Cue chorus girls in black leather catsuits, and dapper besuited boys in bowler hats bopping with brollies. Yes, The Avengers television thriller is being developed into a stage musical.
A small team has been assembled to explore whether The Avengers could work under a West End proscenium.
One of the signature shows of the Sixties, the series made a star out of the then relatively unknown Patrick Macnee — although when it first hit British tv screens, in 1961, Ian Hendry was actually the lead, playing a doctor whose girlfriend had been murdered.
Cue chorus girls in black leather catsuits, and dapper besuited boys in bowler hats bopping with brollies. Yes, The Avengers television thriller is being developed into a stage musical. Above, Patrick Macnee as John Steed with his trusty companion Emma Peel (Diana Rigg)
Subsequently, the GP linked up with intelligence officer John Steed (Macnee’s character) to solve cases of intrigue.
And when Hendry left after the first series, the programme’s producers promoted Macnee. They also took the decision to have a woman share top billing.
First up was Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale; followed by Steed’s most famous operative, Emma Peel (Diana Rigg); and lastly Linda Thorson, as Tara King.
Steed used his special umbrella (which sheathed a sword) and steel-brimmed bowler hat to good effect when dealing with baddies. But his style was urbane and he was tailored to the hilt, like an Edwardian dandy.
So, it was mostly left to the women to take charge and dish out the punishment. A karate kick often did the trick.
First up to work alongside Steed in the classic 60s' series was Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale. A small team has been assembled to explore whether The Avengers could work under a West End proscenium
Steed would summon help with a simple phrase — ‘Mrs Peel, we’re needed!’ — and she would then proceed to kick ass.
The show’s writers came up with some great one-liners. Once, when facing a lethal foe, Steed was asked whether he had any last requests. ‘Would you cancel my milk?’ he responded.
Macnee — who died two years ago — seemed to have the best spark on screen with Rigg — and it’s their partnership that’s remembered most fondly.
Universal Stage Productions, the theatrical arm of Universal Pictures (which was involved with the staging of both Billy Elliot and Wicked), have asked writer and director Sean Foley and composer David Arnold, who created the score for the musical Made In Dagenham (much missed by me!) to work on the project.
It’s still early days for The Avengers musical — the official green light won’t be given until complex legal rights issues have been untangled. Above, Steed's last pairing was with Linda Thorson, as Tara King
Arnold also did the music for Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, so his involvement seems particularly appropriate — given that Sydney Newman, head of drama at the old ITV station, ABC, came up with the original idea for The Avengers as a way for the small screen to compete with the excitement Ian Fleming’s 007 stories were generating.
However, it’s still early days for The Avengers musical — the official green light won’t be given until complex legal rights issues have been untangled.
Universal Stage Productions did not return my calls requesting a comment.