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4.1 out of 5 stars18
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 5 November 2010
If you're expecting a detailed text book history of the making of the series, then of course this handsome coffee table hardback might not be exactly what you're looking for -- but it's unfair to castigate a book for not being something it never set out to be in the first place. Marcus Hearn's text is concise yet informative and provides an efficient chronology of the show's development (along with some of the flavour of its various transformations in style), with the aid of a blend of judiciously selected contemporary quotes and a brace of evocative behind-the-scenes descriptions; but the text really isn't meant to be anything more than an accompaniment, providing the setting and context for what are the real stars of the book: a fabulous collection of iconic images, all digitally restored from the vaults of Canal+, some of which you won't have ever seen before. Any Avengers aficionado is going to enjoy what rapidly becomes a beguiling pictorial history of a changing era; for the show evolved in such a way that each series seemed to mirror the cultural development of the sixties itself, invoking the gradual emergence of Britain from a black and white world of post-war rationed austerity with the earthy noir of series one, into the vibrancy and splendour of a `swinging' capital of consumer-driven affluence by the time series five burst onto TV screens in full colour. Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg also began promoting the show as a brand, by participating in a round of modelling sessions, fashion shows and lavish location shoots, which, in combination with the show's production stills and unit photography, now forms just as evocative a summation of the decade as the episodes of the series themselves. This book presents some of the most potent images from all of the show's major periods of change -- all beautifully reproduced on some glossy large format pages and selected from an archive of over ten thousand images. They offer a mixture of gorgeous monochrome production stills (from many of the early episodes now lost in their videotape form), sumptuous publicity shots from the classic '63 Honor Blackman era, and trendy photo shoots from the classic mid- to late-sixties period, when Macnee appeared alongside Twiggy (who was modelling Mrs Peel's Alun Hughes designed cloths) and Diana Rigg became an unwitting '60s sex symbol, pictured galloping along a beach in a pristine white catsuit. The Avengers was all about style, sophistication and class, and this lovely book is the perfect pictorial spokesman for it, even without a raft of description and text analysis.
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on 16 November 2010
As with the back catalogues of long dead musicians and shortlived musical or acting careers (Hendrix, both Buckleys, Dean etc) any new offering seeking to shed fresh light on the finite - and much analysed - oeuvre of a deeply loved iconic sixties cult TV series has a tough job to do. Quality of material has to be matched with the enthusiasm of nostalgia. Luckily, The Avengers - A Celebration has plenty of the former to more than permit the indulgence of the latter.

That so many rare and previously unpublished photographs are present in one volume is a testament to author Marcus Hearn's diligent research and the goodwill of the show's official archive. Delights include an unfeasibly young Bert Kwouk, as the enobled King Tenuphon (from 1961 episode, Kill the King), discussing his lines with director Roger Jenkins, and Diana Rigg hurtling heavies towards camera during rehearsals. There's also a touching black and white shot at the book's end, depicting our heroes strolling away, no doubt heading towards new, more colourful adventures.

Much as class room discussion in the seventies often focused on whether you fancied the blonde or the brunette from ABBA, so the discovery of many new images of the Avengers' more attractive co-stars may re-ignite a similar debate amongst those of a certain vintage. Does one prefer Honor's Blackmans, Diana's Rigg, Linda's Thorsons or even Patrick's Macnee? It's a tough call.

If you want another exhaustive reference work with extensive new interviews with cast and crew this isn't it. If you want a visual celebration of the series' original sixties run and a reminder of what a stylish and inventive decade it was, then this is the coffee table book for you. Marvellous stuff. Mother would we proud.
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on 29 April 2011
The Avengers : A celebration is no more than what it claim to be : An history of the show by browsing through pictures.

A great amount of the pictures show in the books are very rares and they have been meticulously restored. In a word, they look great. You got a look on what looked like season 1, you can see the differences that season 2 and 3 brought to the original show, how the show found itself on season 4 to shine on season 5 and finally how it went over its head on season 6.

