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Characters / The Avengers (1960s)

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Character page for the 1960s British TV show The Avengers and its revival series, The New Avengers.

The 1998 film has its own page.

For an index of the actors and actresses who have a dedicated page, see here.


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Original Series Characters

Avengers

    David Keel 

Dr. David Keel

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/03_0001_1.jpg

Played by: Ian Hendry (1961), Anthony Howell (The Avengers: The Lost Episodes audio dramas)

A medical doctor who investigated the murder of his fiancée and office receptionist Peggy by a drug ring. A stranger named John Steed, who was investigating the ring, appeared and together they set out to avenge her death in the first two episodes, hence the show's title (which would rapidly become an Artifact Title afterwards). Steed then asked Keel to partner with him to solve crimes.


  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Disappeared without a trace after the first season. It also doesn't help that only three and a half episodes featuring him have survived to this day.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: He starts out as a happy-go-lucky young doctor in a private practice with a beautiful fiancér and ends up a much more cynical, depressive figure following her death.
  • Decoy Protagonist: He was originally the main character with Steed as his sidekick.
  • Expy: He's essentially Hendry's character from Police Surgeon with a different name. Both characters were doctors who solved crimes.
  • Revenge: He's driven by the need to avenge his fiancée in the first two episodes, hence the show's title.

    John Steed 

John Wickham Gascoyne Beresford Steed

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/9_11.jpg
"Mrs. Peel, we're needed!"

Played by: Patrick Macnee (1961-1977), Simon Oates (1971 stage play), Ralph Fiennes (1998 film), Julian Wadham (2010s audio dramas)

A British army veteran of World War II and agent working for an unnamed branch of the British secret services. In the first season, he investigated a drug ring and helped to avenge the death of Dr. David Keel's fiancée (hence the series' title, which would quickly become an Artifact Title). Steed then asked Keel to partner with him to solve crimes.

Following Keel's departure, Steed continued to investigate crimes and mysterious cases in the service of Her Majesty with the help of various recurring female partners. He also considerably refined his persona and fashion taste, to the point of becoming a Quintessential British Gentleman.


