BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “The Avengers” Theme

BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (BOTB Top Photo)

First of all, I’m not talking about the movies based on the Marvel superheroes. But you probably knew that.

The Avengers was a British espionage TV series that ran from 1961 until 1969. It initially starred Ian Hendry and Patrick MacNee as Dr. David Keel and John Steed, respectively. When Hendry left after the first season, Steed had a succession of partners, starting with Catherine Gale (played by Honor Blackman), then Emma Peel (played by Diana Rigg), and finally Tara King (played by Linda Thorson). Steed was occasionally paired with either Venus Smith (played by Julie Stevens) or Dr. Martin King (played by John Rollason) during seasons 2 through 4.

For the first four years, the show was shot in black-and-white on videotape and featured a theme song written and performed by Johnny Dankworth. It was purchased by ABC in the US and thereafter they could afford to shoot it in color on 35mm film, and the show featured a theme song written by Laurie Johnson, perhaps to accompany the slightly lighter atmosphere of the Emma Peel episodes. A local TV station carries the episodes from seasons 1 to 4 on Sunday nights. Having watched the series on ABC (channel 7 in Chicago) back in the Sixties, the look and feel of the older episodes was an adjustment.

Anyway, your task is to listen to the two different themes from the series and decide which you like better. Here they are, in extended form.

Johnny Dankworth

Laurie Johnson

Your task is to listen to the two themes, decide which you prefer, and vote by leaving a comment, along with a brief reason why you preferred that one, if you choose. Then, I’m sure the others conducting battles today would appreciate a visit and a vote in their battles.

* Stephen has the current list of participants on his site

I’ll announce the winner of today’s battle next Saturday, April 22.

The lines are now open. Best of luck to Johnny and Laurie!

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

17 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “The Avengers” Theme”

  1. I prefer the 2nd version, which is probably the only time I was watching the show. I remember hearing that theme and I remember Emma Peel. Not sure if they were together. In the early days, my parents and brother would be watching TV, but I’d be playing on the floor with all manner of things. I remember sounds from TV shows that I swear I’ve never seen.

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  2. I used to watch The Avengers with Diana Rigg as the sexy Emma Peel. I don’t recall this theme song, but it’s one of those melodies that doesn’t particularly stay with you. Same with the second theme. To me these are more like performance pieces or numbers used for choreographed modern dance numbers. I like the music though. It’s like some of the music that my mother had albums of and would listen to while she was doing housework.

    Tough choice as there is a lot of parity between the two. Guess I’ll have to go with lush strings and orchestration as exhibited in the version by Laurie Johnson.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  3. JOHN ~
    You and I were very nearly on the same wavelength in this round of BOTB.

    Both of these were good, but I think I’m going to bust up this shutout by voting for the leaner, tougher sounding version by JOHNNY D. I prefer the focus on trumpet to the focus on strings.

    I’m curious to see how you will vote on my Battle. I’m guessing you will go with MAS*H, but time will tell. Hope to see you there.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    Check out my new blog @
    (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews…

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  4. I have to go with Laurie Johnson’s simply because it’s catchier. I was very little at the time The Avengers was first shown on TV but remember that Emma Peel was my first TV crush. She was a big hit with my sisters, too, because she was a real protagonist not just a damsel in distress.

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    1. I think I was 9 or 10 when “The Avengers” started on TV in the US, so you couldn’t have been that little. I think Mrs. Peel was responsible for the onset of puberty for a lot of preteen boys…

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  5. This was not as easy a choice as I had thought. I like the “grandness” of Laurie Johnson’s version quite a bit; it reminds me of some of the great movie theme songs of that era, like “The High and The Mighty”. However, for me, the melody seems to get lost in all the orchestration, so my vote goes to Johnny Dankworth.

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  6. I didn’t know they had another theme song with Va-Va- Voom Honor Blackman but I found the first version almost irritating. I always loved the second version and only knew that one but it’s sexy and classy all at once which first perfectly with this cast.

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  7. I like the Laurie Johnson better. The Avengers was one of my favorites and the Johnson version sounds more like the theme song I heard every week.

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