I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Avengers (not the movie, but the British television show), but for a long time it’s been among my favourite television shows. Combining sly British humour, with the format of a spy show, the Avengers is a surreal, and hilarious experience. By far the best episodes happen to be the matching of Steed, with Emma Peel. Mrs. Peel was played by the incomparable British stage actress, Diana Rigg who’s probably most famous as James Bond’s wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She is truly the modern woman of her era, and her redefining of the woman’s role as a strong, independent and intelligent person are still revolutionary. In many ways, my introduction to her changed me, however minutely. I looked up to her, and wanted to be like her… I even still try to emulate her unique style. SO, for today a list!
Top five reasons why Emma Peel is my hero
5) Her Voice
I’m a sucker for most accents from the United Kingdom, but even amongst the Brits’ Diana Rigg has a uniquely sensual (although not in the sense of a Marilyn Monroe voice), and… forgive my lack of words, high class without being uppity. Really, I can’t do it justice by trying to explain it. Youtube her, or better yet rent the show!
4) She was a hottie and had the style to match
This shouldn’t be a defining factor, but I can’t deny it, Diana Rigg/Emma Peel was hot. She had a perfect body, muscular, in shape, and yet extremely feminine. The makers of the show took nearly every opportunity to have her show it off, and very often she was dressed in almost nothing. Yet, even as a dominatrix her sexuality was never cheap. She was incredibly confidant, and it really added to her appeal. She also has a very beautiful and expressive face. Even her name was a play on words, in the Brit movie industry there was an expression “M-Appeal”, or “man-appeal”. If you don’t get it, say the words out loud. Part of her appeal is also her incredible wardrobe, that was quintessentially 60s, but still incredibly modern. She is one of maybe 10 women in history to be able to pull off a cat suit, and she did it often. She also has really nice feet.
3) Mrs. Peel kicked serious butt
Emma Peel was no damsel in distress, not only was she able to stand her own ground in a fight, and often times had to save Steed as well. She was a natural athlete, and had almost super human strength.
2) Her sense of humour
Most of the show’s lasting appeal was it’s comedy; the witty banter, the anagrams, the ongoing jokes (like Emma’s feet), and the double entendres. Rigg was a master at effortlessly delivering every line with the right amount of self awareness, and perfect timing. It’s nice to see a woman handing the jokes, as it seems that women are no longer funny (reference: dumb article by Christopher Hitchens)
1) She’s got brains
Of all Peel’s wonderful qualities, it’s still her brains that win it all. The depths of her knowledge are near endless, and when we briefly get a peak at her apartment it is filled with books about everything from Nuclear physics to self defence. She is a valued treasure for the British government, and many other nations attempt to somehow extract that knowledge from her (they always fail). Despite all her endlessly wonderful qualities, Emma Peel is somehow incredibly accessible. You almost feel as though you know people like her, or if you don’t that she could exist. Much of this is due to the fabulous talents of Diana Rigg, but something has to be said for the writing.
If you haven’t seen the show yet, I highly recommend it. The Diana Rigg years are (in my opinion at least) the best of the lot, so you might want to skip ahead.