Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

In the early nineties I interviewed Linda Thorson who portrayed Tara King, John Steed’s third assistant in ‘The Avengers’ series. She was back in the spotlight 25 years after her original appearances in the series when all 33 episodes of the Tara King episodes were being screened on the Bravo satellite and cable TV channel. I wrote:

Canadian actress Linda Thorson, who played Tara, was recently in London for the new releases. A lady with opalescent green eyes, the 46-yearold actress crosses her shapely limbs (she’s pleased to have nice legs – she believes they were the result of her being Ontario’s figure skating champion when she was 12), and recalls the classic series she joined when she was a 20-year-old, straight out of RADA. Linda had originally been slated to appear in the film ‘Sinful Davey’ but, over dinner, director John Huston revealed she’d lost the part because of her height (5ft 8½”) which made her too tall for the leading man, John Hurt.

To soften the blow, Huston arranged for her to audition for the Diana Rigg replacement in ‘The Avengers'. Two hundred actresses auditioned for the role and were eventually pruned down to three: Tracey Read, Mary Peach and Linda. She believes her athletic prowess (apart from being a figure skating champion, she was a swimmer and a runner) clinched the decision and she was delighted to find she could pick the name of her character herself. She named her ‘Tara’ from ‘Gone With The Wind’ and ‘King’ from ‘King and Country'.

Initially, the producers attempted to alter her looks, dying her hair blonde – but with so much bleach that one morning she awoke and found her hair had fallen out on her pillow – and she had to wear wigs for several episodes until her hair grew back! She smiles in a way which shapes her lips into a cupid’s bow, rolls her eyes and recalls the choreographed fight scenes, in which she performed a lot of her own stunts. and recoils at the thought of one stunt girl who had such a large behind that Linda worried people might think she was the one with an enormous beam!

Linda also has fond memories of Patrick MacNee, so supportive and helpful, particularly when she encountered a degree of sexual harassment on the job – which Patrick soon put a stop to when he found out about it. She had no regrets about still being labelled as ‘the Avengers girl’ a quarter of a century after the series ended, as she has such affection for the show, and was fortunately not typecast, continuing to appear on stage, television and in movies ever since.

Her affection for ‘The Avengers’ and the knowledge that cult and classic TV is now big business, has inspired her to become an entrepreneur and restaurateur – and next year she will be opening a theme restaurant in London – The Avengers Studio Kafe. Just as the Hard rock Cafe plays tribute to Rock music and Planet Hollywood to the movies, Linda’s place will be devoted to cult TV. Apart from staff dressed in the style of ‘The Avengers’ and clips from the series being continually screened, there will be memorabilia from other classic shows such as ‘The Saint’, ‘The Prisoner’ and ’Danger Man'.

Notes: Linda was born Linda Robinson on June 18th 1947 in Toronto, Canada. She moved to Britain in 1965 to train as a dancer and also became a teen student at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts). Linda appeared in 33 episodes of ‘The Avengers’ during 1968 - 69. Since that time she has worked continually in films, on the stage and in television, her latest film was released in 2012.

She received a BAFTA Award in 2000 for her ‘Avengers’ role, the Theatre World Award in 1982 for her performance on Broadway in ‘Steaming’ and a Drama Desk Award for her appearance in ‘Voices Off'. The scores of television appearances she has made on both sides of the Atlantic include, ‘St Elsewhere’, ‘The Equalizer’, ‘Dynasty’, ‘Star Trek: the Next Generation’, ‘Kung Fu: The Legend Continues’, ‘Law and Order’, ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Silent Witness'.

Her professional name is based upon her first married name, Mrs Barry Bergthorson and she has performed in over fifty dramatic and musical stage productions, including five appearances on Broadway. Linda was dated by Frank Sinatra, who became Godfather to her son Trevor, and she has been married four times, latterly to production designer Gavin Mitchell since 20th November 2005.

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry               Original Graphics SixtiesCity     Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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