1. ‘The Hidden Tiger’ (Mar 1967)
“Pussies galore!” Ronnie Barker’s cat-rescue home is the centre of a magnificently ludicrous plot to turn domestic moggies into man-eating killers. A feel-good feline frolic exemplifying prime Avengers.
2. ‘The Hour That Never Was’ (Nov 1965)
An eerie aura is cast by the abandoned airfield and temporal puzzlement. Roy Kinnear gives a fine performance, while the climactic punch-up is a scream.
3. ‘Too Many Christmas Trees’ (Dec 1965)
A Dickensian seasonal treat. A gang of ruthless telepaths are bent on infiltrating and destroying Steed’s mind. He keeps them at bay by singing old English folk songs.
4. ‘The Nutshell’ (Oct 1963)
A traitor at large in a claustrophobic nuclear bunker: the perfect setting for a tense, gripping espionage thriller that makes Cathy – and the viewer – question what we know about the mysterious Mr Steed.
5. ‘The Cybernauts’ (Oct 1965)
This mad-scientist-plus-killer-robot classic spawned the series’ only recurring foes, and aired 12 months before the Doctor first encountered the Cybermen.
6. ‘Who’s Who??’ (May 1967)
More absurd sci-fi convolutions allow Macnee and Rigg to camp it up as a pair of dancing, kissing, gum-chewing enemy agent lovers. They’ve switched bodies with our heroes, and are clearly loving it.
7. ‘Build A Bigger Mousetrap’ (Feb 1964)
An early glimpse of The Avengers’ true eccentricity: a teenage biker gang is cursed by witches, while Steed poses as a representative of the ‘National Distrust’.
8. ‘Brief For Murder’ (Sep 1963)
Steed clashes with Cathy, then appears to arrange and execute her murder. The crusty, amoral Lakin brothers are a delight, as was the TV Times coverage, treating the story like a real legal trial.
9. ‘Look…’ (Dec 1968)
Dennis Spooner’s most comedic script was divisive. But there’s a terrific early study in controlled panic from John Cleese, Bernard Cribbins as a hack gag writer, lethal custard pies, and an evil pantomime horse.
10. ‘Dead Men Are Dangerous’ (Nov 1978)The New Avengers provided our most thorough, profound examination of Steed. “The only thing that can’t be replaced is the love and life of an old friend.”
The Avengers Complete Collection is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray now, distributed by Studiocanal.