John Steed -
Eloquently dressed British spy featured on the fantasy espionage drama THE
AVENGERS/ABC/1966-69. John lived at 5
John Steed and
partner, Cathy Gale
Originally, the Avengers (the collective
nickname for a team of British agents working
for her majesty's secret service) consisted of the
debonair John Steed (Patrick Macnee) who was
distinguished by his trademark derby, umbrella
and sharply designed but conservative suits; and
Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman) whose wardrobe
catered to leather freaks. (Honor Blackman later
left to play "Pussy Galore" in a James Bond
feature film Goldfinger (1964).
When the series was syndicated to America in
1966 Steed was teamed with
Emma Peel (Diana Rigg),
a slender, 5'-8½", karate-kicking widow. Her brightly
colored jumpsuits with lots of zippers were
called Emma Peelers. Emma Peel lived on Primrose
Hill in London and used an Italian Baretta 7.65
"Extraordinary crimes against the people and the
State have to be avenged by agents
extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed,
top professional, and his partner Emma Peel,
talented amateur -- otherwise known as the
The Emma Peel character was best described in
one episode by crazed film director Z.Z. Von
Schnerck (Kenneth J. Warren) who said:
you, Mrs. Peel, a woman of beauty, of action, a
woman who could become desperate and yet remain
strong, a woman who could become confused and
yet remain intelligent, who could fight back and
yet remain feminine. You, and only you, Emma
Peel, have all these qualifications."
When Mrs. Peel's lost husband returned on the
March 20, 1968 episode "The
Forget_Me_Not," a curvaceous Tara King
(Linda Thorson) became Steed's new partner until
the end of the series run.
Emma's parting remark to her replacement was to
remember that Steed liked his tea stirred
counterclockwise (a tongue in cheek reference to
secret agent James Bond who preferred his
Martinis shaken not stirred).
In 1976 the series was revived in Britain as THE
NEW AVENGERS and later in the USA for the CBS
late night lineup in 1978. Steed's new
colleagues included the cool, blonde known as
Purdey (Joanna Lumley) and the highly efficient,
Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt).
Purdey and John Steed
Over the life of the series, John Steed had a
number of associates/partners. They included:
Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry), Dr. Martin King
(Jon Rollason), Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman),
Venus Smith (Julie Stevens), Emma Peel (Diana
Rigg), Tara King (Linda Thorson), Lady Diana
Forbes-Blakeney (Jennifer Croxton), Purdey
(Joanna Lumley), Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt),
Georgie Price-Jones (Liz Fraser), Olga (Anna
Quayle), Jenny Firston (Penelope Horner), and
Inge Tilson (Dora Reisser).
In the process of creating a new
character to fill the void left by Honor
Blackman's departure, writer Marie Donaldson
played with the phrase "Man Appeal." She
distilled it further to "M" appeal and finally
to "Emma Peel."
A motion picture remake entitled
The Avengers (1998) starred Uma Thurman as Dr.
Emma Peel and Ralph Fiennes as John Steed.
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