Posted by: philosopherouge | August 15, 2007

Watch out for diabolical masterminds…


Emma Peel

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.

Emma Peel



  1. I rented three episodes just for you. I enjoyed them – quite funny… though not as funny as that photograph you got there. Looks like she’s dancing that guy to death!

  2. Dancing people to death is tough stuff, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I am SOOO happy you rented some though, I rented some tonight which is why i made the list. Mmm… Emma Peel

  3. It was until, about 2 weeks ago being repeated, well the 1966/67 season on BBC4 twice per week. It’s very good and Steed is something of a Dandy.

  4. If I had that channel, I would have been all over it. Up until three years ago they still played reruns of it on French television here, but I only got into the show three years ago. Steed is a bit dandy-ish, but still very good.

  5. I’ve loved this show for years as well… Another cool thing about Emma Peel is that although she’s a fine karate champion, she does occasionally lose a fight, even a one-on-one with some dude it looks like she’ll be able to smash no problem. This is far from a weakness of her character or the show. On the contrary. Each fight becomes much more exciting and real as a result, and though she always seems calm and cool, her character comes across as aware of the dangers, the fear of risk is with her which makes her sly wit twice as exciting as say that of James Bond or Arnold Schwarzenegger types whose archness is a result of their confidence in never missing a shot or losing a battle.

  6. Very true, as perfect as she is she isn’t infallible, which makes her a lot more accessible. Good points about the wit, it never occured to me in any context, but it is a lot more slicing in “dangerous” and exciting situations, whereas if there is no sense of danger it comes off as cheesy.

  7. Great post…I had never heard of M’Appeal.

    I think Diana Rigg is terrific. Not only in The Avengers (granted, it’s the perfect role for her), but in anything else I’ve ever seen her in (“The Hospital” and other assorted roles). I just happened to watch “Theater Of Blood” last night and Diana was just as beautiful and confident there. It’s funny that you mention her voice…She has a sort of dual role in the film and you can absolutely tell the other character she plays is her – just from that voice.

  8. She is always wonderful, even in the Muppets… I have to rewatch the Hospital, when I saw it was before I knew who Rigg was, and I remember liking her character although I can’t remember much else. Theatre of Blood looks intriguing, I’ll probably check it out.

  9. I could not agree with you more.

    I had stumbled upon another site where someone had mention Linda Thorsen’s role as Tara King in “The Avengers”. I replied “Linda WHO???” To me there was no other partner for Steed as Emma Peel was the BEST, IMO. I am so glad for site like where they have put some of “The Avengers” episode online for viewing, and you can even download them into your library. So, go to VEOH.COM and check them out. šŸ™‚


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