The Avengers: Series 4 (1965)
Thursday 10th June 2010
As Series 4 of definitive spy-fi The Avengers hit UK audiences in 1965, there were some major changes, the first being the introduction of Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, replacing former sidekick to John Steed (Patrick Macnee), Dr Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman). The name Emma Peel derived from producers wanting to create a character with 'man appeal', and formed part of a new sexier direction.
More than 80 actresses auditioned for the role before Rigg was discovered. Her screen test with Macnee showed the two immediately worked well together, and a new era in Avengers history began. It was also this series, the last to be filmed in black and white, which was sold to US television for a then un-heard of sum of $2 million. This made it one of the first British series to be aired on prime-time American Television.
A new direction, and a new surge of money meant a new look for the series, moving from studio-bound sets to location shots and a shift to shooting on 35mm film. This series notably became more light-hearted due to Macnee and Peel's new relationship. A more jovial script also opened doors for more humour and to poke fun at its American counterparts such as "Mission...Highly Improbable" and "The Winged Avenger".
The increased popularity of spy-fi meant many episodes were characterised by a futuristic, science fiction bent than in previous series, including mad scientists and their creations leaving havoc in their wake, giant carnivorous plants, and invisible foes. This enabled a sexy undercurrent, also demonstrated in Emma Peel's costumes including fashions very avant-garde for the time: bold accents and high-contrast geometric patterns emphasising her youthful contemporary personality, and representing modern sixties England. Fetishism is even hinted at in some episodes including A Touch of Brimstone, where Rigg was dressed as a dominatrix to become the 'Queen of Sin'. This was one of five episodes from Series 4 that were not initially broadcast in the US by ABC due to censors deeming it too racy for American audiences.
With the release of The Complete Series 4 on DVD on 5th July 2010 by Optimum Home Entertainment, and featuring the first full restoration of all episodes, we can relish the expanded wardrobes, lavish sets, top notch scriptwriting and stories that benefit from the combined input of writers, directors and actors all at their peak. The longest running espionage series produced for English-language television, The Avengers eventually reached audiences in 120 countries, a record that still stands to this day. Now you can watch this timeless classic again and again.
- Exclusive audio commentary for The Town of No Return with director
- Roy Ward Baker and scriptwriter/producer Brian Clemens
- Exclusive audio commentary for The Master Minds with scriptwriter Robert Banks Stewart
- Exclusive audio commentary on Dial A Deadly Number with scriptwriter Roger Marshall
- Exclusive audio commentary on The Hour That Never Was with director Gerry O'Hara
- Exclusive audio commentary on The House That Jack Built with director Don Leaver
- The Series of No Return - Exclusive audio interview with Elizabeth Shepherd
- Armchair Theatre 'The Hothouse' (staring Diana Rigg)
- USA Chessboard opening sequence
- Strange Case of the Missing Corpse promotional trailer
- Alternative end tag from Death At Bargain Prices
- Episode reconstructions for series 1 scripts Kill The King and Dead of Winter
- Colourised test footage from Death At Bargain Prices and A Touch of Brimstone
- Reconstructed 'The Avengers are back' John Stamp trailer
- Alternative UK opening and closing credits
- Alternative UK animated bumpers
- UK animated bumper
- Variant opening title credits for The Gravediggers
- French opening credits
- German opening credits
- ITN Newsreel footage
- Stills galleries
- PDF material (scripts, TV Times, ABC Production paperwork)
Please note - Disc special features are subject to change, may differ from format to format and/or may differ from region to region.