The New Avengers 1.7 – To Catch a Rat

A couple of real blasts from the past in tonight’s episode of The New Avengers. This one, famously, features the return of actor Ian Hendry, who had been the original star of the program back in 1961. Hendry isn’t playing his original character, Dr. Keel, but instead is playing an old sleeper spy who’s come in from the cold to finish a score with some old adversaries, one of whom is played by Barry Jackson, who had betrayed him in East Germany. The other person returning to the show after fifteen years is writer Terence Feely, who had last contributed scripts back when Hendry was playing Dr. Keel in the original season!

This is just me moaning, but there’s a part of me that sees a missed opportunity here. As great as it is to see Ian Hendry, who was an excellent actor, I kind of wish that they’d cast somebody who played a spy in some sixties show – Edward Woodward or Patrick McGoohan – as Gunner in this story, and asked Hendry to come back in a different story as Dr. Keel. Hendry and Patrick Macnee barely even get any screen time together, just one scene right at the end, with Hendry’s character losing consciousness and hardly in any shape to banter.

Despite the moan, this one’s a really entertaining traditional spy thriller, with no fantastic elements at all, and I was pleased that it kept our son completely hooked. He was playing really close attention and enjoyed this one a lot. Sure, his favorite scene was Purdey finding a weird and wonderful distraction to get out of a potentially embarrassing situation with two church ladies arranging flowers, but he enjoyed the whole show.

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