  • Agents Dating: Even though nothing overtly romantic ever comes out of it (save for the Tara King era), he regularly invites his female partners on dates, for dinners especially.
  • Badass Bookworm: His interests include astrology, numismatic, ornithology, biographies, history, but he also reads philosophical books. He's got several bookshelves in each of his flats or his mansion and he is seen reading in a few books during the series.
    • He owns a Marcel Proust which he had lent to his friend Hal Anderson, got his knowledge about white dwarves from a boys' book about astronomy and bought several astrology books in the same episode.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Steed is a very well dressed secret agent, and knows how to kick ass.
  • Badass in Distress: On a few occasions it's up to his female partners to rescue him.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: It's a myth that he didn't carry or use firearms.
    • In Season 2, he brandished firearms several times. Sometimes the gun is his own, sometimes it's someone else's.
    • Most people who definitely got killed by Steed were shot: Steed's double in "Man with Two Shadows", Abe in "The Gilded Cage", "Napoleon" in "Dressed to Kill", Beardmore in "The Little Wonders", Brandon Storey in "Too Many Christmas Trees", Henry in "How to Succeed....at Murder", Z.Z. Von Schnerk in "Epic", Becker in "Death's Door" (single bullet), Farrer in "Legacy of Death", Osaka in "Homicide and Old Lace", Mark Crayford in "Dead Men are Dangerous" and one of the villains in "Hostage".
  • Battle Couple: With Cathy Gale, then with Emma Peel and finally with Tara King.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Unfailingly polite, civil and gentlemanly, but he can and will kick your ass if he has to.
  • Big Fancy House: In The New Avengers, he lives in a country mansion, often referred to by fans as Steed's Stud, because it has plenty of grounds to exercise his horses.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Patrick Macnee described him as a man who operates in the 20th century, but his heart is in the 18th.
  • Breakout Character: He was not the main protagonist of the show in the first season, he became this following David Keel's departure.
  • Catchphrase: "Mrs. Peel, we're needed!" - He uses this to call for Emma Peel's help at the start of every episode in the show's first coloured seasons, as she's always busy with her hobbies. He always delivers it to Emma in unexpected ways, be it through signs, arrows or even appearing in her TV. Laurie Johnson composed a special theme for this very sequence.
  • Characterisation Click Moment: In the first season, he was a hard-edged, trenchcoat-wearing operative with ambiguous morality. During the Cathy Gale era, he started to soften a bit, though he had a casually manipulative streak. It wasn't until the Emma Peel era that his familiar sophisticated, dapper gentleman persona kicked in.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • During the first season his character was a more rough-and-tumble operative than the suave, sophisticated gentleman he became during the Gale and Peel eras.
    • He's quite manipulative and unscrupulous in the Cathy Gale era, which led to conflict between the two. It wasn't until the Emma Peel era where he truly became the familiar chivalrous gentleman.
  • Chest of Medals: "Death of a Batman" shows a picture of him in uniform replete with medals.
  • Combat Pragmatist: A producer's write-up to guide writers of episodes specifically stated that "Steed fights like a cad and uses every dirty trick in the book".
  • Consistent Clothing Style: He is always in a dark suit and tie paired with a bowler hat, although the colours tend to vary.
  • Cool Car: Presumably his first car is a Rolls Royce in series one and he obviously used another more downmarket vehicle too, when the Rolls Royce was "too showy". Then he drove four different cars in series two and three: a Greyhound, followed by a Triumph Herald, an Alvis, a Lagonda. A Vauxhall and several different Bentleys are his cars in series four and five. He drove a Bentley and two different Rolls Royces again in series six. During The New Avengers, Steed's cars were a Jaguar and Rovers.
  • Cultured Badass: He kicks much ass throughout the series while remaining a refined and well-mannered gentleman, being knowledgable on a wide range of subjects, enjoying fine wines and collecting old-fashioned cars.
  • Cunning Linguist: Many episodes prove that he speaks Italian and French, as he's reading some Tintin et Milou comics in French, talks French in "The Golden Fleece" and to "Napoleon" in "Honey for the Prince": "Je vous en prie, monsieur; pardon, mon general, mon brave general... je cherche M. Hopkirk".
    • He speaks in Russian "For Peace" in the Nutski's office in "The Correct Way to Kill".
    • He also speaks German, as he went several times over the Wall; that is because he worked as an agent in East-Germany, but he speaks German less fluent than Dr. Keel.
    • He at least understands modern Greek and has learned Latin and classic Ancient Greek at school.
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby: Perhaps the most famous bowler hat wearer in the history of TV fiction.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He always exchanges witty quips with his female partners, especially with Emma Peel.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: While he'll occasionally use guns if he has to, he doesn't like doing so. This is a trait shared by Macnee as a result of his wartime experiences.
  • Dork Knight: He's quite funny and adorable when he fails at doing something mundane while Emma Peel watches and laughs. He's also a fan of Tintin.
  • Gentleman Snarker: He never runs out of elegant wit.
  • Great Detective: He can go to holmesian lengths to solve a case, even though it can lead him nowhere.
  • Guile Hero : Rather than use brute force, he tends to use clever tricks.
  • Hat Damage: He's lost quite a few bowlers:
    • In "Death at Bargain Prices", it gets shot off during a fight.
    • In "Castle D'eath", it gets squashed in a bed.
    • In "A Surfeit of H₂O", it gets squashed in a wine press.
    • In "Small Game for Big Hunters", it gets stabbed.
    • In "From Venus with Love", it gets bleached a lovely shade of white with a laser.
    • In "The Fear Merchants", it gets damaged during a fight in a gravel pit.
    • In "The Bird Who Knew Too Much", it gets destroyed in an explosion.
    • In "Death's Door", it gets shot twice.
    • In "Game", it gets cut in half.
    • In "Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR 40?" and "The Tale of the Big Why", it gets shot twice.
    • In "The Curious Case of the Countless Clues", he steps on it when sliding down Tara's fireman pole.
    • In "Killer", it gets squashed by Remak.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: He's had several dogs. The animals lived in his flats, but they were not present in all episodes. It's unknown if the animals were Steed's dogs or if they did belong to friends or if he took just care of them. Each dog appeared only in a few episodes, then they "disappeared" into thin air.
    • He already had a dog, a Great Dane called Puppy, in series one as seen in "Ashes of Roses", where a big dog enters Dr. Keel's surgery with Steed. This first Great Dane - the dog's real name was "Juno"- was female like all other dogs of Steed. Later in the episode, Keel asks an injured Steed if he can do anything for him. Steed answers:
    Well, not for me old boy. (Looks at dog) There is a little thing. She usually has, er...goes for a walk about this time, you know.
    Keel looks at the dog. Puppy looks back expectantly at him.
    • During the Cathy Gale era, he owned four different dogs: Freckles and Sheba were Steed's pets in series 2, followed by another Great Dane (Junia, the sister dog of Juno from series 1) and the third Great Dane Katie in series 3.
    • His dog was mentioned for the last time in "The Outside-In Man" when Quilpie brings two dozen shin bone for the dog (only in the script) to Steed's flat.
    • From series 1 to 4 he was a great friend of dogs and he still said in "The £50,000 Breakfast" that he is an "Englishman, therefore...a dog lover", but the dogs were not longer allowed to live in his flat from series 5 on.
    • He once owned another dog, a Borzoi, a Russian wolfhound, as he told Clover, the butler in "The £50,000 Breakfast":
    What a marvellous dog. I used to have one myself. They need an awful lot of exercise of course.
    • In "Take Me to Your Leader", he tells Tara that there is no room in his flat for the wonder dog Fang.
  • Hero's Classic Car: He has a nice collection of vintage cars. From the fourth season on, Steed's signature cars were six vintage green 1926–1928 Bentley racing or town cars, including Blowers and Speed Sixes (although, uniquely, in "The Thirteenth Hole" he drives a Vauxhall 30-98). In the final season he drove two yellow Rolls Royces — a 1923 Silver Ghost and a 1927 New Phantom.
