma Peel still rule.

Of course Patrick Macnee was a very diverse actor on film and stage as well (in fact I only came across a programme of his appearance at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in The Grass is Always Greener in my theatre programme collection the other night). He played Watson to Christopher Lee's Holmes in two television films and co-starred with Roger Moore in A View to Kill while also playing the band manager in This Is Spinal Tap.

John Steed is whom Patrick Macnee will be remembered for and ultimately will go on giving so much pleasure with, as The Avengers continues to enthral generations in the coming years.

Certainly the next glass of champagne I sample will be raised to this incredible actor's legacy. Thank you Patrick Macnee!

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