Last updated : 18th May 2001
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Daniel Patrick Macnee was born on 6th February 1922 to wealthy parents of aristocratic aspirations. His father was a racehorse trainer who spent much of his time gambling and drinking away the family’s money. His lesbian mother took young Patrick to live with her lover Evelyn in a huge mansion in southern England where he was dressed in girl’s clothes until the age of 11. The residents and staff of Rooksnest all appeared to be absolute fruitcakes. So began the extraordinary life of Patrick Macnee.
Just like his character John Steed, Pat attended the public (private!) school Eton but was expelled for running a gambling syndicate, though it was during his time there that he became interested in acting. He served the war years in the Navy and on demobbing set out to seek acting work.
But opportunities were few and far between. Unusually, for the time, his aristrocratic background did not prove to be of much help. By the late 1950’s he had married and had two children, Rupert and Jenny. Pat discovered that the Canadian television industry was beginning to flourish and took himself across the Atlantic, leaving his family in London.
In Canada Pat managed to find a few, small acting jobs and even occasionally crossed the border to the USA where he would often turn up in now long-forgotten Westerns (and even an appearance in an episode of The Twilight Zone - see below). But, as he confesses in his autobiography, Pat was so busy trying to get work that he virtually forgot about his family – something which he feels guilty about to this day. Years later the couple divorced.
On returning to England in 1958 he came into contact with a producer by the name of Sydney Newman. At the time Newman was considering creating a television series about the life of Winston Churchill and asked Patrick to partner him in a producer’s role. It was a job Patrick accepted with glee and, as it turned out, the resulting series, entitled Winston Churchill – The Valiant Years, proved to be highly successful.
Given the success of this series, Pat decided to abandon acting and work behind the camera. However even then work remained very elusive and by 1960 he was feeling as desperate as ever. Then he bumped into Sydney Newman again....
At that time ABC Television (the UK company) had a series called Police Surgeon which starred Ian Hendry in the title role. Although the series was not particularly successful, it was obvious that young Hendry was very popular with what little audience the show had. ABC decided to scrap the series and replace it with something a little more light-hearted. And thus The Avengers was born. Newman’s idea was to continue with Hendry playing a similar character to his Dr Brent of Police Surgeon and team him with a shadowy Government agent who together would tackle high-level crime in inner-city London.
Newman had decided that the ideal person to play Hendry’s partner in the new show was Pat Macnee. At first Pat was hesitant to accept – after all, he was a producer now, wasn’t he? But his love for acting had never really died and given the fact he was virtually penniless at the time, he decided he had nothing to lose.
The premise of the first episode, ‘Hot Snow’, was that Dr David Keel (Hendry) returns to his surgery to discover his fiancee has been murdered by a gang of criminals during a mix-up over illicit drugs. Vowing to avenge her death, he is suddenly contacted by a shadowy Goverment agent by the name of John Steed. The two form an unlikely partnership as they each have their own reasons for capturing the killers....
The unfortunate fiancee was played by Kate Woodville, whom Pat later married.
Throughout it’s history, production on the Avengers was never straightforward and there were a number of occasions when Pat was sure the show would be cancelled – usually when his various co-stars decided to leave the series. In the case of the sixth season (1968) it was his co-star that was the problem – Linda Thorson receiving a very undeserved ‘thumbs-down’ from the public. Financial input from the USA was also lost and so the series could simply not afford to carry on.
During Diana Rigg’s turn, Patrick’s marriage to Kate broke down and two or three attempts to resuscitate it failed.
The success of The Avengers had made Pat a wealthy man and during his time on the show he bought property in Palm Springs, California (where he still resides today). Despite his love for Britain he chose to live in USA and makes infrequent visits to the UK.
After The Avengers Patrick found a steady stream of acting work in Hollywood (as you can see from the table below!).
In late 1975 Pat was asked to consider taking part in a revival of The Avengers. Although initially hesitant to accept, he decided he still had more to bring to the part of John Steed. Unfortunately the addition of a third lead character to the show left Patrick feeling a little left out. Also he did not care for the direction of the episodes - the new show being grittier and grounded more in the real world than the outright fantasy of the previous series. Nevertheless he conceded that the stories themselves worked very well. But Pat wasn’t sorry when the The New Avengers finished after just 26 episodes.
Back in California Pat’s film and TV work continued and he met his latest (!) wife Baba in 1986. His autobiography ‘Blind in One Ear’ followed two years later and is a splendid read! (See the Printed Matter page for further info.)