  • Iconic Outfit: His tailor-made costumes, bowler hat and umbrella.
  • Improvised Weapon: Most of the time, he uses whatever is in hand for a weapon: from a shoe to the telephone, he's pretending to have an explosive cigarette, smashes his opponent with a giant bridge card, a comic posters, a pot of hot coffee, dust wiper, the hood of a car, a pot of boiling oil, a book or a spear...
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone always addresses him by "Steed" or "Mr. Steed".
  • Majorly Awesome: He served in the British Intelligence Corps in World War II, earning the rank of Major.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: He enjoys very refined (and expensive) things in life, such as fine wines (Champagne in particular), and he owns an old cars collection.
  • Married to the Job: He's unmarried and clearly dedicated to his job. In "House of Cards", he says:
    Did I ever tell you about my marriage, my one and only marriage? I married a job, I married a profession. I've been very faithful.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: According to a fictionalized biography by Roger Davies in fanzine On Target Volume 2, Issue 4, pages 3, he was the youngest of eight children, and he had seven older sisters.
    • Plus, there's this dialogue from the script of "The White Dwarf":
    Cathy:...What would you do if someone came bursting in here and accused your brother of perpetrating a swindle?
    Steed: I only had sisters.
  • Master Swordsman: He's quite adept at fencing, though most of the time he isn't doing it for fun, but has to defend himself with everything, such as a rapier, a sword, a foil, a saber, a fly whisk...
  • Meaningful Name: Given his last name, he loves horses. He plays polo, had some polo ponies and a few other horses. His mansion Steed Stud Farm has its own stables, which can be seen in "To Catch a Rat".
    • Obviously, he owned some price winning jumping or racing horses, as there is a collection of rosette ribbons visible which are fixed at the photos of his horses in "House of Cards". The horses were awarded a first price (blue ribbon) and with two prices for the second place (red rosettes).
  • Must Have Caffeine: He takes it black in "The Removal Men" but with sugar in other episodes.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The "Wickham Gascoyne Beresford" parts of his name were never pronounced in the series. They originated in the 1971 stage play that was written by Brian Clemens and Terence Feely and starred Simon Oates as Steed.
  • Never Gets Drunk: The now-defunct gamerjargon.com website defined "John Steed" as "to consume insane quantities of alcohol in a short period of time and not be in the least affected"
  • Nice Guy: A genuinely charming, polite and well-mannered Quintessential British Gentleman... but if you're one of the bad guys, Beware the Nice Ones.
  • Nice Hat: His iconic hat. He wears different hats in the colour seasons: black, dark blue, dark grey, grey, brown, light brown and white (bleached) ones.
    • Benson and Sons Ltd, now Arthur Benson, made some of his bowlers. He also bought some from Hemming's and Paul in St. James for 10 Guineas the hat and from Herbert Johnson & Sons (the brown bowler in series 5), London, and from Barnaby and Sons.
  • Old Friends: He knows a lot of old acquaintances, and they're generally doomed.
  • Outdated Outfit: He wears a bowler hat and old-fashioned suits, to match his classic cars and generally old-fashiond style.
  • Parasol of Pain: Steed's iconic umbrella conceals a Sword Cane, but he doesn't always feel the need to draw it.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Especially blatant with Emma Peel.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: British, polite, charming and a force to be reckoned with.
  • Real Men Cook:
    • He makes salad for Cathy in "The White Dwarf" and "The Gilded Cage".
    • In "Death à la Carte", he goes undercover as a chef de viande named Sebastian Stonemartin. While Sebastian's specialities are supposed to be "Canard d'organe" and "Faisan a la langue docienne", eggs seems to be the only food that Steed is capable to prepare as he serves the emir poached eggs instead of scrambled.
    • In "Death at Bargain Prices", he describes a Stilton recipe while he's flirting with the girl at the cheese shop:
    I'll take half an ounce (of Stilton), one tomato, two egg whites, handful of chives, half an onion, and a squeeze of lemon. Pour in pint and half of Burgundy, add three pounds of best steak and leave to marinate
    • He served Emma turtle soup and oysters in "The Winged Avenger" and used his Rolls Royce's engine to cook the fillet for Tara in "All Done With Mirrors".
  • Resemblance Reveal: In Mrs. Peel's last episode, her missing husband turned out to be still alive. He didn't appear in person until the final scene, at which point he was revealed to look exactly like Steed. What this might imply about Emma's reasons for hanging around with Steed for years was left as an exercise for the viewer.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: When he did use guns, he favoured a Smith and Wesson Revolver.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: According to the book Reading between Designs by Piers D. Britton and Simon J. Barker, Patrick Macnee himself designed Steed's suits with the help of tailor Bailey and Weatherill of Regent Street (London).
  • Shoe Phone: His umbrella contains knock-out gas.
  • Sleek High Rise Apartment:
    • In seasons two and three, he lives at No. 2, 5 Westminster Mews. Based on the view outside the window it has to be at least on the third or fourth floor of the building. It consists of a spacious living room, a small kitchen and a bedroom. The living room has a fireplace; on the same level, there is a coffee table, several different chairs or armchairs, at times even a rocking chair or a couch. A service hatch connects the living room with a small kitchen. In front of the kitchen wall stands Steed's fold-out desk. Above the level of the living room is a platform through which Steed reaches the bedroom and the front door. A few steps lead to this platform from the living room. Embedded in the pedestal is a sofa, often covered with a tiger rug. Typical for the equipment are unique items, many nautical instruments, that have a relation to the Navy or the sea, such as several model ships, an hourglass, a compass, an octant, binnacle, navigation lights, paintings of ships, anchor lamps or a telescope or the woolie at the wall.
    • In season four, he lives at 4 Queen Anne's Court, Tothill Street Westminster near Parliament. From his living room window one can see the Parliament and Big Ben over Parliament Square and St. Margaret's Street. Judging by the view to Big Ben, the flat has to be at least on the third floor of a building. The flat consists of three rooms: a spacious living room with a fireplace, a large kitchen and Steed's bedroom.
    • In seasons five and six, he lives at 3 Stable Mews, London. It has two floors with a living room, a storage room with Steed's sport equipments, a kitchen and a guest room. Upstairs there has to be the bedroom, bathroom and possibly a study.
  • Smart People Play Chess:
    • In "The White Elephant", a chess game appeared for the first time in one of Steed's flats.
    • "Concerto" is the only episode where Steed is playing twice a chess game with different partners in Mrs. Gale's flat. He sits over a game of chess with Mrs Gale at the beginning of the episode, and has another game with his Russian colleague.
    • He owns an ebony chess set.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: When he's facing a firing squad in "The Living Dead", he actually lights a cigarette for the man who's about to shoot him, stating, "It's important to do these things well."
  • Supreme Chef: In "Death à la Carte", he goes undercover as a famous chef and proves quite adept.
  • Sword Cane: He has a sword concealed within his umbrella.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In the first three seasons, he was quite ruthless and unscrupulous, willing to manipulate and withold information from his assistants. He gradually became the chivalrous well-mannered gentleman we know and love.
  • Trademark Favourite Drink: Champagne, his favourite vintage being the fictional Meudon & Heim. He's also fond of brandy.
  • Universal Driver's Licence: In addition to his love of classic cars, he flew Lancaster bombers during World War II and knows how to fly a helicopter.
  • War Hero: He served in the British Intelligence Corps during World War II, rising to the rank of major. He earned a The Military Cross for single-handedly taking a German machine-gun post.
  • Weaponized Headgear: His bowler hat is steel-lined, which makes it useful as a bludgeon.

