Actor Patrick Macnee, who played John Steed on The Avengers from 1961 to 1969, died on Thursday at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. Steed, as the distinguished bowler-hatted, brolly-toting crime-fighter and spy, went on all sorts of dangerous adventures, accompanied by a series of lovely assistants. The vintage Avengers featured Steed’s most popular assistant, Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg. The show was a metaphor for the era; Steed, the Edwardian gentleman down to his wardrobe and choice of cars stood in stark contrast to Mrs. Peel, symbol of youth and vitality, showing off her judo chops and garbed in a slinky catsuit of leather or bright colors. Despite their differences in style, the two made an effective team, with a sexual tension that kept things lively throughout the three seasons they shared the screen.
The opening titles of the fifth season, which aired in 1967, encapsulate the style and spirit of the show—if you’ve never checked out The Avengers, here’s a taste:
Incidentally, the header image on this page is based on this brief intro that was appended to the series when it was first aired in the U.S.:
Here are some stills from the sequence, as well as some Steed-and-Peel tomfoolery: