ONE of the creators of classic television show The Avengers has died aged 99 leaving behind a legacy as an actor, producer and director.

Leonard White was one of the driving forces in British television throughout the sixties - being credited as the one who cast actress Honor Blackman as the alluring catsuit wearing Cathy Gale in the hit spy show.

Mr White, born and schooled in Newhaven, died earlier this month at Abundant Grace nursing home in Seaford.

Friends and peers have both paid tribute to him, remembering him as one of the unsung talents of the stage and television industries.

After serving in the army during the Second World War, Mr White took to the stage, working with actors such as Sir Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave and as an understudy to Dirk Bogarde.

He also featured in West End shows and was one of the original leads in Christopher Fry’s A Sleep of Prisoners alongside Denholm Elliott and Stanley Baker.

Journalist Peter Biddlecombe, from Seaford, who knew Mr White in his later years, paid tribute and said “it is a big shame, he was one of the greats and did not get the recognition he deserved".

Mr White was schooled at Newhaven Convent before moving to the Council School for Boys where he met headmaster Ernest James Coker, who he credited as inspiring him to become an actor.

As a producer he also worked on The Avengers’ predecessor Police Surgeon and the acclaimed ITV anthology series Armchair Theatre.

Great Escape and Guns of Navarone actor George Mikkel said Mr White was the only one who responded to his letters asking for work when he arrived in London “penniless and without professional contacts”.

He added: “I worked only twice for Leonard, but he and his wife Margaret became friends to their dying days.”

Former James Bond, Sir Roger Moore, said: “Sad to hear Leonard White, creator and original producer of The Avengers has left us. He made so many other wonderful TV programmes too.”

John Dorney, lead writer for The Avengers audio dramas, said he “stood on the shoulders of giants. And none more so than Leonard White” while working on the adaptations.

He said: “"His innovations and inspirations all helped mark the series out, and without his vision I doubt we'd still be watching the series today. Thank you for everything Leonard.”