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Dr. Cathy Gale is a fictional character, played by Honor Blackman, on the 1960s British series The Avengers. She was the first regular female partner of John Steed following the departure of Steed's original male co-star, Dr David Keel (played by Ian Hendry). She made her first appearance at the start of the series' second season in 1962.
Initially, Gale was one of several rotating partners who worked with Steed (the others being medical man Dr Martin King and nightclub singer Venus Smith). By the third season, however, she was Steed's only partner.
Gale was born 5 October 1932. She was an anthropologist who 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 John Steed and agreed to work alongside him from 1962-1964. She is engaged in charities.
The relationship between Steed and Gale was marked by sexual tension of a type absent from later partners, plus Gale and Steed also had a rocky working relationship, with Gale not always appreciative of Steed's methods nor his habit of "volunteering" her for missions. Still, the two appear to have become quite close as the episode "The Golden Eggs" has her actually living in Steed's apartment as she searches for a new home of her own (the reason for her displacement is not revealed). In keeping with The Avengers' policy of avoiding direct references to romance between the two leads, however, it's quickly stated that Steed is actually sleeping at a nearby hotel.
Cathy Gale was considered a trail-blazing female character for British television, displaying a level of self-assurance and physical prowess rarely seen in women on television before that time. Her personality is quite rare, she can be smiling and seducive as dark, cold and mysterious. In the episode The White Dwarf, we can see she's not troubled with the evocation of an imminent end of the world. Her later mode of dress - a leather outfit designed to make it easier for Gale to fight - started a fashion trend, as did her wearing of what were dubbed "kinky boots". (The term became a catch phrase and Honor Blackman and her co-star Patrick Macnee even recorded a moderately popular single entitled "Kinky Boots".) The influence of Cathy Gale could be felt in productions on both sides of the Atlantic; characters considered to have been influenced by her in some way include the TV version of Honey West and the Doctor Who character Sara Kingdom, as well as the character that succeeded her in The Avengers, Emma Peel.
Blackman left the series after its third season in order to co-star in the James Bond film Goldfinger. She was replaced by actress Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, who continued Gale's habit of wearing leather during action sequences until she was given her own unique costuming when series production switched to colour.
The Emma Peel episode "Too Many Christmas Trees" sees Steed receive a Christmas card from Mrs Gale and he wonders what she can be doing in Fort Knox, a cheeky reference to Blackman's appearance in Goldfinger.
Another reference was made to Catherine Gale in the Tara King episode "Pandora", where the names Cathy Gale and Emma Peel are seen on two envelope folders.
Cathy Gale left the series before it reached the popular heights it would under Emma Peel. As such, the character only appears in one contemporary spin-off novel, Douglas Enefer's The Avengers published in 1963.
Years later, however, Gale would appear in Too Many Targets, a 1990 novel by John Peel and Dave Rogers, in which she meets Emma Peel and Tara King, Steed's later partners, and is teamed up with David Keel. The book (which is set in the late 1960s and is not considered "canonical") introduces a romantic attraction between Gale and Dr. Keel.