Many thanks indeed to David Yee and others for help with the filmography! The list is given chronologically, though there are some entries for which I have no year (and, indeed, no other info at all!) – these are placed at the end of the list. Any help with the filmography would be much appreciated!
|Year||Film or TV Show title and country||Character||Comments|
|1943||The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Film, UK - aka ‘Colonel Blimp’)||?|
|1948||The Fatal Night (Film, UK)||?|
|1949||Macbeth (TV, UK)||Malcolm|
|1950||The Elusive Pimpernel (Film, UK - aka ‘The Fighting Pimpernel’)||Honourable John Bristow|
|1951||Scrooge (Film, UK - aka ‘A Christmas Carol’)||Young Jacob Marley|
|1953||Othello (TV, Canada)||Cassio|
|1956||The Battle of the River Plate (Film, UK - aka ‘Pursuit of The Graf Spee’)||Lieutenant Commander Medley||WW2 film concerning the Royal Navy’s attempts to keep the convoys safe from enemy fire.|
|1957||Until They Sail (Film, USA)||Private Duff|
|1957||Les Girls (Film, USA)||Sir Percy|
|1958||The Veil (Film, UK/US)||Constable Hawton||Horror with Boris Karloff|
|1959||Mission of Danger (Film, US/Sweden)||?||A western, apparently.|
|1959||Black Saddle episode ‘Client: McQueen’(TV, US)||?||TV western series.|
|1959||Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode 'Arthur' (TV, US)||Sergeant John Theron|
|1959||Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode 'The Crystal Trench' (TV, US)||Professor Kersley|
|1969||Mr Jericho (Film, UK)||Dudley|
|1969||Incense for the Damned (Film, UK - aka ‘Bloodsuckers’)||Derek Longbow||A horror film, per chance?!|
|1970||The Virginian episode 'A King’s Ransom' (TV, US)||?|
|1971||Alias Smith and Jones episode 'The Man Who Murdered Himself' (TV, US)||Norman Alexander||A strange episode title given that one of the lead actors committed suicide during the series.|
|1971||Night Gallery episode 'Logoda's Head' (TV, US)||Major Crosby|
|1975||Matt Helm (TV, USA)||Shawcross||1975||Columbo episode ‘Troubled Waters’ (TV, USA)||Captain Gibbon||The scruffy ’tec uncovers crafty skullduggery on the high seas!|
|1976||Sherlock Holmes in New York (Film, USA)||Watson||Roger Moore played Holmes.|
|1977||King Solomon’s Treasure (1977) (Film, USA)||Captain Good||Described by Pat as "surely the worst version ever"!|
|1977||Dead of Night (Film, USA)||?|
|1978/1979||Battlestar Galactica (TV, USA)||see comments||Pat provided the narrative that started each episode (“There are those who believe....”) in this classic , enjoyable but flawed sci-fi epic (which is currently doing the repeat rounds on UK satellite). He also starred in the double-episode ‘War of the Gods’ as Count Iblis.|
|1978||Evening in Byzantium (TV, USA)||?||Boy meets Girl.... boy might be girl’s father... the usual sort of thing, you know, in this romantic fluff. Pat and Erin Gray play the leads.|
|1979||The Littlest Hobo episode 'Diamonds Are a Dog's Best Friend' (TV, Canada)||Elmer||Cute but rather-too-obvious rip-off of Lassie. Didn’t stop me from tunin’ in each week when I was a kiddiwinkie, though! I’m surprised I can’t remember Pat’s appearance in this episode.|
|1979||The Hardy Boys Mysteries episode 'Assault on the Tower' (TV, US)||“S”|
|1979||Stunt Seven (TV, USA)||?||One-off TV special in which Pat played the leader of a group of stuntmen who investigate crimes. Quite ironic, really, because during filming of The New Avengers, he joked with Gareth Hunt “The biggest stunt I do is get out of the car!”|
|1979||The Billion Dollar Threat (Film, USA)||Horatio Black||Moronic terrorism thriller. Pat plays the arch villain - not a good move!|
|1979||The Sea Wolves (Film, UK)||Major "Yogi" Crossley||Much-derided Naval thriller starring Roger Moore, David Niven and Trevor Howard.|
|1979||Sweepstake (Film, US)||?|
|1980(-ish)||Hart to Hart (TV, US)||?||Another wildly improbable episode with the glamorous detective couple on the trail of murder.|
|1981||House Calls (TV, USA)||Uncle Digby||TV show starring Lynn Redgrave. Pat guested in a single episode. Thanks to Ralph DeMarco.|
|1981||Sweet 16 (Film, USA)||John Morgan||Horror.|