Gale, Peel, King, Steed never looked better and the book is a pleasure for the eye.
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on 4 November 2010
On its own merits, this is undoubtedly a handsome-looking tribute to THE AVENGERS, containing a wealth of beautifully reproduced stills, publicity shots and candid rehearsal images from this classic show - and yes, there are some truly stunning photos of Diana Rigg! However, those hoping for a rather more encyclopaedic history of the programme to be contained within these pages will probably be disappointed.

The book is divided into sections covering each one of the six AVENGERS series broadcast between 1961 and 1969, but the majority of Marcus Hearn's text is confined to introductory passages about the show's evolving format from one season to the next, which give way to a plethora of captioned images relating to key episodes from each series, and what is said is nothing that fans of the show wouldn't know already.

Certainly, THE AVENGERS: A CELEBRATION goes some way to illustrate the style and the quirkiness which made the programme such a hit both at the time and today, particularly with regard to the colour Diana Rigg series and the psychedelic final season with Linda Thorson. However, for more in-depth illuminations about THE AVENGERS' story, you'd be better off reading Patrick Macnee's THE AVENGERS THE INSIDE STORY memoir or - if you can find it - a copy of Dave Rogers' exhaustive and highly detailed THE COMPLETE AVENGERS, both of which make for a more absorbing and educational read.
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on 16 January 2011
My expectations were far exceeded by this book. The pictures are stunning quality and the minimal text contains an informal description of events during the production of the Avengers series. It is what it says it is - a celebration of the Avenger TV series and not a complete bibliography. This is a quality product and it takes pride of place on my coffee table. I would recommend any Avengers fan to have a copy of this book.
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on 7 March 2013
This is a beautiful book with stunning photos, some well known, others I hadn't seen before. There isn't much text and what there is does not tell us anything new but as a coffee table momento of the greatest ever tv series it's a delight.
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on 25 January 2012
This book is a real tribute to the probably best TV-Show of all time!!!! Beautiful still-images from behind the camera and the set, the actors, I love it!!!
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on 24 December 2012
good introduction by patrick macnee backed up with a host of information and many unseen before photographs.a superb souvenir of a sixties iconic series
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on 20 March 2013
this is a somewhat lightweight guide to "the avengers" series. for those who seek a more detailed book, i can recommend volumes penned by dave rogers and by mr. steed himself, patrick macnee.
the actual information included in this volume is rather bare and minimal. there are some interesting bits and pieces about how the series developed, the various changes that were made throughout its history but i was hoping for something that would have more depth and detail. i was disappointed and annoyed to discover that a good number of episodes weren't chosen to be illustrated. for example, out of the 26 shows with original leading man ian hendry, only about 7 or 8 of them had photos included. not impressed with this at all.
what does partially save this book from being a complete letdown, are the photos that have been selected. there must be at least 200 and for the most part, they are fantastic. i don't recognise most of them which is a bonus as it offers more of an insight into how the series was done and how it evolved.
this was supposed to be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of "the avengers" but i just don't see much evidence of that here.
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I was given this book as a gift without having seen it - I was a huge fan of The Avengers, and have in my collection a rather old and dusty copy of the book written about the series by Dave Rogers, purchased some time in the late 80's, which included a lot of commentary and a comprehensive episode guide. I was hoping that this book would be an updated version of that. Unfortunately, it isn't...

The book is almost entirely photographs; mainly stills from the various series, with the occasional backstage shot. The book is split into chapters, one per series, and there is a brief page of introductory text about each series, but that's about it in terms of information and commentary. No information on episodes, no interviews with cast or crew - there is so much that could have been written about this classic series, but you won't find it in here.

If you want to look at pictures of The Avengers, I'd be inclined to suggest buying the DVDs and watching the episodes, which means the pictures will move and be accompanied by sounds... This book is painfully uninformative, and I really fail to see the point of it. A wasted opportunity - I really fail to see how this book justifies the word "celebration" anywhere in the title.
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