A New Girl Replacing Karate Kid
Already on the iffy list for renewal
in the fall, "The Avengers" is about to suffer what could be a fatal
Diana Rigg, a British actress who can be a lady and sexy at the same time, leaves the English-made spy spoof March 20 to devote full attention to movies and the stage. She will be replaced by a 20-year old Toronto girl, Linda Thorson, winner of a talent hunt among 200 young actresses.
Technically, Linda is not a replacement. Diana has been Emma Peel, karate-loving assistant to John Steed (Patrick Macnee). Linda will assist Steed in espionage, but in the role of Tara King. She will rely more on feminine guile than athletic skill.
ABC used "The Avengers" as a mid-season replacement this season, just as it had done earlier. This led to rumours that the network was not fully appreciative of its merits. Actually, ABC executives are its greatest fans.
But part of the problem can be traced to the fact that the show, which has a loyal but relatively small audience, is a quality British production. The studio, unlike the sausage factories of Hollywood, is not geared to turning out shows by the mile.
So, production schedules are short-term. The American Broadcasting Co. can't plan any long-range booking.
ABC Television Ltd is, despite its name, in no way related to the American Broadcasting Co. In Britain, ABC stands for Associated British Corp. whose company, Associated British Productions, produces "The Avengers" at its Elstree Studios.
The production company hopes that Linda Thorson will be able to take over for Diana Rigg as well as Diana did after Honor Blackman, later to gain fame as Pussy Galore in the James Bond movie, "Goldfinger", left the series. Macnee has been with the show since it was spun out of an earlier British series "Police Doctor," in 1961. When Ian Hendry, who had the title role in that show, was killed off, ending the series, Macnee, the second male lead, set off to avenge his death in a new series.
And thus "The Avengers" was born. How soon will it die? Much depends on how quickly Linda Thorson can make its fans forget Diana Rigg.
From: TV Magazine, USA, March 3rd 1968.
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