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Question about The Avengers TV show from the 60s


#1

What do you think made the women from this show so iconic?

Unlike Bond girls, the three from the original series plus Purdey from New Avengers really had a certain quality that made them aspirational for young girls. They were partners as opposed to sidekicks, as far as I could see, and that was quite unique for the period where a movie star male was usually teamed with a beautiful mode/ actress in most shows and movies.

Would you agree with this? What do you think made the actors so special in this show and given the series such longevity?

MM


#2

I think that the women were treated as equals and didn’t always need to be rescued by a man. They were smart and capable. They also tended to be Steed’s “muscle” which was quite unusual.

The whole series really emphasized brains over brawn as the key to the good guys winning.


#3

I would definitely agree with this.


#4

Yeah, I think it’s definitely down to their agency and capability, which is highlighted by the one that didn’t work, Venus Smith. She was one of the three rotating assistants Steed had in season 2, alongside Cathy Gale and Dr Martin King (who existed purely to use scripts left over from season 1) and was a nightclub singer with no espionage experience. She essentially just became a damsel in distress or unwitting dupe and those episodes are the worse off for it. Meanwhile, you’ve got Cathy Gale who’s every bit as smart as Steed and doing martial arts fight scenes. There’s no comparison really.


#5

It seems so simple really but of course it was groundbreaking at the time and still not that common today; they were talented and charismatic actresses given powerful roles that allowed them to look good AND be strong. There was no attempt to limit their involvement in the plots to “the girl”. They got into fights, made deductions, stood up to villains and rescued Steed as much as he rescued them.

Everyone came out of it well. It was a hell of a show.


#6

Yeah Todd has it spot on. Not only were they not passive but they were the muscle for Steed, who stood back and looked on much of the time.

Outside the norm now but very radical for years before any bras were burnt.


#7

This thread has rekindled my long-dormant crush on Emma Peel.


#8

I’ve been watching the blu rays of the DIana Rigg era recently and Steed handles as much of the action as she does. Crucially though she’s also his intellectual equal (if not superior).


#9

Yep, it was as simple as that - they were given equal billing and portrayed as equals to Steed.
Emma Peel in particular also got her fair share of the wisecracks, which along with her perpetual smirk made her seem very much un-threatened by everything going on around her, compared to the typical Bond girl.


#10

Digressing for a moment, Bond girls are a varied group. For ever damsel in distress there’s an ass-kicking CIA or KGB or civilian-bent-on-revenge who give Bond a run for his money.

What made the ‘Avengers’ different is that they were front and centre with Steed, not restricted to a few scenes here and there.