Saturday, 9 May 2015


It was Saturday night, March 5th 1966, and one of my Aunts
was visiting.  As she chatted away with my mother, I watched an
episode of The AVENGERS entitled The HOUSE That JACK
BUILT.  I always remembered it for some reason (especially the
name), perhaps because it was an intriguing, tense, psychological
thriller, with EMMA PEEL trapped in an isolated, automated
house in the country.

The imagery was entrancing, and remained in my mind for
years afterwards.  Then, one night in the early or mid-'90s, it was
repeated for, I think, perhaps the first time since its initial airing.
It stands up well, despite the continuity errors and an obviously
burly man standing in for DIANA RIGG in some scenes.

Funnily enough, after posting the previous Babe of the Day
photo of Diana, I noticed it was on TV, so I sat and watched it.  I
think that's three times I've seen it again (I saw a repeat of it in be-
tween its '90s showing and tonight), and it's strange to think that al-
though the subsequent times I've viewed the episode in the home in
which I currently reside now outnumber my original '66 exposure
to it, I still mainly associate it with the house, neighbourhood
and era in which I lived back then.

Yes, you're right - this post is nothing but a self-indulgent
wallowing in personal nostalgia, but I can't help myself.  Funny
how some memories and associations are indelible, and can't be
subdued, erased, or replaced, however many years may pass, or
regardless of how many times we may re-experience some-
thing in a different place or period.

Jack built that house close to 50 years ago.  Odd to think
that, in my mind at least, I'm sometimes still living in it.  Or is
it living in me?  (Ooh, profound or what?)  Nice episode by the
way - if you haven't seen it before and ever get the chance
to watch it, don't deprive yourself of the opportunity.


Ken said...

The on screen chemistry of Steed and Emma always makes even the most average of Avengers episodes a joy to watch. Off screen they were great friends as well. On the final day of shooting, when Diana was leaving the show, the urbane and suave Patrick was seen to shed a tear or two in the dressing room.

We're needed Mrs Peel!


Dougie said...

I've seen it twice this year, thanks to the repeats on True Entertainment. It's interesting to compare it to episodes of Thriller-also by Brian Clemens- where the Hitchcockian elements resurface, especially in "Death to Sister Mary".

Rip Jagger said...

Sadly I have to say The Avengers (tv version) have always eluded me, in respect to the charm. I appreciate them, but the banter wears me down. One of the stations I get plays them in the afternoons on weekdays and I got see some of the Honor Blackman episodes (pre-Rigg) and they were curiosities. I got bored of them too swiftly I think.

I'll keep my eye out for this one. I've never seen it and those stills are intriguing.

Rip Off

Kid said...

Ken, I also fancied Linda Thorson, who replaced her, but the show was never quite the same again. I remember when the New Avengers started, everyone being surprised by Patrick MacNee still looming the same, as if he had last played Steed a lifetime ago. In fact, it had only been 6 or 7 years, but that seems like a lifetime if you're a teenager, which I was at the time.


True Entertainment was where I watched the episode last night, Dougie. I stumbled onto it while channel-hopping. I don't think I've ever seen any episodes of Thriller (that I recall), so I'll keep my eye out for the programme.


It probably did become a bit too whimsical as time wore on, Rip. The Gale episodes were more serious, but they were largely studio-bound, I think, and perhaps seem a little dated for that.

John Pitt said...

Even though I preferred Tara King, the Emma Peel series had the slight edge. My favourite episodes were The Cybernauts (Peel) and Return Of The Cybernauts (King).

Kid said...

What? No mention of The Winged Avenger?

DeadSpiderEye said...

Yeah Tara King was pretty saucy, the rest of the show was going down hill though, I mean, 'Mother' flippin' eck.

By coincidence, this is the episode that made an impression on me. I don't think I've seen it since but I recall it being pretty tense and quite twisted.

Colin Jones said...

I was only just over 2 weeks old when that episode was originally shown and I've never seen the original Avengers but I remember the New Avengers very well. About ten years ago I was talking to my mother and for some reason Diana Rigg was mentioned and she said "oh. from the Avengers" which really surprised me as I didn't know she'd even heard of the show - it just shows how strongly associated Diana Rigg is with her role as Emma Peel. Having a burly man standing in for Ms. Rigg must be the worst body double ever !!

Kid said...

DSE, yeah, I always thought 'Mother' was ridiculous too. (A nod to Bond's 'M' perhaps?) The writers and producers say that they knew it was going to be the last series so indulged themselves by deliberately going over the top.


The show was pretty big, CJ - I'd have been surprised if your mother HADN'T heard of it. You can see the episode on YouTube by the way.

TC said...

IIRC, "The House That Jack Built" was done in a surreal style, and was played more for suspense than action.

It seems like a lot of action-adventure series (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, and The Avengers) started out being played fairly straight, then got increasingly campy and silly as time went on. They seemed to go over the top in 1966-67, when the camp fad peaked. It was the year of Batman, Modesty Blaise, Matt Helm, and Our Man Flint. Then the fad passed, and most of those TV shows tried to tone it down. By then, though, the damage was done. Or maybe those shows had all run their course anyway. "The Winged Avenger" was obviously a spoof of the whole Batman/campy super hero fad.

I remember seeing "Thriller" in syndicated reruns ca. 1970. IIRC, the local TV station was also running "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" reruns, too. Offhand, I don't remember specific episodes. And if I did, I might get mixed up as to which episodes were on which series.

Kid said...

Apologies, TC, I published several comments across different posts at the one time, then forgot to come back and respond to yours. THTJB certainly had suspense, and allowed Diana to carry the episode mainly on her own. It's an interesting question to wonder if the camp style hurried some shows to their demise or had, as you say, simply run their course. Maybe a bit of both, eh?

I don't recall seeing Thriller, but it's always possible. I'd have to see the titles and then maybe they'd prompt my memory.

Kid said...

In my response to Ken, it should read 'Patrick MacNee looking the same", not 'looming'.

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