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The Avengers Sourcebook
"Mrs. Peel, we're needed."
The Avengers Sourcebook
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The Avengers Sourcebook

Links to articles on The Avengers

Two Such People: Avengers Fan Fiction
Science Fiction in The Avengers
The Avengers books

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Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry
The Avengers Overview
The British TV series The Avengers began as a standard spy thriller in 1961.

It starred Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel, a surgeon who in the first episode attempts to avenge the murder of his fiance by drug dealers. He is 'recruited' into a special service by agent John Steed, a tough, ruthless operative who at this point does not wear bowler or carry brolly, and is actually second lead to Keel.

The stories are standard spy thrillers.

After 26 episodes it was John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee, who was the more popular character, and when Henry left, he was replaced by actress Honor Blackman, who brought to life Mrs. Cathy Gale from 1962 to 1964.

Cathy Gale was very much a reluctant partner to Steed, his 'moral compass,' for all that she knew judo and wore leather for the fight scenes and was not averse to shooting a villain.

The partnership of Steed and Mrs. Gale was the first time a woman had been portrayed as an 'equal partner' with a man in a drama series, and was quite groundbreaking (and was perhaps inspired by the Modesty Blaise newspaper comic series which had been created by Peter O'Donnell the year before.)

Very few of the Ian Hendry episodes survive, as the BBC had a habit of 'wiping' the video to use them again. All of the Cathy Gale episodes survive and are available on DVD (interspersed as they are with the adventures of Venus Smith, another of Steed's partners, but only briefly.)

Because of the technical constraints of the time, the Cathy Gale episodes are very much 'live' stage plays, filmed on videotape and with cramped sets. The relationship between Cathy and Steed is an abrasive one...although he now carries bowler and brolly he is not quite the gentlemen he is during the Mrs. Peel episodes.

Most of the episodes are again standard spy thrillers, with only a touch of science fiction here and there.

In 1964, Honor Blackman left the series to play Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, and Diana Rigg stepped in as Mrs. Emma Peel in 1965.

The Avengers: Steed and his partner(s)
Partner Years # Eps
David Keel 1961 26
Dr. Martin King 1962 3
Cathy Gale 1962-1964 43
Venus Smith 1962 6
Emma Peel 1965-1967 51
Tara King 1969 33
Purdey and Mike Gambit 1976-1977 26


Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman
In the first few episodes of the first Emma Peel season, Mrs. Peel is much in the Cathy Gale mode, sparring with Steed more often than not. But their relationship soon gets on the right track where they have mutual affection for each other. The episodes also become ever more quirkier and eccentric, as the producers attempt to tailor it to the American market.

It is in the Emma Peel episodes that the science fiction is most pronounced, in such episodes as:

The Cybernauts
The Man-eater of Surrey Green
Who's Who
Mission: Highly Improbable
The Return of the Cybernauts
. Essential websites
  • The Avengers Forever
  • The Avengers Artland
  • The Avengers Illustrated
  • The Avengers On Radio
  • Dead Duck: Avengers Memorabilia
  • and many more.


    Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg
    When Diana Rigg left the series, the role of Steed's partner was given to Canadian Linda Thorson, who played trainee agent 69, Tara King. After one season Steed and Tara were in a rocket that blasted off into space, and that's the last we see of them until 1976, when Steed returns with his new partners, Purdey, played by Joanna Lumley, and Mike Gambit, played by Gareth Hunt.

    Fiction
    Eight books were written based on The Avengers characters, but as with most novelizations they failed to capture the spirit of the original series. Two books were ghosted under the Patrick Macnee name, as well. The New Avengers series also spawned a few book adaptions of episodes.

    Fan fiction for The Avengers is alive and well, and here it is interesting to read what actual fans of the show write. (The eight books were written by professional authors who seemed never to have even seen the show.) Steed and Emma are the most popular characters, and Emma and Steed together again after a brief separation is a popular theme.

    Fan fiction can vary widely, from the amateurish to the extremely well written, from G to X-rated, from good to bad. We present a collection of fan fiction by our own Caroline Miniscule above, an anthology called Two Such People, featuring stories which she believes captures the wit, charm, style and grace of the original series.

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