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> Description 
Patrick Macnee played secret agent John Steed throughout the series, complete with bowler hat and umbrella (both of which turn out to be full of tricks). In the first series in 1961, Steed was himself a secondary character, the protagonist being Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) - all but two of these episodes are now lost. The Avengers was a successor (but not, as sometimes stated, a direct sequel) to Hendry's earlier series Police Surgeon, in which he played a similar character. Hendry was considered the star of the series, receiving top billing over Macnee and Steed did not appear in several episodes.

Production of the first season was cut short by a strike. By the time it was settled and production could resume, Hendry had quit to pursue a film career. Macnee was promoted to series star and Steed became the focus of the series, working with a rotation of different partners such as nightclub singer Venus Smith and Dr. Martin King, a thinly disguised rewriting of David Keel.

One of these rotating partners was Mrs. Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), who was self-assured and good with her fists and quick witted. She was unlike any female character ever seen on British TV. Reportedly part of her charm came from the fact her earliest appearances were episodes in which dialogue written for David Keel was simply transferred to Cathy. In short order, she became Steed's only regular partner.

Patrick Macnee as Steed and Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale.Honor Blackman became a TV superstar in Britain with her leather boots (nicknamed "kinky boots") and her high-kicking fighting style. It was not surprising that she would be tapped to appear opposite Sean Connery in the Bond film, Goldfinger, but this required her to leave the series.

A new female partner appeared in 1965: Mrs. Emma Peel (Diana Rigg). The name of the character derived from the phrase "M Appeal" or "Man Appeal". Rigg's character retained the self-assuredness of Cathy Gale, combined with superior fighting skills and fashion sense.

The classic Avengers episodes are generally considered to be those featuring Macnee and Rigg. This era was characterised by a futuristic, science fiction bent to many of the tales, with mad scientists and their creations causing havoc in their wake. However, earlier eras of the show had a much more hard-edged tone, with the Blackman episodes including some surprisingly serious espionage dramas (when viewed through the prism of the later, better-known period). Steed and his associate were charged with solving the problem in the space of an hour-long episode and thus preserved the safety of 1960s Britain on a regular basis.

There was also a notable fetishistic undercurrent in many episodes (most notably the B&W Rigg episode "A Touch of Brimstone", in which Mrs. Peel, dressed as a dominatrix, becomes the "Queen of Sin"), and Macnee and Blackman released a novelty song called "Kinky Boots". (Some of the clothes seen in The Avengers were designed by the clothing designer John Sutcliffe, who also published the AtomAge fetish magazine).

The relationship between Steed and Gale differed noticeably from that of Steed and Peel, with a layer of conflict in the former that was rarely seen in the latter -- Gale on occasion openly resenting being used by Steed often without her permission. There was also a level of sexual tension between Steed and Gale that was absent when Emma Peel arrived. In both cases, the exact relationship between the partners was left ambiguous, although they seemed to have carte blanche to visit each other's homes whenever they pleased and it was not uncommon to see an episode in which Steed spends the night at Cathy Gale's/Emma Peel's home, or vice versa, although nothing "improper" is ever suggested.

The arrival of Rigg coincided with the show's sale to US television. Previously the series had been shot on 405-line videotape, with very little provision for editing and virtually no location footage. This meant that to all intents and purposes the Blackman episodes were shot live in the studio. A number of these episodes were wiped; those that survive are in the form of 16mm film telerecordings (see below).

The US deal meant that the producers could afford to shoot the series on 35mm film. In any case, the change was essential because British videotapes were incompatible with US standards. The transfer to film meant that episodes could be shot like movies, giving the show much greater flexibility. After two filmed seasons in black and white, The Avengers began filming in colour in 1967, although it would be two years before British viewers could see it that way.

In 1967, Rigg left the series to pursue her own film career (which included her following Blackman's footsteps into the Bond movie arena). No farewell episode had been filmed, and despite now being out of contract, Rigg agreed to return to film an episode that explains Emma's departure. This episode, that would go to air as the first episode of the 1968 season, also introduces Emma's successor, an inexperienced agent named Tara King, played by a newly minted Canadian actress named Linda Thorson. Thorson played the role with more innocence in mind and at heart; and unlike the previous partnerships with Cathy and Emma, the writers allowed subtle hints of romance to blossom between Steed and Tara.



Show Description Credit: Wikipedia
 
> Airing History & Information 
Last Airing May 21, 1969
Premiere January 7, 1961
Episodes 160
Network BBC
Format/Time Color / 60 Minutes
Country United States
Upcoming Airs Not currently airing
 
> Cast 
Ingrid Hafner....   Carol Wilson (1961-1962)
Honor Blackman....   Catherine 'Cathy' Gale (1962-1964)
Ian Hendry....   Dr. David Keel (1961-1962)
Jon Rollason....   Dr. Martin King (1962)
Diana Rigg....   Emma Peel (1965-1968)
Patrick Macnee....   Mr. Steed
Douglas Muir....   One-Ten (1961-1962)
Rhonda Parker....   Rhonda (1968-1969)
Julie Stevens....   Venus Smith (1962-1963)

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