Steed is a bad guy!
By Lester Middlehurst
BRITISH actor Patrick Macnee can't turn on the charm in Hollywood and longer. Smooth, suave, sophisticated Macnee shot to fame as the perfect English gentleman in The Avengers, and the series begins a repeat run on Channel Four tonight.
But now he is forced to play villains in American television soap operas, some of which are due to be screened in this country.
Macnee talked about his change of roles while he was in Britain, staying at his Chichester cottage to record a new quiz show for TVS - his first work for British television since The Avengers.
He says: "When I was in Hollywood in the 1950s I was young and handsome and always played the gentleman. But because of the Northern Ireland situation attitudes towards the British have changed in America.
"To have an English accent no longer means you are a gentleman. Now I can only play villains."
Macnee was lured from his Californian base - he has homes in Palm Springs and San Diego - to star in a celebrity quiz based on nostalgia. The series, Vintage Quiz, begins on October 17.
And in the first show he has a surprise reunion with the original Avenger girl Honor Blackman and the New Avengers star Gareth Hunt, who played Mike Gambit. It is several years since Miss Blackman and Macnee have met; the last time was when they danced the night away in Kuala Lumpur. He was on a celebrity tennis tour and she was starring in a play.
"It was wonderful to see her again," says Macnee, "It definitely brought a tear to the eye.
"But we won't be doing another series together. Neither of us is getting any younger and we're not about to leap into black leather suits again."
Macnee was 40 when he started playing gentlemanly John Steed. Now he is 61. He emigrated to Canada 30 years ago, with eight dollars in his pocket and lived in the YMCA.
Now he can't walk down a street in America without being stopped. But in England he is afraid people might have forgotten him.
"Perhaps they will realise I'm still alive when this quiz show is on television," he says. "And once you get cable television in Britain you will probably see me in lots of films that I hoped would never be shown over here."
During his stay in Britain, Macnee has been renewing his showbiz acquaintances and visiting familiar haunts in Sussex.
He has rented a cottage in Chichester ever since he appeared at the theatre there in 1975.
From Brighton Evening Argus, England, October 1st 1983.
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