Observations made by cast and production staff at the time they were making The Avengers...

Patrick Macnee (John Steed)
Introducing his new partner, Honor Blackman...
"This woman is so formidably modern that Steed is going to feel more old fashioned than ever."

TV Times, 14th-20th October 1962

Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale)
First impressions of her role in The Avengers
...
"One thing about Cathy is that she's as tough as blazes. She can take it. Let's face it, we are all sick of the conventional role for the English girl in the English thriller. She sits down looking scared and handing out tea and sympathy. Cathy Gale is new and different."

TV Times, 3rd-9th February 1963

Michael Whittaker (Wardrobe Designer)
Designing costumes for Cathy Gale...

"Cathy is fascinating. She is glamorous. But she is practical too and her wardrobe has to reflect this. That is why I have used such a lot of leather in Cathy's clothes. And culottes–those divided skirts–are just right for a woman who one minute has to look poised and serene and the next could be jumping into a shooting fray with a band of thugs. I designed these in June, a month before the Paris collections came out, and why they did, I found that they were right in line with the new fashions."

TV Times, 14th-20th October 1962

Patrick Macnee (John Steed)
His comments on Whittaker's designs...
"These clothes are new and different and I think they capture perfectly the image of the new woman, who still has to be a woman but who has to learn to protect herself in the world. I think the clothes also capture perfectly the enigmatic, indefinable personality of Cathy. Honor wanted to learn how to handle a gun properly for her role as Cathy so I took her to see a friend of mine who used to belong to the French Resistance in Marseilles. He thought the clothes were wonderful too!"

TV Times, 14th-20th October 1962

Richard Bates (Story Editor)
How to capitalise on the success of The Avengers...
"In order to maintain the already high standard of The Avengers, I invited more than eighty writers, considered over two hundred stories and have read more than a half million words. Every minute of the past twelve months has been spent searching for the best possible stories. I wanted them to be exciting but fun, unusual but comprehensible, different but still adventurous. Nothing could be to good, every episode had to be about something new and presented in an exciting way. I think that on most occasions we succeeded, and the final credit for the high standard of this present series must go to the script writers."

Meet The Avengers, World Distributors Special, 1963

Julie Stevens (Venus Smith)
Recalling an inauspicious television debut...
Julie Stevens, Actress, on an inauspicious television acting debut: "I did once have a part in a TV play but I was never seen on the screen. It was in a naval story. I stood behind a screen and when my big moment came I said 'Lieutenant Madison wanted in the ante-room, please!' "

TV Times, 7th-13th October 1962

Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale)
On her preparations in the gym for the fight scenes...
"I couldn't go on stopping villains by producing a gun. I'm not a killer and at the same time I couldn't pretend to heave men over my shoulder. It had to be the real thing. It's a funny thing, but recently all the actors whom I have had to fight are telling the director that they want to know exactly what I'm going to do before I do it. I suppose they are getting rather apprehensive: let's face it, everyone is afraid of getting hurt. Poor lambs." 

TV Times, 3rd-9th February 1963

John Bryce (Producer)
On how to sustain enthusiasm
...
"We are very sensitive to criticism, and I keep a constant watch for the hardening of the arteries which means a 'formula' series. We must therefore always feel excited about what we are doing. A year of hard work goes into making 26 episodes and if at any time we find it boring, that boredom would quickly show through on the screen."

Meet The Avengers, World Distributors Special, 1963

Patrick Macnee (John Steed)
Discussing his alter-ego...
"The role of this tough and highly professional undercover man, whose Secret Service activities are hidden behind a wealthy and debonair man-about-town facade, was created specially for me and has been developed to fit my own background and personality. Many of Steed's tastes and habits of speech are mine; others are dream projections of the man I would like to be. I am an unashamed romantic who would have thoroughly enjoyed the life of a Regency buck. Steed is dedicated, ruthless, unscrupulous. His mission is all-important and in his eyes its success justifies whatever methods he has to use. Unlike his co-avenger Cathy Gale, he carries none of the obvious symbols of his vocation, such as a gun holster. In fact he uses a gun infrequently. When tackling thugs he fights like a cad and uses every dirty trick in the book. His guiding principle is to knock them out with the least inconvenience to himself."

Meet The Avengers, World Distributors Special, 1963

Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale)
On public perceptions
...
"I have now grown to live with–and love–Cathy Gale. Projecting her image on the TV screen has, I am certain, helped the adjustment of public opinion to the acceptance of women as equal partners in life."

