The New Avengers have arrived

Charm and bowler hat, humor and leather boots, stolidity and umbrella, seduction, chases, stunts, fights, blows of all kinds: here is the menu that TF 1 offers you on Saturday night, from June 16, for 13 weeks. It’s a light menu, a summer menu that is perfect for sweet and rosy evenings just before the stars appear. Speaking of stars, this TV series is not lacking in them.

Naturally, giving credit where credit is due, there is first the founder, the pillar, the irremovable graying seducer: Patrick Macnee. Having become Uncle Steed, however, he has, since the previous series, taken a step back, leaving the execution of his genius to Gambit (Gareth Hunt).

But what has been most renewed is the woman. You might even write the Woman. A subtle cocktail of sex appeal, wit and daring. After Honor Blackman, after Diana Rigg - who is currently making a big career in the United States - after Linda Thorson, it's Joanna Lumley, named Purdey, whom uncle Steed has chosen. And he does not have bad taste!

A TV series that reaches the masses is extremely rare. This is the case, however, with “The Avengers", the first episode of which premiered eighteen years ago. It has traveled the world with these little Englishwomen, triumphing on all continents, flourishing over the years. This time we are at the seventh vintage of "Bowler Hat and Leather Boots". Bottled two years ago, it has been allowed to age slowly, perhaps in the hope that it will improve. Finally, here it is ready to taste and we will be able to judge for ourselves.

There is something new in this latest delivery, as three episodes take place in France, in Beaujolais. We will find see well-known performers, such as Christine Delaroche, Pierre Vernier, Maxence Mailfort-- protagonists of a curious affair where the French army is attacked by Russian soldiers...asleep since the last war!

It's very surprising, but Steed, the old fox, has seen it before and he will be able to save himself from this situation without the providential intervention of Big Ben, or any brand of watches, even of quartz.

Patrick Macnee smiles at this hint, with the distinguished detachment which characterizes him. Taking up all the qualities and faults that are attributed to the British gentleman, Patrick Macnee had only to cultivate the character he was already: of Scots origin, descendant of the Hastings family, cousin of David Niven, educated at the famous Eton College, Patrick himself behaves in the city as on the screen. Or rather, one could say that he plagiarizes himself and caricatures himself. Indeed, he spent much of his professional career in Hollywood and first married an American - actress Barbara Douglas - who gave him two children. This gives a certain relaxation and a critical view of his own condition, even if until then, he had always learned to behave as if he had swallowed his inseparable umbrella.

"May I add," said Patrick, with his exquisite delicacy, "that I have jostled my congenital rigor to appreciate, more than is permitted to a subject of Her Majesty, French cooking and wine?” Perhaps Patrick Macnee also owes this expanded view of his own character to the fact that he was commander of the Royal Navy during the war. This must have been a marvelous point in common with Gareth Hunt, who spent six years in the English navy, roaming the seas all over the world before docking at the theater and then anchoring on television.

“After playing the role of Frederick in "Upstairs, Downstairs", I was offered the character of Gambit in "The New Avengers" (the English title of "Chapeau Melon et Bottes de Cuir") “I accepted with all the more pleasure because I had the impression that I’d be entering a company almost as venerable as the Old Vic. I admired the TV series when I was still in college!

Joanna Lumley, meanwhile, was playing with dolls at the time of the first episodes. The fight was tough to be next in the line of succession. She pulled it off with wrist strength, laying a stuntman flat out on the carpet with a good uppercut. This daughter of a major of the Indian army sobbed before she accomplished the exploit, which demonstrated at the same time her skill and sensitivity. "So I was engaged," she said, evidently not displeased.

When we look at Joanna we understand why no one can resist her.

Caption for photo of Purdey: She won’t break her word.

Caption for photo of the three leads: The three "permanent" heroes: from right to left, Gareth Hunt, Joanna Lumley, Patrick Macnee.

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