Steed and Mrs. Peel go up against the charming but ruthless Paul Beresford, who holds the crime fighting pair responsible for the death of his brother…Oh, if you have not seen this episode, please do so before reading this little write-up.
Peter Cushing is renowned for many things on screen, but he is seldom thought of as a leading man, romantic type. He didn’t have the “manly” qualities that one typically associates with such actors. He was slight of build, a bit on the fussy side. As such, he seldom had an opportunity to really display much of a romantic quality on screen. Just think of the roles for which he was best known: Sherlock Holmes, Baron Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Van Helsing were all so single minded and obsessive, they never had much time for sex.
As such, Cushing’s performance as Paul Beresford in this season six episode of the hugely popular British TV show The Avengers is of great interest. True, Beresford is a sociopath and a villain, but he has some scenes with the delectable Mrs. Peel (played, as usual, by the stunning Diana Rigg) which hint at the Don Juan side of his personality. Cushing and Rigg absolutely sparkle in their scenes together; he is witty and charming and she responds with warmth and interest. The Avengers brought on a number of familiar faces as guest stars (Christopher Lee, Dennis Price, John Carson, Clifford Evans, Donald Sutherland, Michael Gough [whose character Cushing is looking to avenge in this episode, if you will pardon the expression], etc) but nobody quite displayed the on-screen chemistry with Diana Rigg that Peter Cushing did in this episode.
It’s a pity the character had to be disposed of at the end; it’s the type of character that could have been built up as a recurring villainous mastermind. But, no matter: at least we have this one, wonderful opportunity to see Cushing hawking his wares as a seductive cad, much to the delight of Mrs. Peel… and the audience.
Written By Troy Howarth
Images and Design: Marcus Brooks
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