Meet The Avengers, World Distributors Special, 1963

Frederick Starke (Costume Designer)
On dressing Cathy Gale
...
"I read a few of the scripts and found out what kind of person Cathy Gale is meant to be. I thought of her as a female James Bond, alias Secret Agent 007. She does a great deal of fighting so the clothes had to be practical. Cathy is meant to be a fashionable woman. There are occasions when she will need simpler clothes. She has two basic suits and a pinafore dress. She can wear anything so long as it isn't fluffy. She is a beautiful girl with a lovely figure, but an unusual bone structure makes her difficult to fit."

TV Times, 3rd-9th November 1963

Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale)
Fashion choices for the modern woman
...
"I'm told leather drives men up the wall. I like wearing it because it feels nice. Off-screen? No, of course I wouldn't go shopping in an outfit like this. Apart from anything else, I find boots are too hot except in wintry weather. At home I usually wear a sweater, shirt and slacks."

TV Times, 6th-12th October 1963

Patrick Macnee (John Steed)
The thinking behind Steed's wardrobe
...
"Steed's things are light and flipperty-gibbet. I use the Edwardian look–it's different. I have a number of peculiar likes and dislikes. They mean a lot but I can't give reasons for them. I've chosen my clothes on my own instinct completely. The pin-striped suit has been out of fashion for years, but I noticed Angus Ogilvy wearing one just before his wedding. They're fun to wear. My umbrella – nothing special about that – except that it must have a knobbly handle. I detest smooth handles. That's terribly important."

TV Times, 3rd-9th November 1963

Edric Connor (Abe Benham)
Discussing his role in The Avengers episode, The Gilded Cage
...
"I was delighted with that part. There was never a hint or a word about his colour. I loved playing him. Some coloured actors will take any part just to get work – but I like to be sure that the character has dignity before I take it. If viewers see a coloured actor behaving like an ordinary decent human being it does more good than all those programmes about prejudice."

The Stage and Television Today, 25th June 1964

Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale)
How she took to a motorcycle in Build A Better Mousetrap
...
"I felt a bit wobbly when I first got on the bike, the more so as I had to look confident for the programme. But I soon got the hang of it again and it was quite a thrill."

TV Times, 9th-15th February 1964

Marcel Stellman (Record Company Executive)
Trying to sell one of the worst records of all time, Kinky Boots
...
"Blackman sounds a cross between Julie London and Marlene Dietrich; Macnee has a humorous British twinkle in his timbre."

TV Times, 16th-22nd February 1964

Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale)
Explaining how she knocked out stuntman and wrestler, Jackie Pallo
...
"He was supposed to fall into the grave and get out again. When he didn't we dashed to see what was the matter. He was just out cold. At first I thought my judo had gone wrong. Then I realised it was all an accident."

Source Unknown

Jackie Pallo (Stuntman)
Recalling the same incident as above
...
"I want it to be made perfectly clear that this was an accident. I have never been beaten by a woman, and never intend to be. She was supposed to win in the end, but definitely not this way. There was no question of Miss Blackman throwing me. We were not wrestling. If I had been wrestling, I would have tied her up in a couple of minutes. I was fighting her for a shovel. She let go and I fell into the grave. It was about four feet deep and padded, but I must have caught my head on something."

Source Unknown

Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale)
Learning her lines with husband, Maurice Kaufmann
...
"Maurice and I have enacted dozens of scenes from The Avengers at home. But having an actor for a husband does not mean every situation runs smoothly. For one thing, there is the difference between the two actors' interpretations of a role. And since Pat Macnee often throws me lines spontaneously, I must always be flexible and watch for possible variations in the script."

TV Times, 17th-23rd November 1963

Brian Tesler (ABC Television Director of Programmes)
On the decision to give The Avengers team a deserved break
...
"The artists and production team have been recording a show a fortnight and sometimes a show a week. Now we want to give them a good rest for the next six months. We shall begin work in the autumn on a new series ready for transmission after Christmas. Cathy Gale has become part of television folklore, and we wish Honor Blackman the best of luck in her film career. We are delighted that Patrick Macnee is to continue as its star. Next series, we shall introduce some new faces, and many any changes that may be necessary to maintain the programme's reputation as a trend-setter. John Bryce and story editor Richard Bates will continue to be associated with the programme."

The Stage and Television Today, 27th February 1964

 

Compiled by Alan Hayes
Expanded from version previously
published at The Avengers Forever
and used with permission

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