The Avengers

Season 4 Episode 26

Honey For the Prince

Aired Unknown Mar 26, 1966 on ITV
out of 10
User Rating
22 votes

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Episode Summary

Honey For the Prince
Steed and Emma return from a party to find a dying agent in Steed's flat. What is the connection between honey, a firm which makes fantasies to order and the oil deal promised by a visiting Bavarian Prince?

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  • Great powers, Arab prince, oil: this Avengers episode has all the makings of trouble, but it's played mainly for laughs. A strong supporting cast fills the quota of eccentrics. Audreyesque Diana Rigg can't fill a bustier, but she's high spirited.moreless

    <p>* Spoilers *</p>

    <p> The final black-and-white installment, this is one of the most fully realized episodes of ‘The Avengers,’ although it’s strictly light comedy and so will not appeal to those looking for straightforward action. But the clever script, good supporting turns and/or scantily clad Diana Rigg make it memorable for many viewers.</p>

    <p> By now, Patrick Macnee’s agent-about-town John Steed is impeccable, a smooth and seamless performance. As posh adventuress Emma Peel, Diana Rigg is a full partner in battling nefarious masterminds. She takes center stage in this installment. The chemistry between the actors and their characters is apparent from their first scene, which shows the two playfully returning to Steed’s flat apparently after a party. We’ve already seen two men shot up in a Middle Eastern room, and sure enough one of them staggers into Steed’s place, mumbles some clues and dies. All par for the course.</p>

    <p> But Brian Clemens wrote any of the best _ and a few of the worst _ Avengers scripts and this time his typewriter was in full flight of fancy. In the course of their investigation, Steed and Mrs. Peel will encounter a bee surgeon, a very fanciful entreprenuer, a fey hitman, a cricket-loving prince and a pleasure-loving ne’er-do-well. </p>

    <p> Anytime someone has a fantasy of being ‘chief eunuch in a harem,’ there are issues to be explored, and the bit players have a great time muddying the mystery further. Ron Moody, an occasional visitor to the show, has his best role as Ponsonby-Hopkirk, proprietor of Quite, Quite Fantastic, a dream emporium and the obvious forerunner of ‘Fantasy Island.” Ponsonby-Hopkirk and his business are quite benign, even if he doesn’t quite grasp the implications of arranging a fantasy assassination. Moody is at his best exhorting a killer to put more emotion into the presumed pretense.</p>

    <p> Ken Parry also stands out as honey shop owner B Bumble, who looks like one of his charges. But how viewers take this may depend on their tolerance for whimsy. That’s even more true with Zia Mohyeddin as the prince of fictional Barabia, whose Anglophilia and low-key misogyny may be true to life however comedic the context.</p>

    <p> One of the best lines I've read about ‘The Avengers’ is that it works best when the villains show a sense of humor, not when they are supposed to be funny. George Pastell makes Arkadi a sybaritic bon vivant, a sort of non-British version of John Steed. Cajoling Roland Curran as his henchman Vincent, Arkadi mimics the somewhat manipulative relationship Steed enjoys with Mrs. Peel. It doesn’t take much effort for Steed to talk her into dangerous situations, or out of many clothes. Both points are true of this episode.</p>

    <p> As often happened, Macnee sits out much of the action. Although close-ups of the actor are inserted into an early fight scene, he generally left the heavy lifting to his co-stars. Stunt people handled most of that for Diana Rigg as well, but she at least participated in the fight scenes, especially here.</p>

    <p> Steed convinces Mrs. Peel, as one reviewer put it, to go under not very much cover in Prince Ali’s harem. To do that, she has to do a dance of six veils in what was for the era very skimpy garb. In fact, in the prudish US, censors insisted Diana Rigg wear a jewel to prevent their conservative religious viewers from actually seeing a human navel on screen.</p>

    <p> Wearing wispy Turkish trousers, little panties and a tiny bustier, Rigg performs an energetic if amateurish dance and a fast-paced if stagy fight scene. Again, viewer reactions depend on personal taste. In no sense are the dance or the fight convincing, but they are high-spirited. Although TV Guide editors chose her as the sexiest woman ever on television, her bustier exposes Diana Rigg as a contender for the dubious title of flattest woman in television history; even bent over to the waist, she has no cleavage. For those who prefer a different angle, however, her low-riding trousers show Rigg does have cleavage in the rear.</p>

    <p> This may strike some readers as sacrilege, but Diana Rigg resembles Audrey Hepburn here. Usually, Rigg’s arch performing style is the antithesis of Hepburn’s sincerity, but in this case Rigg seems to be winking at the audience rather than condescending to it. While Hepburn’s classic personal style set a standard, Rigg’s mod gear was trend-setting in its era. Of course, no one would expect the classy Audrey to be doing hoochie-koochie dances and scimitar fights, but Rigg nevertheless performs with self-aware panache. Tugging up those sagging pants, she's endearing.</p>

    <p> Physically, Diana was probably 15 pounds heavier than Audrey and so can’t compete with Hepburn’s wasp waist or tight buns. And if she’s graceful and attractive she's no match for Audrey’s delicate beauty. But otherwise they're very similar, something that's not altogether obvious when Rigg is in her usual kit of catsuit and padded bra. In a harem outfit emphasizing her long legs, exceptionally broad shoulders and almost non-existent tiny bosom, Diana Rigg presents the same silhouette as Hepburn.</p>

    <p> In this comparison, Rigg falls about 10 percent short in all categories, but 90 percent of Audrey Hepburn is still pretty good. The same can be said for this episode. It may not be the best action-adventure spy show ever, but taken on its own terms, ‘Honey for the Prince’ is charming and engaging. If you’re in the mood for fluff that respects your intelligence, it’s well worth your time.</p>moreless
Richard Graydon

Richard Graydon

George Reed

Guest Star

Carmen Dene

Carmen Dene

Eurasian Girl

Guest Star

Ken Parry

Ken Parry

B. Bumble

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • The closing sequence of this episode sees Steed and Mrs. Peel depart on what appears to be a magic carpet. The carpet is actually on the roof of a moving van.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • The Quite Quite Fascinating Inc. needs to think of more original fantasies where Steed is concerned.
      Ponsonby-Hopkirk: You're a secret agent. Yes indeed, ideal for you. License to kill, pitting your wits against a diabolical mastermind. Make a change from your everyday humdrum existence.
      Steed: (Laughing) Yes, certainly make a change.

    • Mrs. Peel dents Mr. Bumble's enthusiasm for bees.
      Mr. Bumble: Our six legged friends are very versatile you know. I have three hundred and sixty five different kinds of honey. Just imagine, breakfast toast for a whole year and never the same flavour twice.
      Mrs. Peel: Except in a Leap Year.
      Mr. Bumble: (Looking very deflated) Oh, quite so.

  • NOTES (1)