    Cathy Gale 

Dr. Catherine "Cathy" Gale

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/9_11_5.jpg
"So much for the 'homme fatal'..."

Played by: Honor Blackman (1962-1964)

John Steed's first regular female partner. A native of London, married a farmer in Africa and there learned to hunt, fight and take care of herself. When her husband was killed, Gale returned to London to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology.

She was the curator of a museum when she first encountered Steed and decided to work alongside him. She is also engaged in charities.


  • Action Girl: Even though she's much less remembered, she came before Emma Peel and she's very much an Ur-Example of this for western television. She has a black belt in jujutsu.
  • Amateur Sleuth: When partnering with Steed, she helps him solve mysteries, in spite of the fact it's not her primary profession.
  • Badass Bookworm: She has a P.H.D. in anthropology.
  • Badass in Distress: Dr. Gale does happen to get into those difficult situations where she needs Steed to help her or to rescue her.
  • Biker Babe: She rides bikes, a Triumph Speed 500ccm from 1961 in "Build a Better Mousetrap".
  • Boots of Toughness: In addition to her leather outfits, she wore knee-high boots.
  • Bound and Gagged: Ms. Gale would find herself in those many occasions where she would be caught in a bind and needed a little help.
  • Characterization Marches On: The first episode Blackman filmed was "Death Dispatch", where she's rather tolerant of Steed's sexist attitude towards her, which would have been unthinkable in her later episodes.
  • Commuting on a Bus: In "Too Many Christmas Trees", she sends a Christmas card to Steed, while she worked in The United States at Fort Knox, a nod to Blackman's role in Goldfinger.
  • Cool Car: She drives a sports car, an MGA MK 1 Roadster from 1960 (Licence plate RVB 115).
  • Cunning Linguist: She speaks several languages, including Latin, French, and Spanish.
  • Damsel in Distress: Dr. Gale's impulsiveness on cases would get her in many dangerous situations where she would find herself captured and in very dangerous traps and situations.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Her husband was believed to have been killed in the early fifties during the Mau Mau uprisings in Kenya, where they lived on a farm. Since she still wears her wedding ring years later, one can surmise that they were Happily Married. Plus, if Sydney Newman is to believed, she had children who died in the uprising.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She has a very dry sense of humour and a wit to match Steed's.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: A very no-nonsense woman who expresses irritation at Steed's eccentricities, though she does warm to him and can match him in quips.
  • Eyepatch of Power: She wears one in "The Medicine Men" after getting a black eye in a fight.
  • Good with Numbers: In "Trojan Horse", her prospective employer is blown away by her mind-boggling mental capacity as she rattles off an almost too-long string of complex calculations.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: She has a strong penchant for leather suits. So much so that some versions of the series' title, the French one most notably, mention "Leather Boots".
  • Ice Queen: Very uptight, professional and dry-witted, though she does have a playful side.
  • Iconic Outfit: Her leather suits.
  • The Lancer: She is a serious character, but most important overall, she is a philanthropist who is very open-minded and forms a distinct counterpoint to Steed's frequent cynicism, his unwillingness to compromise and she constantly questions Steed on the ethics of his actions.
  • Ms. Fanservice: In addition to strutting around in black leather, "Death Dispatch" has a risque scene of her in a black bra, "The Medicine Men" has her get a massage and a shower afterwards and in "Man with Two Shadows", Steed arrives early and finds her still clad in just her navy underwear.
  • Nice Hat: She wears a wide variety of hats throughout season three, most notably a black top hat.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: If Sydney Newman is to be believed, she and her husband had children who were also killed in an uprising in Kenya.
  • Part-Time Hero: She's not a professional secret agent, she's more of a "talented amateur" who maintains her own career between outings with Steed.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Her partnership with Steed never went overtly romantic. It was her who taught him to respect women, actually.
  • Put on a Bus: When she gets nearly killed in a fire in "Lobster Quadrille", she decides to end her work with Steed and travels for some months to the Bahamas.
  • Renaissance Woman: She's very well educated and interested in different topics: photography, finance, history, science, literature, languages and so on. She lectures frequently on various topics, but is particularly interested in humanitarian projects and has also worked with aid organizations.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Her personality is quite rare, she can be smiling and seductive or dark, cold and mysterious.
  • Trademark Favourite Drink: She's fond of the odd gin and tonic.
  • Trophy Room: In her first apartment are numerous hunting trophies including lions, antelopes, water buffalos, crocodiles, or rhinos.
  • Wall of Weapons: In her first apartment, she has a small collection of old guns from the 18th or 19th century.
  • Widow Woman: She married a farmer from Kenya up on holidays. His lifestyle as appealing to her as the man himself, she married him and moved to Africa. He was killed in the Mau Mau uprising, prompting her to eventually return to London.

