Men of a certain age would dearly love to shake Leonard White's hand.

It was the decision of the Newhaven-born actor, director and producer to cast Honor Blackman as the alluring catsuit-wearing Cathy Gale in The Avengers.

Mr White, 94, has just had the first volume of his autobiography published looking back over the first 30 years of an extraordinary life that saw him act alongside stage legends Michael Redgrave and Paul Schofield and understudy to Dirk Bogarde.

He also worked closely with director Peter Hall and produced more than 350 productions for television including The Avengers and the highly-acclaimed British drama series Armchair Theatre.

Mr White believes that none of it would have been possible but for an inspirational headteacher.

Mr White was born in Brighton Road, Newhaven, and was the youngest of six children to a bookmaker father and a mother who ran a newsagent.

His early schooling was at Newhaven Convent before moving to the Newhaven Council School for Boys, now the site for the Hillcrest Centre, in Hillcrest Road.

Here he met the infectious headmaster Ernest James Coker who would shape his future career.

The first volume is called Many Moons and a Few Stars and it is available from or