Gale Force

The Ultimate Role Models: Catherine Gale and Emma Peel

The British television seriesThe Avengers, provided its audience with the first 'intelligent, strong and independent' female characters: first Mrs. Catherine Gale and then Mrs. Emma Peel. These pages will explore the influence of these characters (and their interaction with their male partner, John Steed), on women of the sixties through today.

These pages (currently under construction) will also explore the influence of other women on television - from the soap operas to night-time drama series, from cartoons to commercials. Television is the most powerful medium in the world - what kind of role models are our children and teens seeing? If they are not positive ones, how can the situation be improved?

Women on Western Television: Before 1962

(Although women in the Western world have made significant strides towards equality throughout the years, the same cannot be said for Eastern women still dominated by the male hierarchy. For all the comment about male chauvanist pigs and sexism in the Western world, it is as nothing compared with what the women trapped in certain other cultures must endure on pain of death.)

It was really World War II that helped Western woman - in particular English and American - break out of the straight-jackets which society had placed them in. Most men went off to war, women had to fill the breaches left behind and did so. (On the other hand, German women were confined to kinder, kirche, kuche and under the Nazi system were able to make no strides towards independence.)

After the war, men came home to get their jobs back, and women were once more 'out in the cold,' but the seams of the straight-jackets had been weakened.


The Avengers first episode, Hot Snow,aired on January 7, 1961, and starref Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel, and Patrick McNee as the shadowy John Steed. 26 episodes were made. When Ian Hendry left the series, Honor Blackman was given the role of Mrs. Catherine Gale. The first couple of scripts for the second season had been written as David Keel scripts, and when Honor Blackman took over, only the name of the character was changed, so Blackman/Gale's role was very much a strong and independant one.

The first Mrs. Catherine Gale episode is Mr. Teddy Bear, was aired on September 29, 1962.

Blackman continued for two seasons, leaving in 1964 to star as Pussy Galore in the James Bond film, Goldfinger. Diana Rigg took over as Mrs. Emma Peel.

Continued soon

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This page last updated on December 8, 2001

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