Birth Of The Avengers

Police Surgeon provided a big break in the career of Ian Hendry. Having served his apprenticeship in repertory theatre and several small parts in TV and film, Ian landed the lead role in a new television series produce by ABC Television.

The series starred Ian Hendry as Dr Geoffrey Brent. Its thirteen half-hour episodes were broadcast on ITV at 7pm on Saturday nights from 10 September to 3 December 1960.

The series was created for ABC by Sydney Newman. When Police Surgeon was cancelled, Newman took Hendry and co-star Ingrid Hafner to a new series: The Avengers.

It is sometimes mistakenly claimed that The Avengers was a direct sequel to Police Surgeon, with Hendry playing the same character in both. Although there were similarities, this was in fact not the case. This myth has possibly been encouraged because material relating to Police Surgeon is scarce, and that the first episode of The Avengers aired only one month after the final episode of Police Surgeon. And of course, he did also played a Doctor in both!

Ian Hendry Police Surgeon TV Times Cover October 2nd - 8th 1960 copy

Picture: Police Surgeon – Ian Hendry TV Times Cover October 2nd – 8th 1960

Ian Hendry Police Surgeon The Stage 1960 july 21

Picture: Ian Hendry – Police Surgeon, The Stage July 21st 1960

The importance that Police Surgeon had in the evolution of The Avengers is covered in detail on the following website:

The Avengers TV – Police Surgeon

The article below records the news of the forthcoming series that would provide the new ‘vehicle’ for the recognised talents of Ian Hendry. It would also, of course, change the course of the career of one Patrick Macnee.

Ian Hendry The Avengers The Stage December 1st 1960

Picture: Ian Hendry and The Avengers – Announcement in The Stage, 1st December 1960

The origins of The Avengers has been well documented in many publications and websites. Most notably in the recent book by Alan Hayes, Richard McGinlay and Alys Hayes who have uncovered the lost stories behind the ‘birth’ of The Avengers. An interview with the authors can be found in the following article on this website:

The Strange Case of The Missing Episodes – The Lost Stories of The Avengers Series 1,

Alan has advised us that there is a second book in the works that will provide further detail on the creation of The Avengers, Series 1, as well as more detail on Police Surgeon, which was in many ways the series that was the catalyst for The Avengers. We will provide updates when more information on this is available. Alan also runs a very comprehensive website on The Avengers:

The Avengers Declassified

It was an idea about to happen and the beginning of what was to become a cult British Television show. The photograph below also captures a defining moment in the career of Ian Hendry.

Perhaps the earliest portrait picture of Ian Hendry as he was about to take on a new and exciting role as Dr. David Keel.

Taken by ABC Television at the end of 1960 for use in promotion of their new forthcoming series……called The Avengers!

Ian Hendry Avengers 1961 Press

Photograph: Front

On the rear of the photograph is attached a typed description of the forthcoming programme and the characters that Ian and Patrick Macnee would both play.

And as ABC Televison would have wished. Picture courtesy of ABC Television.

Ian Hendry Avengers 1961 Rear

Photograph: Back


In blue ink (encircled) it reads ‘Ian Hendry 3″ s/c Tel Lancs Weds wanted Tues’. Beneath is written in pencil what looks like ‘Used 6-12-01‘ but most likely it is ‘6-12-61‘.

The main description reads as follows:

Thirteen weeks as ABC’s “Police Surgeon” has brought such a following for IAN HENDRY, who celebrates his thirtieth birthday on 13th January, that heads now turn in the street as he passes and he is in demand for Personal Appearances. ABC have rewarded Ian with the starring role in their new adventure series “THE AVENGERS” which will be seen at 10 p.m. in the Midlands and North commencing 7th January.

In the one-hour series, IAN HENDRY will again play a doctor, but this time he will use his medical practice as a cover for his work in fighting crime under the instructions of secret service man PATRICK MACNEE, who will co-star.

At home with his wife Joe in their converted naval craft on the river at Chiswick IAN likes nothing more than messing about in boats, and he is also turning his hand to playwrighting – he aims one day to direct and write as well as act.


Ian Hendry The Avengers Rear

Photograph: Back Description

Further press articles on Police Surgeon and The Avengers can be found on the following link:

Ian Hendry Press Articles -1960’s

Ian Hendry’s original contract for The Avengers:

Ian Hendry’s Contract – The Avengers

Should Ian Hendry have stayed in The Avengers? Find out more and some of Ian’s thoughts on the issue in the following article:

Ian Hendry and The Avengers

Best wishes

Neil Hendry
Editor, Official Website of Ian Hendry

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Further Reading

A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography:

Read:  ‘Send in the Clowns – The Yo Yo Life Of Ian Hendry’ by Gabriel Hershman

Send In The Clowns - The Yo Yo Life of Ian Hendry

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