Pop quiz. What links Charlotte Rampling, Brian Blessed, and Donald Sutherland? Obviously they’re all actors of some note but not really big hitters. Having said that, Brysie looks as if he could be if provoked, or he could just shout you to death.
I’ll put you out of your misery. All three popped up last night in an episode of The Avengers. I’ve mentioned this feast of retro psychedelia before, but the re-runs are now into the heyday of the show, the latish 1960s, and people queued up to appear in it. You can spend hours playing Spot the Thesp.
Christopher Lee turns up regularly. Always a villain of course, as indeed is Peter Cushing on the rare occasions when he makes an outing. Arthur Lowe, John Laurie, and John le Mesurier pre Dad’s Army. They’ve been in. Carry on and it looks like a Who’s Who? of British actors from the era.
Patrick Allen. Lots of even Brits won’t remember him as Crane, but lots of you will recollect the Barrat’s Homes helicopter ad. That was his gig. Ian Hendry (the original Steed.) Philip Madoc. Warren Mitchell, Julian Glover, Roy Kinnear, Michael Medwin, Bernard Cribbins. The Three Peters; Bowles, Barkworth pre Where Eagles Dare, and Jeffrey. Fulton McKay brought his sneery sarcasm to the party, and Burt Kwouk added occasional inscrutability.
Ron Moody, Ray MacAnally, Patrick Magee, Nigel Davenport… The list goes on and on. These are just the ones I’ve spotted, and yes, because I’m a geek, I have made a list as I’ve been viewing. That doesn’t make me a bad person, merely a bit of a blokey obsessive. There’s be more about that aspect of me tomorrow, I hope.
The reason that so many household names wanted to be in the show was, I think, pretty simple. It was rollicking good fun, swashbuckling knockabout, well scripted (under the influence of acid, I sometimes suspect), and deeply immersed in the visual, stylistic, and cultural vagaries of the 60s. It was of its era, certainly, but still worth a watch.
Back in 1968 it was runner up in the Primetime Emmy Award for Drama.I can’t recommend it too highly. Give The X Factor a miss.