Judo, The Avengers and me: interview with Chris Gallie

12:15 a.m. September 21, 2022

Judo pioneer Chris Gallie has written a book about her incredible life as a competitor and one of the nation’s first stunt women.

Sitting at Chris Gallie’s kitchen table in her Tavistock home, there are few clues to the pioneering life she had. Born towards the end of the Second World War, she lived with her family in the countryside near Slough where her parents ran a pub and her father was a part-time blacksmith. As a teenager, she became interested in judo, which only became an Olympic sport in the 1960s and was certainly an unusual choice for a girl then.

Chris progressed very well in the sport and was soon good enough to have to travel to London to train. It was expensive to get there and she found there was a lot of money to be made working as a stuntman. That’s how she embarked on a career that included working on The Avengers and The New Avengers, Space: 1999, Blake’s 7 and Goodies. His stunt credits include the James Bond film Just for your eyes, Superman, Superman 2 and several Pink Panther movies.

A stunt rehearsal for the Avengers episode Take Me To Your Leader (1969).
– Credit: Chris Gallie

His childhood, his sporting successes and his stunts are remembered in a fascinating book – Judo, the Avengers and me – released under his stage name, Cyd Child.

His first stunt work doubled for Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel in a cult 60s show The Avengers. She replaced a man as Diana’s double and went on to appear in over 30 episodes, later acting as double for Linda Thorson’s Tara King and Joanna Lumley’s Purdey in The New Avengers. The show was ahead of its time, Chris says, in the way it portrayed women.

“It was unusual. You haven’t seen women wearing leather and shaking people. Ray Austin, who was the stunt arranger, was looking for a lookalike for Diana – they had a man up but he got hurt.

“For most of the fights, they used stuntmen from start to finish and then did close-ups with the actors. One day I was asked to throw someone into a fight. I thought “I can do this”, so I did it as hard and as fast as I could.

“Then they yelled at everyone to stop. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to throw him, he was throwing himself – poor man was still trying to catch his breath! I didn’t realize you was just supposed to show it, not really do it.

Chris has also worked in films including several Pink Panthers and the Bond film Just for your eyes where a stunt didn’t quite work out as expected.

“It was a scene where Cassandra Harris was run over by a dune buggy. I had rehearsed with the stuntman, Remy Julienne, but when it came to that, it was her younger brother who was driving. had to roll over the hood. With each rehearsal, the car got a little faster until we were ready for the camera.

Interview with a former stuntwoman.

On the set of The Avengers in the 1960s.
– Credit: Chris Gallie

“When it came to shooting he was driving way faster than we had practiced and I was wearing the smallest bikini I’ve ever seen in my life. He was going way too fast and I took off a lamp head-on with my legs and smashed the windshield with my face.

Chris says she didn’t think about the dangers of stunt work until she had children – two boys and a girl, now in their 30s and 40s. After more than 30 years in the Devon village of Chillaton, she and her husband Pete have moved to Tavistock.

Interview with a former stuntwoman.

Chris’ book was born when a friend writing a book on women’s judo kept asking her about her memories.
– Credit: Fantom Publishing

Her book was born when a friend writing a book on women’s judo kept asking her about her memories. “People have been saying for years ‘you should write a book’. So I decided to try. What’s the worst that can happen?

The result, Judo, the Avengers and me by Cyd Child, is published by Fantom with a foreword by Joanna Lumley at £16.99.

Interview with a former stuntwoman.

Chris with former British weightlifting champion Dave Prowse, later a double for Darth Vader in Star Wars.
– Credit: Chris Gallie

A life of judo

Chris has had phenomenal success in judo. She has reached 7th Dan level and is an eight time British Champion, twice European Women’s Judo Champion and world number one.

The Budokwai member was also the first woman to be allowed to train with the men’s elite and the first British woman to achieve 5th Dan and 6th Dan.

She is a former head coach of the ladies of Budokwai, the oldest Japanese martial arts club in Europe. She shares her passion for the sport at the Drake Judo Club in Plymouth where she is Vice President.