R.I.P. Patrick Macnee

steed

Patrick Macnee has died at the age of 93. Damn, this one hit me hard. Maybe even harder than Christopher Lee, who passed away a couple of weeks ago. You see, The Avengers, the British TV show that starred Macnee as the dapper secret agent John Steed, was a huge part of my childhood. So much so that I now proudly own the 16-disc DVD collection The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset. (Diana Rigg’s Mrs. Peel, seen above with Macnee’s Steed, was my favorite of his three female partners during the original run of the series. Between The Avengers, Doctor Who, and The Tomorrow People, I learned a lot about rotating casts in British TV shows!)

Back in the early to mid-1980s, MSG — the Madison Square Garden network on then-fledgling cable TV in New York City — showed reruns of The Avengers late on weeknights. I don’t really remember why it was on MSG. Maybe back then they only had enough sports programming to fill the daytime hours and at night they went to syndication. Whatever the reason, I watched The Avengers religiously, all the way from Diana Rigg’s first episode to the final episodes with Linda Thorson’s Tara King, whom I never liked as much as Mrs. Peel. And then the cycle would start over again, and I’d keep watching until all the episodes became indelibly etched in my mind. To this day, I count The Avengers among my all-time favorite television shows. On occasion, I’ll pop in one of those 16 DVDs, watch an episode, and be that young boy again staying up way past his bedtime to catch Steed and Mrs. Peel’s adventures. I still get a thrill whenever I hear Macnee say, as he did at the start of most episodes, “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed.”

Macnee wasn’t only in The Avengers, of course. He was a welcome presence in many a film and TV show. I love him as George Waggner in The Howling, the kind-hearted, tragic leader of the werewolf colony. He played Sir Godfrey Tibbett in A View to a Kill, arguably one of the worst James Bond movies, but it was awesome to see him in it because Roger Moore’s portrayal of Bond was clearly deeply influenced by Macnee’s John Steed. Macnee did voiceover work and had an onscreen role in the original Battlestar Galactica. And of course he was Sir Denis Eton-Hogg in This is Spinal Tap.

But man, John Steed was where it was at. He was effortlessly calm and collected, never lost his cool, had an inimitable style, and best of all, got to hang out with Mrs. Peel. I wanted to be him when I grew up — three-piece suit, (steel-lined) bowler hat, (sword-hiding) umbrella and all. Part of me still wants to be him, although I don’t think I’d look as good as he did in that getup.

Rest in peace, Patrick Macnee, but I’m sorry to see you go. I know I speak for legions of fans when I say you’re still needed.

2 responses to “R.I.P. Patrick Macnee”

  1. Bruce LeRoy says:

    Loved this series could hardly wait for Sunday night,Mrs Peel was too sexy all that leather.

  2. Sanpito says:

    The avengers had part of my childreness too and miss emma peel was a sex goddess.

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