Patrick Macnee interview from TV Times 1961

ABC's The Avengers is screened tonight (Saturday) at 8.50

RECLINING elegantly in his armchair, Patrick Macnee sipped a large vodka and tonic.

"Am I really like John Steed of The Avengers? Very English, a master of understatement, polished, educated, wealthy?" he asked.

"Sometimes I wonder who's who. Patrick Macnee or John Steed - who am I? Perhaps Patrick is not everything John is, but we are alike in many ways.

In real life I am an adventurer. I fancy myself as a sort of Scarlet Pimpernel.

I crave excitement. After the war I wanted to go in for gun-running. Of course I have Walter Mitty dreams about splendid things. Who doesn't?

"During the war, when I was commander of a motor-torpedo boat, we ran across a pack of German E-boats off the Channel Islands. There was one thing to do. Sink the lot, quickly.

"We had the advantage of surprise. It was quick and deadly. We moved in and got most of them. Quite an action."

Macnee paused. "How I wish that story was true," he said. "But it is just a bit of my Walter Mitty fantasy life.

"In fact, I used to get seasick every time we went out."

He went on: "It's true, though, that I came from a English, very romantic family.

"There 's my mother, a kinswoman of the Earls of Huntingdon, who claim Robin Hood as an ancestor.

"My grandfather, Sir Daniel Macnee, was president of the Royal Scottish Academy. My father was a famous racehorse trainer. David Niven, the star, is my cousin.

"Like Steed, I live by my own rules. I alw ays have. At Eton College I was a gambler, a successful one because I got tips straight from the 'quote horse's mouth'- my father, then very active in the racing business.

"I had 200 in the kitty when the authorities caught me. I was nearly expelled."

Macnee poured out more vodka. "Let's say Steed is a slightly exaggerated form of myself," he went on.

"Somebody once said to me: 'you should have lived in the 18th century'. I agree. Like Steed I'm a great pretender. Anybody who loves the good life as I do has to be a pretender."

from The TV Times, England, 30th June 1961.

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