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The Avengers: A Celebration by Marcus Hearn

1/07/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Avengers: A Celebration in the USA - or Buy The Avengers: A Celebration in the UK

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pub: Titan Books. 160 page illustrated indexed hardback. Price: about GBP 11.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-1-84856-672-9.

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ITV’s 60s favourite, ‘The Avengers’, is probably on par with ‘The Prisoner’ for the number of books written about the series, although this volume, ‘The Avengers: A Celebration’, is really a pictorial guide from over 10,000 stills that Marcus Hearn dug through on its fiftieth anniversary. Looking through all the photographs, I hope this isn’t just the cream of the crop and that there’s enough there for further volumes of equal quality. This particular book is literally page to page discoveries and don’t underestimate what’s behind the dust cover nor on the inner cover pages both ends of the book as they aren’t identical.

The photographs are a sampling from the beginning with Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel through to Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, Diana Rigg as Emma Peel and Linda Thorson as Tara King, all accompanied by Patrick Macnee as John Steed. The stills are a mixture of scenes, behind the scenes and publicity photos of all concerned with occasional forays into guest-stars and settings. If you ever wondered what the name of the lake with the bridge that was used in ‘The Hour That Never Was’ and the Tara King opening credits, Hearn gives the info as being Tykes Water Lake, near the studio. There’s a lot of other useful information given in the text that you either know, forgotten or didn’t know which should be attractive to both old and new fans, especially as all three series have been recently been re-released in the UK. I like the explanation as to why Linda Thorson wore so many wigs in the part and where the material came from for the final episode.

The photographs are in black and white as well as colour which I suspect was more a choice of the original photographers of its day, especially as the series wasn’t filmed in colour until Diana Rigg’s second season. What is most surprising is so many that I can’t recall seeing in other books about the series. Something that must be of note for authors looking out for material for other TV series material because it would mean that there’s a lot of hidden material out there.

What I like most about some of the behind the scenes photos is seeing various directors and being able to put a face to their names at long last. If there’s anything missing, I just wish there were more photos of the various guest stars although I suspect getting permission for using them might be a bind.

In many respects, this is a fast read book but I suspect many of you will spend time going over it time and again and keeping it off your coffee table in case your friends want to ‘borrow’ it for a while.

GF Willmetts

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