    Emma Peel 

Emma Peel, née Knight

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/9_11_3.jpg
"I suppose Mother warned you about women like me?"

Played by: Diana Rigg (1964-1968), Sue Lloyd (voice, 1977), Uma Thurman (1998 film), Olivia Poulet (2010s audio dramas)

The daughter of an English industrialist, Sir John Knight. A certified genius, she specializes in chemistry and had success in industry at the helm of her family's company in her 20s. Her husband, Peter Peel, was a pilot whose plane disappeared over the Amazonian forest. She is a master of martial arts and a formidable fencer.

Her hobbies include various combat sports and a penchant for artistic activities... as well as mystery and action, as John Steed regularly calls her to work with him on mysterious or improbable cases. Thus she became Steed's second regular female partner, and the most famous.


  • Action Girl: One of western television's first and prime examples. She is a skilled martial artist, as many villains she faces find out the hard way.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Like Cathy Gale before her, helping Steed solve mysteries while it's not her primary profession makes her a non-professional detective of sorts.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: In "Too Many Christmas Trees" she dressed as Oliver Twist, while in "A Sense of History" she dresses as Robin Hood and in "Silent Dust", Steed hallucinates her dressed as a Wild West sheriff.
  • Badass Bookworm: It's likely that she attended Oxford or Cambridge, however all that's revealed about her education is that she "wasn't at Roedean or Somerville".
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to Mrs. Peel quite frequently. Doesn't faze her in the bit though.
  • Brainy Brunette: She has degrees in chemistry and ran her family's industries with much success when she was barely in her 20s. Furthermore, she's very helpful to Steed when it comes to solve mysteries and whatever problem gets in their way.
  • Breakout Character: Without much doubt the most iconic and adored character of the show. So much so that the 1998 film, the Steed and Mrs. Peel comics and most other Avengers tie-in media reprised her as Steed's partner.
  • Characterization Marches On: The first episode Rigg filmed was "The Murder Market", where it's clear that the character hadn't clicked just yet. Instead of her usual bright, razor-sharp wit, she is low-key, almost sultry. Other anomalies include her uncharacteristic, rather Cathy-ish lashing-out at Steed and her awkward catfight with the female baddie. It's worth noting that this was the episode that Elizabeth Shepherd originally filmed before being re-cast.
  • Commuting on a Bus: In The New Avengers episode entitled "K is for Kill", she briefly speaks with Steed over the phone and mentions that her last name isn't Peel anymore. Steed replies "You'll always be Mrs. Peel to me". invokedSue Lloyd provided her voice instead of Diana Rigg.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: She has a few things in common with Cathy - they're both widows (though Emma's husband was eventually revealed to be alive) and they both kick ass while wearing black leather. That said, Emma is lot more easy-going and less uptight than Cathy, as well as having a more playful, flirtatious relationship with Steed. Whereas Cathy's fighting style was judo, Emma was into kung-fu and karate. Whereas Cathy was motivated by a desire to help the innocent, Emma just loves the adventure and adrenaline.
  • Cool Car: Her Lotus Elan convertibles (a white 1964 and a powder blue 1966), which, like her clothes, emphasized her independence and vitality.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Professor Keller (from "The House that Jack Built") was already a nutcase before Emma fired him from her company because of his unethical and downright mad projects. He then plotted a diabolical revenge against her.
  • Damsel in Distress: Emma would find herself in positions where the villains would get the upper hand and leave her in all manner of perils and traps. Being Emma Peel she managed to keep a poker face throughout.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Is able to still survive the many traps and perils she's put in and turn the tables on her captors.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The series has become particularly renowned for the witty quips exchanges between her and Steed.
  • Defiant Captive: Even when tied to a chair or facing a gun and hearing a villain patter off a monologue, Mrs. Peel still manages to keep her cool and simply uses her wit to frustrate her captors.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: At the end of the third season, right after Cathy departs, Steed is on the phone to a woman about a job that needs doing. It's very possible that he's talking to Emma.
  • Given Name Reveal: Her maiden name, 'Knight', is revealed in the 1965 episode "The House That Jack Built".
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Continuing the trend initiated by Cathy Gale, she occasionally wore leather suits in her black and white seasons, before shifting to flashier suits made from other materials in her colour seasons.
  • Hot Scientist: She's very well educated in mathematics and physics, writing papers on mathematical algoritithms in bridge and on thermodynamics. She extends her scientific knowledge throughout the series and seems to have knowledge in biology, chemistry, botany and astrology.
  • Iconic Outfit: Her leather suits and leather boots in the black-and-white episodes, then her avant-garde fashion in the following colour seasons.
    • She only wore it once, but her Queen of Sin costume from "A Touch of Brimstone" is also fondly remembered. Diana Rigg designed it herself.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: It's easy to forget that she didn't appear until the fourth season, yet she's without a doubt the most iconic of Steed's partners.
  • Jumped at the Call: She never hesitates to help Steed, particularly when he calls for her help ("We're needed!") in her colour era.
  • Lady of Adventure: 1960s version. Her main motivation to work on cases with Steed seems to be a need for adventure.
  • Loving Details: When she departs in "The Forget-Me-Knot", she meets her replacement, Tara King, in the stairs. A little wistfully, Emma tells Tara about Steed "He likes his tea stirred anticlockwise".
  • Master Swordswoman: In addition to martial arts, she is also a skilled fencer.
  • Meaningful Name: One can read "appeal" in her name quite easily.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Much like her predecessor, she was fond of wearing leather outfits, while "A Touch of Brimstone" has her decked out as The Queen of Sin. In "Silent Dust", she wraps herself in a sheet while posing for a drawing.
  • Nice Girl: Just like Steed, she's well-mannered and always polite, and the couple they form showcases perfect chemistry without ever becoming too romantic.
  • Non-Idle Rich: She's from a family of rich industrialists and never hesitates to help Steed investigate.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Famously sported one in "A Touch of Brimstone" as part of her Queen of Sin outfit.
  • Part-Time Hero: Like Cathy Gale before her, she's more of a "talented amateur". She's shown pursuing numerous hobbies that suggest she is rather lonely since the disappearance of her husband — no wonder she always looks happy to be solving mysteries with Steed.
  • Passing the Torch: Her staircase scene with Steed's new partner in "The Forget-Me-Knot", Tara King, can be considered as one.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Her perfect chemistry with Steed never went overtly romantic. She eventually departed when she found out her husband was still alive.
  • Punny Name: Her name is a play on the phrase "Man Appeal" or "M. Appeal", which the production team stated was one of the required elements of the character.
  • Put on a Bus: She left Steed when her husband turned up alive.
  • Renaissance Woman: Emma is a scientist, industrialist, artist, fencer, martial artist, amateur detective...you name it.
  • Sleek High Rise Apartment: In season four, she lived in a penthouse flat in Hampstead and in season five a studio flat near Primrose Hill.
  • Spy Catsuit: One of the earliest examples in spy fiction, even though it has more to do with her personal fashion tastes than with mission purposes.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: She never wears the same outfit twice between episodes. Heck, she's very much a walking mid-1960s avant-garde clothing catalog on her own.
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    Tara King 