|1981||The Howling (Film, USA)||Dr George Wagner||Occasionally grisly, but slow-moving, horror.|
|1981||The Hot Touch (Film, USA)||Vincent Reyblack|
|1981||The Creature Wasn't Nice (Film, USA – aka Naked Space and Spaceship)||Dr Stark||A sci-fi/horror comedy musical (!!!???!!) involving a strange blob-like creature with a passion for human flesh – in this case the crew of the spaceship! It all sounds like a cross between Alien and The Blob! Fan Patricia Clubbs kindly adds that it was basically "Airplane" in a space ship (particularly with Leslie Nielsen as a co-star). Patrick played a mad scientist who would rather sacrifice the human crew to keep the monster alive "in the name of science". I seem to remember that Pat once said in an interview that he quite enjoyed this film! Fan Phil Theobold kindly adds that the video release was under the name "Spaceship" while the recent DVD issue is called "Naked Space".|
|1981||Dick Turpin episode ‘The Greatest Adventure’ (TV, UK)||Lord Melford||With Richard O’Sullivan (whatever happened to him??) in the title role, I seem to remember this series being very popular at the time.|
|1982||Young Doctors in Love (Film, USA)||Jacobs||'Airplane'-type spoof of hospital soaps. Not particularly funny, as I remember it.|
|1982||Rehearsal for Murder (Film, UK)||David Matthews||Neat Christie whodunnit - look at the character name!|
|1982||For the Term of His Natural Life (TV mini-series, Australia)||Major Vickers||Prison drama.|
|1982||Gavilan (TV, US)||Milo Bentley|
|1982||This is Spinal Tap (Film, UK)||Sir Denis Eaton-Hogg||Cult documentary following the fictional rock group. Patin a cameo appearance and only about two lines of dialogue, though originally was to have played a larger role in teh proceedings.|
|1983||The Return of the Man from UNCLE (Film, USA)||Sir John Raleigh||Michael "Equalizer" Sloan's revival of the classic sixties show which was arguably America's finest answer to The Avengers. And directed by none other than Ray Austin! I enjoyed it but it doesn't seem to have gone down terribly well with true UNCLE fans.|
|1984||Magnum PI episode 'Holmes is Where the Heart Is' (TV, US)||David Worth/Chee/Chinese Doctor||Enjoyable, long-running (eight years?) 'tec series with Tom Selleck cruising around in a Ferrari – far more charm, style, wit and plot variety than the fashion-shop dummies from Miami Vice! But the biggest problem Selleck had to face was the thousands of adoring female fans that would invade the film sets! Loved the title theme, too!|
|1984||Murder She Wrote episode 'Sing a Song of Murder' (TV, US)||Oliver Trumbell||Another long-running 'tec series – but this one was one big yawn for me. Not enough humour, action, violence or handbrake turns.... oh, sorry, I’m thinking of The Professionals!|
|1984||Down Under||?||Does anybody know anything about this at all?!!|
|1984||Empire (TV, USA)||Calvin Cromwell||'Dallas'-type spoof of corporate corruption. Pat says that this was one of his most enjoyable roles.|
|1984||Lime Street (TV, USA)||Sir Geoffrey Rimbatten||Potentially popular TV series about two insurance investigators (played by Robert Wagner and John Standing) under the orders of executive Sir Geoffrey. Sadly the series was axed after just eight episodes when one of the stars, Samantha Smith, was killed in an air crash. Ray Austin directed six episodes. (Many thanks to Doug Snauffer)|
|1985||A View to a Kill (Film, UK/USA)||Tibbett||Roger Moore's last stint as Bond. Also stars Chrispher Walken as the villain with a plan to flood Silicon Valley. I quite enjoyed it but it doesn't seem to have gone down too well with hardcore Bond fans.|
|1985||Shadey (Film, UK)||Sir Cyril Landau||Surreal, disturbing thriller with Pat's character having an incestuous relationship with his daughter (played by Leslie Ash).|
|1986||Club Med (Film, USA)||Gilbert Paige||Lame romantic comedy.|
|1988||Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode 'Survival of the Fittest' (TV, US)||Thaddeus|
|1988||Waxwork (Film, USA)||Sir Wilfred||Horror.|
|1988||Alien Transformation (Film, USA)||?||Sci-fi/horror.|
