Avengers Girl Emma Peel
Diana Rigg is The Avengers' Emma Peel
Although Honor Blackman's Cathy Gale was the prototype Avengers girl, it was her successor Emma Peel, as portrayed by Diana Rigg, who became the most popular of the leather-clad heroines.
An ultra modern and ultra stylish female, she took The Avengers series to new heights of popularity and into the realms of cult television status.
Debuting in 1965, Emma Peel was probably my first schoolboy crush. What red-blooded male could resist this beautiful, self-assured woman with a wit that would not quit? Even her name would exude her effect on the male population - M-Appeal (Man Appeal) - hence Emma Peel.
Occasionally dressed in black leather, she was the equal of her partner John Steed, and was able to dispatch the baddies with the flick of a wrist or a well directed kick. She was a woman most men wanted and one that many women aspired to be.
Introducing Emma Peel: The Avengers Opening Credits
A Little History
Honor Blackman, the actress playing Cathy Gale, Emma's predecessor, had decided to leave The Avengers after two series, so it was now necessary to find her replacement.
There are reports that sixty actresses screen tested the new role with the producers settling on blond beauty, Elizabeth Shepherd. However, after filming one and half episodes, she was fired. No reliable explanation has ever been given for her dismissal, but some sources state that she lacked the necessary humour to carry the role in the direction the producers wanted.
This left the door open for another actress to fill Honor Blackman's leather boots. She was found via a then recent broadcast of a television drama. Her name was Diana Rigg.
Beautiful and gifted, her screen test with Patrick Macnee (John Steed) demonstrated the chemistry the producers wanted from their two leads...and Emma Peel was born.
Diana Rigg's introductory Avengers episode, The Town of No Return, was broadcast in the UK during September 1965. The impact of her appearance was almost immediate. Men wanted her while women wanted to be her.
Emma Peel's styling was noticeably different to that of Cathy Gale. Instead of judo, Emma was proficient in karate and kung-fu and while she wore the occasional leather catsuit, there was a move to softer and more flexible outfits for Ms. Rigg. Nevertheless, Emma was as equally as emancipated as Cathy.
Such was the popularity of The Avengers in Europe that it was not long before the USA was able to appreciate Emma's attributes. The series was now produced on film allowing for broadcast in the States, and with American money, made the transition from black and white to colour.
As a result, Emma and her show become a global phenomenon. A clothing line was introduced across Europe and Diana Rigg was now a star, recognised wherever she went.
It was not to last, however. Diana was neither fully comfortable with the fame the role brought, nor the relentless filming schedule, and decided to quit the role. After two seasons she was gone, but during her tenure she carved out an indelible place in television history.
The Colour Intro
Farewell Emma Peel
What do you think of Emma Peel? - The Emma Peel Poll
What's Your Favorite Emma Peel Characteristic?
Questions & Answers
© 2008 Richard