THE AVENGERS “Mr. Teddy Bear.” ABC (Associated British Corporation), UK, 29 September 1962 (Season 2, Episode 1). Patrick Macnee (John Steed), Honor Blackman (Mrs. Cathy Gale). Guest cast: Michael Robbins, John Ruddock, Michael Collins. Written by Martin Woodhouse. Director: Richmond Harding.

   This was the first appearance of Honor Blackman as John Steed’s new partner in crime-solving, Cathy Gale, and it’s a good one. The villain of the piece is a notorious assassin for hire with a penchant for the dramatic and flamboyance in carrying out his tasks. Prime example: the episode begins with the death of his latest victim by poisoning on live TV.

   Playing to the killer’s obvious ego, Steed comes up a plan. Set himself as bait in a plot which would have Mrs Gale as Mr. Teddy Bear’s latest client. (The name comes from the man’s communicating with his clients via a radio hidden in a stuffed “talking” teddy bear.)

   The most common way a new leading character is introduced in a TV series nowadays is to have him or her having just been hired and needing to be mentored by the old guy that’s been around a while. Not so here. It is as if Cathy Gale has always been there. No introduction takes place. The somewhat flirtatious banter between the two leads is exactly that: relaxed and friendly, and a trademark of series from Day One.

   To that end, one other reviewer of this episode wondered if the two leads spent their nights as well as days together. The characters I mean. Come on. Obviously some people want to know more than I do.

   I also read an interview with Honor Blackman that was conducted much later on in which she was asked about this episode. She said she didn’t remember it very much at all. It was just a job, was her reply. No more than that. Who knew then that The Avengers was going to become such a worldwide phenomenon?