|1989||War of the Worlds episode 'Epiphany' (TV, US)||Valery||As far as I can tell this remake of the H G Wells classic wasn't particularly successful. Certainly in the UK it suffered the indignity of a late night/early morning transmission and no network slot.|
|1989||Sorry, Wrong Number (TV, USA)||Nigel Evans||Thriller.|
|1989||The Return of Sam McCloud (TV movie, USA)||Tom Jamison||Revival of the popular police detective.|
|1989||The Masque of the Red Death (Film, USA)||Machiavel||An adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe horror.|
|1989||Lobster Man from Mars (Film, USA)||Professor Plocostomos||Thankfully this is a deliberate send-up of 50's B-movie schlock.... I think! Lobster Man comes to steal Earth's air... it's a very worrying time!|
|1989||Blood Sport (TV movie, Ireland)||Geoffrey Keeble||Dick Francis thriller.|
|1989||Twice Shy (TV movie, Ireland)||Geoffrey Keeble||Dick Francis thriller.|
|1989||Eye of the Widow (Film(?), USA)||?||Sorry, I know absolutely nothing about this one!|
|1989||Around the World in 80 Days (TV, UK & USA)||?||Also stars Pierce Brosnan, Eric Idle and Peter Ustinov.|
|1990||Dream On episode 'B S Elliot' (TV, US)||Eliot Stearns|
|1990||Super Force (TV, US)||voice of E B Hungerford||Astronaut turns vigilante after his brother is murdered. Any good? Not sure how many eps Pat took part in.|
|1990||The Ray Bradbury Theatre episode 'Usher II' (TV, US)||Stendahl|
|1990||Chill Factor (Film, New Zealand)||Carl Laughton||Action adventure movie about a criminal organisation intent on destabilising the economies of the world's major countries. Pat stars as the head of a news organisation. (Thanks to Julie Ohlinger)|
|1990||Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (Film, UK)||Dr Watson||This time it's Christopher Lee playing Sherlock Holmes.|
|1991||Sherlock Holmes and the Incident at Victoria Falls (Film, UK)||Dr Watson|
|1991||PS: I Luv U (TV, USA)||Ray Bailey||A strange title for a show about a detective agency. It sounds like an attempt at another 'Moonlighting'. Pat appeared in one episode trying to track down a certain Mr Bond, played by (Return of) The Saint's Ian Ogilvy!|
|1991||The Gambler Returns: Luck of The Draw (Film, USA)||Sir Colin|
|1992||Waxwork II: Lost in Time (Film, USA – aka Lost in Time and Space Ship: Waxwork II)||Sir Wilfred||Sequel to the 1988 horror.|
|1993||Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of London (Film, Canada)||Sherlock Holmes||At last Pat is promoted to Master Detective!|
|1993||Kung Fu: The Legend Continues episode 'Dragonswing' (TV, US)||Steadman|
|1994||Kung Fu: The Legend Continues episode 'Dragonswing II' (TV, US)||Steadman|
|1994||Thunder in Paradise (TV, USA)||Edward Whitaker||Disney adventure series starring that renowned classical actor Hulk Hogan.|
|1997||Night Man Pilot episode (TV, US)||Dr Walton||Apparently some guy gets struck by lightning and the after-effect is that he can "tune into the frequency of evil" which helps him to catch bad guys. Yeah, right. Sounds like typical late-seventies kiddi-tosh.|
|1997||Spy Games episode 'Go, Girl' (TV, US)||?||Excellent all-action spy series that, incredibly, got cancelled after just a few episodes. Pat cameod in the first episode.|
|1998||The Avengers (Film, US/UK)||Invisible Jones||Most of us would rather forget this travesty ("I've seen better film on teeth!" was one critic's view!) as the totally miscast Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman staggered around looking non-plussed. Pat's small part (which was originally going to be considerably larger until it was scissored by Warner Bros execs) was a pleasant interlude, however.|
|1999||Nancherrow (TV, UK)||Lord Peter Awliscombe||Also starring Jo Lumley – the first time they have worked together since The New Avengers, I believe. This is a sequel to Jo's Coming Home, moving on into the 1950's. To be honest I found it all utterly soporific but just managed to stay awake just long enough to see Pat's one and only scene (with, as it happened, Jo).|
|?||Diagnosis: Murder (TV, US)||?|
There’s bound to be things out there that we have missed! If anybody has anything to add to this page then please let Dave know! Thanks!
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