Tara King / Agent 69

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/10_1_1.jpg
"Mother sent me!"

Played by: Linda Thorson (1968-1969), Emily Woodward (2010s audio dramas)

John Steed's last female partner in the original series, and the youngest. Unlike Steed's previous partners, very few things are known about her background. She enlisted at an early age in the Intelligence Service as a trainee, under the number 69.

She considers Steed as an idol, and she is very much infatuated with him.


  • Action Girl: She can kick butt just like Steed's previous partners, even if she's a bit clumsier. The episode that showcases it the most is perhaps "Noon Doomsday".
  • Agents Dating: Unlike the partnerships with Cathy Gale and Emma Peel, Steed and Tara were shown in unambiguously romantic scenarios, and both actors have indicated their belief that the two were in an off-screen May–December Romance.
  • Bound and Gagged: Tara would often find herself in quite a bind...
  • Boyish Short Hair: Occasionally. Most notably in the show's opening credits of her era with the suits of armour, in which she sports the same short haircut and clothes as in the episode "Noon Doomsday".
    • This was due to the harsh dye and bleaching used in early episodes, causing her to cut her natural hair very short
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: What happened to her between the end of the series and The New Avengers is never explained.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: She's significantly younger and less experienced than either Cathy Gale or Emma Peel. Whereas they were equal partners with Steed who enjoyed a bit of flirtatious banter, Steed took on a teacher/father role to Tara. She's also sported the shortest haircuts out of the three partners of Steed. Whereas both Cathy and Emma were both widows, Tara was single woman who hero-worshipped Steed.
  • Cool Car: She drives either a red Lotus Europa, a red Lotus Elan or a Maroon AC 428 Convertible.
  • Damsel in Distress: She gets regularly kidnapped (either bludgeoned or sedated with choloroform). It doesn't prevent her from regularly being a Damsel out of Distress though.
  • Handbag of Hurt: She puts a brick in her handbag and uses it to great effect against mooks in "The Forget-Me-Knot".
  • Improvised Weapon: She often uses whatever things she can get her hands on to fight, to great effects. Such as a brick in a handbag.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: There's no mention of her at all in The New Avengers. Both her predecessors got mentions after they left.
  • She's Got Legs: Many of her outfits are just excuses to showcase her nice legs. Steed's previous partners' legs never had as much screentime as hers, if they were shown at all.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Much like Emma Peel was a walking mid-1960s avant-garde clothing catalog, Tara is one for the late 1960s.

Supporting Characters

    Mother 

Mother

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/03_0001.jpg

Played by: Patrick Newell (1968-1969), Jim Broadbent (1998 film)

The chief of the British secret service John Steed and Tara King belong to. He was introduced in the 1968 episode "The Forget-Me-Knot", at the time of Emma Peel's departure, and would appear throughout the Tara King era.


