The Avengers 1

diana rigg

When Chross recently posted this picture of Diana Rigg about to get a good swat, it quickly caused a sensation - so much so that we were motivated to dust off our VHS videotapes of her old television series, The Avengers, in search of a brief spanking scene we remembered. (Sorry, but we don't have any specific information about this particular photo, except that we estimate it was taken around 1970).

Now, The Avengers has long had a cult following here in the States, although we understand it was generally laughed at in the U.K. In fact, we remember seeing it on ABC back in 1967, when occasionally British shows would appear in prime time on networks other than PBS. It was short on substance, but it had style, and the producer was canny enough to play up the sex appeal of first Honor Blackman (as Cathy Gale) and then Diana Rigg (as Emma Peel) to boost the show's appeal. Interestingly, when Rigg left the show and was replaced by Linda Thorson, who was at least as good-looking but not allowed to be sexy, the show tanked.

diana rigg

Now back to the "spanking". It was really just a stroke with a fencing foil delivered by Patrick Macnee, but we knew we had it somewhere and decided to hunt it up. Herewith we present it in WMV format. Too bad it wasn't a rattan cane, but you can't have everything. Actually, we remember Macnee's first partner, Honor Blackman, telling him once that he "should be sent to the back of the class" to which Macnee (playing John Steed) retorted, "You should be caned in front of the class." Unfortunately, Steed didn't actually apply the cane, perhaps because Cathy Gale (like Emma Peel) was married.

This scene is from "The Town of No Return" and aired originally in 1965. In fact, we think this was the very first episode in which Diana Rigg appeared. Another actress, Elizabeth Shepard, had been cast as Steed's new partner but was replaced by Rigg for some reason (Macnee said she was too womanly). Supposedly, this episode had been shot before the decision was made, and had to be re-shot with Rigg. The only reason we bring up this trivia is that it raises the interesting possibility that somewhere in an English vault there may be another version of the "spanking" scene, never seen in the U.S.

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