A NEW AVENGER: She's Blonde, 28, and Different
Work has already started on a bigger and better
series of The Avengers designed to sell in America.
The new series has a bigger budget and a new feminine lead - 28-year-old Elizabeth Shepherd. She is a blonde and had to learn judo and karate for the role.
Secret agent John Steed lost his former partner Honor Blackman to James Bond when she went off to film Goldfinger and consequently landed several more film roles.
So that the series could start without delay, Elizabeth didn't take time off to have an intensive course of judo and karate lessons. Instead, she is taught each episode's fight sequences by the series' instructor, Ray Austin.
Elizabeth's role isn't a prototype of Honor's. She is not called Cathy Gale, but Mrs. Emma Peel, wealthy widow of a test pilot.
The leatherwear and high boots will be replaced by strikingly unusual clothes.
Instead of being tough and ice-cold like Cathy, Emma will develop a warm relationship with Steed... and he heartily approves. He says of Elizabeth: "I am delighted that she has been chosen. She is very beautiful."
Elizabeth's new role follows a training in Shakespeare and modern drama at Bristol University. Before that she spent many years in Burma with her parents. Her father is a retired Methodist missionary.
Now that repeats of The Avengers are being shown on British television, there is no more interested or observant viewer than 42-year-old Macnee.
It is nine months since he finished the 76th episode of The Avengers and he is frightened that during his time off he may have lost his debonair touch.
Now that he is back at work again he is playing a new Steed - one who is tougher, wittier and more a fighter.
Interview taken from TV Week, January 16, 1965, pages 2 and 3. Author: Jo Harvey. Queensland Editon, published in Australia.
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