  • Code Name: "Mother" is a code name, naturally.
  • Cool Car: Occasionally appeared in a silver Rolls-Royce.
  • The Ghost: He was referred to since at least Emma Peel's first episode in late 1964 but appeared much later, in "The Forget-Me-Knot" in 1968, becoming a recurring character of the Tara King era.
  • Home Base: He sometimes summons Steed in what could be best described as "excentric" headquarters, such as a base under a river or in a double-decker bus.
  • Large and in Charge: He is fat, and he is the head of a secret service.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Code Name is "Mother"... and he's a man.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Steed chats with him like he has always been part of the show (he was actually mentioned as early as Emma Peel stepped in), but he was one of the latest additions to the original show.

    Rhonda 

Rhonda

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/01123.jpg

Played by: Rhonda Parker (1968-1969)

Mother's personal aid.


Notable Villains

    Dr. Armstrong 

Dr. Clement Armstrong

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"Exactly. Government by automation!"

Played by: Michael Gough

Appears in: "The Cybernauts"

A genius scientist in the fields of automation and burgeoning computer science. He also created the Cybernauts, and intends to establish a rule of machines over humanity.


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    Cybernauts 

The Cybernauts

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https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/avengerscybernaut.jpg
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lastofthecybernauts.jpg

Appear in: "The Cybernauts" | "Return of the Cybernauts" | "The Last of the Cybernauts" (The New Avengers)

"I think you will agree, the automated assassin was a stroke of genius. Loyal, obedient and extremely efficient."
Dr. Clement Armstrong

Cybernauts are humanoid robots created by Dr. Clement Armstrong to serve him. They are mostly employed for assassinations and kidnappings, and they are quite unstoppable.


  • Attack Drone: Roger, the first Cybernaut, is compared to a "guided missile" in that it is programmed to kill targets who carry a pen with a concealed homing device Armstrong offered to them beforehand. In "The Last of the Cybernauts", they are practically walking drones since Kane remote-controls them.
  • Badass Longcoat: When Cybernauts are sent on operation outside, they are always dressed with a black longcoat, a black hat and sunglasses to conceal them as much as possible.
  • Chrome Champion: They look like chromed humanoids.
  • Immune to Bullets: By virtue of being made of steel.
  • Implacable Man: When they're searching for a target, virtually nothing can stop them.
  • Killer Robot: A karate chop-like strike of their steel arms on the neck is enough to kill or knock out their targets.
  • No-Sell: See Immune to Bullets.
    • In "The Last of the Cybernauts", Mike Gambit tries to karate-chop the head of Kane's remote-controlled Cybernaut. Needless to say, this ends rather painfully for Gambit's hand.
  • The Remnant: A few years after Armstrong's death, Paul Beresford finds a Cybernaut and plans revenge on John Steed and Emma Peel with it. A decade later, Felix Kane finds out Armstrong had a whole secret cache of remote-controlled Cybernauts and uses them to plan his revenge on Steed and the New Avengers for his crippling.
  • Signature Sound Effect: They emit a distinctive "swish" sound when chopping with their arms, to emphasize their strength and the real threat they are.
  • invokedTechnology Marches On: Over the course of the three episodes they appear in, the Cybernauts' technology evolves. In the first one, Roger needed a homing device concealed in a pen to seek its targets (the other one didn't however). The one from "Return of the Cybernauts" just needs a card with a portrait of the target. The final generation seen in "Last of the Cybernauts" is remote-controlled.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Roger (Armstrong's first Cybernaut) needs a homing device on his target to follow and kill it while the second one Armstrong created has a "brain of its own". Steed tricks them into fighting each other by putting the homing device pen on the second Cybernaut. Roger gains the upper hand by kicking the "electronic brain" out of the other Cybernaut's head, and Armstrong is killed in the brawl.

    John Cartney 

The Honorable John Cleverly Cartney

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/johncartney.jpg

Played by: Peter Wyngarde

Appears in: "A Touch of Brimstone"

An aristocrat who heads the Hellfire Club, an organization based upon dressing up in old costumes and engaging in orgiastic rituals and which thrives in "ultimate sins".


    Professor Keller 

Professor Jack Keller

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/00000_00.jpg
"The machine is not only man's equal, but his superior! I will prove it to you!"

Played by: Michael Goodliffe

Appears in: "The House that Jack Built"

A deranged automation technology engineer with a colossal grudge against Emma Peel, who fired him back when she was the head of Knight Industries. He turned a house into a giant computerized mousetrap to drive Emma insane.


  • Best Served Cold: It took him more than a decade to put his revenge in motion.
  • Evil Genius: Just as Dr. Armstrong, he is a brilliant and visionary automation / computer science engineer with very unethical goals.
  • Mad Scientist: He firmly believes in the replacement of man by machines.
  • Revenge: He patiently plotted one against Emma after she fired him from her company.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: He turned a house into a giant automated / computerized trap for Emma Peel. He designed it to drive her insane and even built a Gas Chamber in case she would consider killing herself rather than being slowly driven mad.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: He amassed a lot of informations about Emma, pictures of her as well as objects that belonged to her, and built a creepy exhibition for Emma with them inside the house, going as far as putting an obituary for her at the end of it.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: He designed computers to answer to Emma after his death should she ask questions, and the first ones she meets answer quite accurately to her questions with pre-recorded videos and Keller's voice.
  • Thanatos Gambit: He is already dead and mummified in a glass box when Emma steps into the house.
  • Visionary Villain: He is not unsimilar to Dr. Armstrong with his ideas to replace / dominate man with machines.

