The Frighteners (The Avengers)

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"The Frighteners"
The Avengers episode
The Avengers The Frighteners.jpg
Screen title
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 15
Directed by Robert Fuest
Written by Berkely Mather
Produced by Leonard White
Featured music Laurie Johnson, John Dankworth (theme)
Production code 1-15
Original air date 27 May 1961 (1961-05-27)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of The Avengers episodes

The Frighteners is the fifteenfth episode of the first series of the 1960s cult British spy-fi television series The Avengers, starring Ian Hendry, Patrick Macnee and Ingrid Hafner, and guest starring Willoughby Goddard, Philip Gilbert, Stratford Johns, Doris Hare, Neil Wilson and Philip Locke. It originally aired on ABC on 27 May 1961. For many years it was the only full episode which remained from the first series until the earlier episode Girl on the Trapeze was discovered in 2001 and the later episode The Tunnel of Fear in 2016. The Frightners was directed by Robert Fuest, designed by James Goddard, and written by Berkely Mather.


A wealthy businessman, Sir Thomas Weller, hires criminal thug racket named "The Frighteners" led by "The Deacon" to persuade his daughter's ill-suited boyfriend Jeremy de Willoughby to leave her. Weller is aware that de Willoughby is a gold digger. Dr. Keel and Steed rescue de Willoughby from the gang and Steed investigates him, whilst Keel investigates the organization. Concurring with Waller that de Willoughby is a scoundrel, it is up to Steed and Dr. Keel to frighten his daughter away from de Willoughby.



Production for the episode was completed on 25 May 1961.[1] The episode is the first full episode which remains intact from the first series.[2] For many years it was the only full episode which remained from the first series until Girl on the Trapeze was discovered in 2001[2][3] and Tunnel of Fear in 2016.[citation needed]


The episode premiered on ABC on 27 May 1961.[4] Anthony Aldgate described the episode as a "tantalising glimpse into the content and style of the first season and suggests that, at least to begin with, the series was a low-key crime drama which bore little relation to the fantasy and stylistic excess that was to follow in later years... It is essentiially a thick-ear melodrama, featuring seedy underworld locations and villains with a nice line in slang dialogue ("I'm out on ticket, see? One lumber on me present form an' I'll be eatin' porridge till it's comin' out of me flippin' ears)."[2] Aldgate also highlights that the episode does much to inform the viewers that Steed and Dr. Keel are still not professional detectives.[2] The The Avengers Forever! website described "The Frighteners" as technically being " just a teeny bit sloppy around the edges, with a few bumped cameras and fluffed lines (Keel: "I want two answers to two facts!").[1] Not to mention the audio is rather muffled which, given that Ian Hendry tends to mumble, makes for some spotty dialog." However they consider Philip Locke to be one of their favorite guest stars, playing a "shifty-eyed" "young, brass-knuckled ruffian."[1]


  1. ^ a b c "The Avengers Forever:The Frighteners". The Avengers Forever!. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Aldgate, Anthony (15 May 2000). Windows on the sixties: exploring key texts of media and culture. I.B.Tauris. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-86064-383-5. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Britton, Wesley Alan (2004). Spy Television. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-275-98163-1. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Abbott, Stacey (10 March 2010). The Cult TV book. I.B.Tauris. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-84885-026-2. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 

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