Patrick Macnee obituary: The quintessential Englishman

Joanna Lumley (left) with Patrick Macnee and Gareth Hunt in 1995 Credit: PA Wire

Best known for his role as the quintessentially English and slightly mysterious super-spy John Steed in the wildly popular 1960s TV series The Avengers, Patrick Macnee has died at the age of 93.

ITV News reporter Rebecca Barry reports:

Born in February 1922, Macnee attended Eton College, where, according to his own website, "apart from an active role with the school’s dramatic society, he distinguished himself as the leading bookie and pornographer on campus — and was promptly expelled".

He then won a scholarship to Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in 1941, before joining the Navy in 1942 where he was a navigator on motor torpedo boats protecting the British coastline.

He then had a series of small parts on stage and screen, before moving to Canada where he would work as an actor until winning the role of the debonair Steed at the start of the 1960s.

The Avengers ran for 130 episodes between 1961 and 1969, and was globally popular. He would act in many other roles on film and in TV, before returning as Steed in the 1970s for two series opposite Joanna Lumley.

Macnee's character appeared in all but two episodes, accompanied by a string of beautiful women who were his sidekicks.

The most popular was likely Diana Rigg, who played junior agent Emma Peel from 1965 to 1968. Honor Blackman played Catherine Gale from 1962 to 1964 and Linda Thorson was Tara King from 1968 to 1969.

Patrick Macnee (right) with Gareth Hunt and Joanna Lumley in the New Avengers Credit: PA Wire

"We were in our own mad, crazy world," Macnee told the Wichita Eagle in 2003 when The New Avengers was being issued on DVD. "We were the TV Beatles. We even filmed in the same studio."

Schoolfriends Christopher Lee and Patrick Macnee as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson Credit: Robin Kennedy / EMPICS

For the last 40 years of his life, he lived in California, and "guest-starred and played continuing roles in numerous American, British and Australian television productions".

He is said to have refused to approve final distribution contracts for The Avengers, "until he was assured that the show's guest and supporting actors received a decent share of the profits".

He was pre-deceased by three wives: Barbara Helen Douglas Foulds, an actor and devoted mother of his two children, a son, Rupert, and a daughter; Kate Woodville; and Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye. He has one grandson.