    Paul Beresford 

Paul Beresford

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/04_2_2.jpg

Played by: Peter Cushing

Appears in: "Return of the Cybernauts"

An upper class man who befriends Steed and Emma Peel, and even flirts with the latter. Unbeknownst to them, he is the brother of Dr. Clement Armstrong, and plots a diabolical revenge against them for his brother's death, using one of the latter's creations, a Cybernaut, and Kidnapped Scientists.


  • Avenging the Villain: Wants to avenge the death of his brother.
  • Dirty Old Man: As he controls Emma like a puppet, he says she is now submitted to "his every will, his every wish". God only knows what he means...
  • Faux Affably Evil: He is cultured, witty, charming, and all around seems like the perfect gentleman, but in reality he is a twisted man who only cares about revenge and desires a Fate Worse than Death for Steed and Emma.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Steed tricks the scientists into putting the mind-controlling bracelet on the Cybernaut's arm, which sends the robot on an uncontrolable frenzy. The Cybernaut ends up killing Beresford with a deadly Bear Hug.
  • Mind-Control Device: One of the scientists he kidnapped designs a mind-controlling bracelet, basically turning anyone who wears it into a zombified puppet, a "human Cybernaut" in Beresford's words.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Nothing hinted at the fact that Armstrong had a brother in the episode "The Cybernauts".
  • The Reveal: He is the brother of Clement Armstrong.
  • Revenge: He uses a Cybernaut and kidnaps a bunch of scientists to plot a diabolical revenge against the Avengers.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: He could have opted to simply kill Emma and Steed with the Cybernaut, but he wanted a more cruel and sadistic fate for them. Which led him to his demise.

    The Winged Avenger 

Arnie Packer / The Winged Avenger

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/0_111.jpg
"I am the ideal of vengeance against those who the law cannot touch!"

Played by: Neil Hallett

Appears in: "The Winged Avenger"

A comic book author who was wronged by his publisher and went mad, becoming the very comic book character he created. He goes on a killing spree against Corrupt Corporate Executives, his publisher being his first victim.


    Z. Z. von Schnerk 

Z. Z. von Schnerk

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/zzvonschnerk.jpg

Played by: Kenneth J. Warren

Appears in: "Epic"

A mad producer and film director who is obsessed with Emma Peel and wants to create a Snuff Film starring her.


    Stewart Kirby 

Stewart Kirby

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stewartkirby.jpg

Played by: Peter Wyngarde

Appears in: "Epic"

A washed up actor who helps out Z. Z. von Schnerk on his Snuff Film project starring Emma Peel.


  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: He changes costumes and makeups pretty fast between the various film scenes Emma is forced into.
  • Co-Dragons: Forms the two underlings of von Schnerk with Damita Syn.
  • Iron Butt-Monkey: Gets his ass kicked by Emma in several of the movie scenes Emma is forced into, and yet he keeps coming back as different characters while von Schnerk films it all.
  • Large Ham: He hams it up in practically every movie scene he has to play for von Schnerk.

    Basil & Lola 

Basil & Lola

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/14279787063_e41c6f505c_b.jpg

Played by: Freddie Jones and Patricia Haines / Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg (swapped bodies)

Appear in: "Who's Who???"

Two enemy secret agents who get a hold of an experimental machine that swaps minds between two persons.


  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Using an experimental machine, Basil swaps minds with John Steed and Lola does the same with Emma Peel.
  • Unholy Matrimony: They're two evil lovers. It gives us the one and only onscreen French kiss ever featured in the series between Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, though only because the minds of Steed and Emma have been swapped with Basil's and Lola's.

New Avengers Characters

New Avengers

    Purdey 

Purdey

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/03_0003.jpg

Played by: Joanna Lumley

A British intelligence agent and former ballet dancer, Purdey is a martial arts (learned, according to her, during her time with the Royal Ballet, of which she was expelled for being, still according to her, "too tall") and marksmanship expert.

Purdey sees Steed as an attractive, yet fatherly figure, and there is also ongoing banter and playful flirting between her and Mike Gambit (although the series never indicated anything more in her relationship with either man).


  • Action Girl: Like all of Steed's previous partners.
  • Biker Babe: She occasionally rode motorcycles.
  • Boyish Short Hair: The bowl cut is one of her most distinctive features. It was requested by Joanna Lumley herself.
  • Composite Character: She is essentially a combination of all of Steed's previous female partners.
  • Dance Battler: She has a very balletic fighting style that was inspired by the obscure French martial art Panache.
  • The Gunslinger: She is an expert markswoman.
  • Meaningful Name: Joanna Lumley is credited with suggesting the character be named Purdey after James Purdey & Sons, a famous shotgun manufacturer.
  • Only One Name: During the two-year run of The New Avengers, no other name was ever given to her and it was never revealed on screen whether "Purdey" was her first or last name.
  • She's Got Legs: And she kicks much ass with them.
  • Show Some Leg: She is often called upon to use her feminine attributes to distract villains.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Gambit.

    Gambit 

Michael "Mike" Gambit

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/03_0001_3.jpg

Played by: Gareth Hunt

A former Major in the Parachute Regiment who also had a short-lived career as a race car driver.



Alternative Title(s): The Avengers Series, The New Avengers

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