Purdey (The New Avengers)

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For the gunmaker, see James Purdey and Sons.

Purdey is a fictional character in the British TV series The New Avengers played by Joanna Lumley from 1976-77. She was a spy working for British intelligence, partnered with John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt).

When Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell first mapped out the characters for The New Avengers - an updating of The Avengers - the female lead character was to have been named Charlie (or Charley). The decision was made not to use the name, possibly due to the Charlie perfume brand, or the fact a new American TV series called Charlie's Angels had just premiered. Lumley is credited with suggesting the character be named Purdey, after James Purdey and Sons, a famous shotgun manufacturer.[citation needed] Lumley also chose the character's distinctive short haircut.

Purdey is a martial arts expert (learned, according to her, during her time with the Royal Ballet, who let her go for being too tall) and (true to her namesake) an expert markswoman, who is often called upon to use her feminine attributes to distract villains. Purdey saw Steed as an attractive, yet fatherly figure, and there was also ongoing banter and playful flirting between Purdey and Mike Gambit (although the series never indicated anything more in her relationship with either man).

During the two-year run of the series, no other name was ever given to the character and it was never revealed on screen whether Purdey was the character's first or last name.