Budding Writer, 1979: Transitions

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“The Forget-Me-Knot,” Season 6, Episode 1 of the 1968 spy-fi “The Avengers” series, marked the transition of leading ladies. Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg, left the series and Tara King (Linda Thorson) became Steed’s new partner. (Via fan site dissolute.com.au.)

My journals from my first year as a freelancer have brought me to St. Patrick’s Day weekend, 1979. Often my college friends and I would journey to Boston to celebrate at an Irish pub, but this weekend I made do with a phone call and letter from my Boston buddies.

Like me, they were going through some changes.

In those days I was trying to take weekends, particularly Sundays, off from my work. My journal from Saturday, the 17th, shows that I “made some significant progress” on the short story “Good King Wenceslas.” I also worked on my “baby dean” application as well.

Saturday’s mail brought a letter from a friend I would have visited had I gone to Boston. She was going to quit her job and go to a business school in the city. I wrote in the journal that “somewhere, somehow, there is a plan for her — and I hope she finds it.”

She did, eventually, in another professional field entirely.

Meanwhile, I feel very confused and many of my plans, or at least ideas, have been soundly shattered.

Second, on [Larry] and [Tex] — they’re lost, too — but Larry gave me a well-needed dose of encouragement on my writing, etc. telling me to hang in there. Even Tex, although raising the perennial question of whether I intend to go back to law school, gave me encouragement to continue and to try my luck for a few years, at least.

Journal, Volume II
18 March 1979

You’ve already met Larry, the film critic and creative writer who instead pursued a career as a lawyer. His encouragement to continue writing instead of returning to law school meant a great deal to me.

My college classmate Tex, his roommate, was a second-year law student at the same university as Larry. I didn’t know at the time that he was thinking about doing exactly what I had done: drop out and pursue his real passion, which was history.

The following fall, Tex enrolled as a graduate student in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he went on to earn his doctorate.

That evening, I grabbed a quick supper with one of my housemates before heading home:

… Then, after grabbing a quick dinner at Subway with Roger, we returned to watch THE classic episode of The Avengers — “The Forget-Me-Knot” by Brian Clemens. Peter Peel is found (he looks, from a distance, like Steed, which gives rise to some very interesting takes of MacNee and Rigg), and Tara King takes over. (“He likes his tea stirred anti-clockwise.”) Steed calls her Emma for the first and only time; they kiss lightly + brilliantly. “Mother” is introduced and the series begins to lose its credibiltiy and interest. (Steed lives at 3 Stable Mews, Tara at 9 Primrose Crescent. Gotta love it!)*

I fantasized about meeting Clemens, et al, in production — and better yet, of writing a story or screenplay that would reunite all the Avengers (and maybe Get Smart.)


I grew up in the Cold War era. For me, The Avengers will always be a spy-fi universe, not the Marvel Comics one. The one and only The Avengers was the British cult television series that debuted in 1961. (Marvel’s Avengers #1 came out in September 1963.)

I had a thing for Mrs. Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg. (What boy my age didn’t? The character’s very name derived from M appeal, or male appeal.) Tired of being a teen fantasy, Rigg left the series in this 1968 episode. The series went off the air a year later. By 1979 it was in reruns. A new series creatively called The New Avengers (1976-77) never took off in the UK, or here when it finally made it across the pond.

As for my own fantasy of working with and reuniting the original cast, The New Avengers proved it would never work. The final nail in that coffin was the 1998 movie starring Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman as Steed and Peel (and featuring Sean Connery as the villain and the voice of Patrick MacNee as an invisible agent).

I’m glad I never wasted my time writing a reunion story, as much fun as it would have been. Sequels and what we now know as fan fiction rarely live up to the original.

Brian Clemens, Diana Rigg, Patrick MacNee, Sean Connery, even Larry and Tex, are all gone now, although Linda Thorson, who played Tara King, is still performing.

Ars longa, vita brevis.

*For those who missed “The Forget-Me-Knot” (or would like to see it again), here’s a YouTube link to the entire show:

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