The Avengers And Me by Patrick Macnee with Dave Rogers (book review).
Surprisingly, actor Patrick Macnee questions the need for a book about his work on ‘The Avengers’ in the introduction, given that Dave Rogers’ book, ‘The Complete Avengers’, already covers the subject.
Macnee initially believed people wouldn’t really care, but his son, Rupert, and others convinced him otherwise, with Dave Rogers taking on the role of scribe. This book, ‘The Avengers and Me’, delves more into the behind-the-scenes aspects of being a working actor and how Macnee’s portrayal of John Steed turned him into a popular icon, thanks to being in the right place at the right time.
I was unaware of how much Macnee could drink, and I found the long hours and days spent rehearsing before filming a live television episode fascinating. The switch to filming with Diana Rigg must have been somewhat relieving, despite the reduced turnaround time of eight days and cost-cutting measures.
Oddly enough, while there are comments from various production staff, none of his leading ladies contributed to the book, which I found surprising. One would think they might have something to say if they had been asked.
It’s essential to distinguish between Patrick Macnee the actor and his portrayal of the steady, reliable character, John Steed. I can’t help but wonder if Macnee ever aspired to be like Steed in real life or simply saw it as a role he played. Many actors, particularly in those days, were insecure and compliant with their employers’ wishes to avoid being labelled ‘difficult.’ I suspect some of that still exists today.
The most revealing part of the book is the final chapter, where Macnee discusses the nature of acting and his own self-assessment compared to other actors – not very high, in his opinion. However, looking at his filmography, he successfully avoided typecasting and established an impressive network of actor and actress friends over the years.
Macnee’s personal collection of photographs featured in the book is extensive, and if you’re missing any, it’s worth getting a copy. There are still many photos out there that surprised me even after some 20 years.
I read this book rather quickly, which surprised me. I am currently re-watching the series, and the behind-the-scenes information feels like an entirely different world from the TV episode reality.
(pub: Titan Books, 1992. 144 page illustrated large softcover. Price: varies (UK). ISBN: 1-85286-801-5)