The Avengers: Kinky Boots

The Avengers was one of the cult television series of the 1960s, starring Patrick Macnee as suave secret agent John Steed, who was accompanied in his crime-fighting endeavours by a succession of glamorous assistants.

Produced by ABC Television, it ran for six seasons and 161 episodes, spanning eight years, from 7th January 1961 until 21st May 1969. The series was initially filmed in black and white, but after 25 episodes, it was finally filmed in colour.

It became so popular that it was broadcast in more than 90 countries and was ranked number 20 in TV Guide’s Top Cult Shows Ever in 2007.

 

Series debut

The show opened with Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry) investigating the mysterious murder of his fiancée, Peggy, by a drugs cartel. Debonair, bowler-hatted John Steed is also investigating the drugs ring and contacts Dr Keel to help in his search for justice and ultimately vengeance.

Initially, The Avengers was a vehicle for Hendry, a well-established actor and star of the earlier ABC drama series, Police Surgeon. However, as the series progressed, Steed’s importance increased and he was soon receiving equal top billing.

He was joined by a series of female assistants, who were renowned for being stylish, sophisticated, intelligent and assertive. His first partner was Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman) in 1962. Gale was an anthropologist in Africa, who was widowed at an early age.

While living in Africa, she had learned to look after herself, hunting and fighting. After her husband’s untimely death, she returned to London to the rather more staid lifestyle of a museum curator – until she met Steed. He recognised her skills and she agreed to work alongside him, fighting crime.

 

Kinky Boots

Gale was famous for her tight-fitting, black, leather outfit (as this made it easier when she got into a physical fight), plus footwear dubbed “kinky boots”. Her catsuit and thigh-high leather boots with pointed toes became her trademark apparel and created a fashion trend in the early 1960s.

Macnee and Blackman even had a surprise chart hit with a novelty song called Kinky Boots, released by Decca in 1964.

Initially, the music for the song was used in a sequence for the satirical television series, That Was the Week That Was, produced and directed by Ned Sherrin, with presenter David Frost. The music played over a sequence featuring the high-fashion footwear.

Macnee and Blackman took advantage of The Avenger’s cult following and released the single in February 1964, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer – who went on to write the English libretto for the musical, Les Misérables.

The song was not initially a chart hit, but in 1990, it was re-released and peaked at number five in the UK singles chart, after being on the playlist of BBC Radio 1 DJ Simon Mayo, who hosted the breakfast show.

 

Recording studio

In a newspaper interview in 2013, Blackman discussed being in the recording studio with Macnee to record Kinky Boots, describing it affectionately as a “nightmare” because her co-star “had no sense of rhythm” and “can’t sing”.

She said there was no chance of Macnee singing the lyrics, because he simply couldn’t sing. So they each had a few stiff drinks to combat their nerves. Blackman recalled having “a couple of brandies” and they decided Macnee would have to speak his part, because it was the only way the song was going to be recorded.

Macnee’s sense of timing was so bad that the producer reportedly had to tap him on the shoulder to alert him to the fact it was his line, so he could start speaking it in time!

Blackman recalled it was a “very funny” experience recording Kinky Boots, adding that the song had followed her around for the remainder of her career. She left The Avengers soon after the song was released to star in the James Bond film, Goldfinger, as one of the most famous Bond Girls, Pussy Galore, alongside Sean Connery as 007.

Are you one of those 20 million women wearing kinky boots? Share your footwear purchasing experiences (any shoes, boots, sandals or trainers, etc.) with the Psydro community in our fashion reviews section.

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