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
© 2008 Richard
Are You An Emma Peel Fan?
Richard (author) from Surrey, United Kingdom on March 12, 2015:
Avengers girl in the same way 007 has his 'Bond girls' :)
Paul from Liverpool, England on January 30, 2013:
Ah, the snake. Made an impression on me as a young boy - I have no idea why.
grannysage on June 03, 2012:
I asked my husband what he thought of Emma Peel. He said emphatically 'Loved Her!" It was a great show. I had to laugh at the Twitter feed, most are talking about their tan peeling, lol.
John Tannahill from Somewhere in England on May 22, 2012:
Thanks - great lens
AJ from Australia on May 11, 2012:
I am now!
JaneEyre9999 on May 03, 2012:
Mrs. Peel, we're needed!
fullofshoes on February 07, 2012:
She was awesome! Great lens.
MorningShine on November 11, 2011:
One of my favorite characters of all time!
Art-Aspirations on November 05, 2011:
irenemaria from Sweden on October 14, 2011:
I have never seen this beautiful face before. Thanks for the introduction.
Ann Hinds from So Cal on October 02, 2011:
I am an Avenger fan and preferred Emma Peel, Fun lens for a trip down memory lane. Occasionally we are able to catch a rerun or two and never miss them.
GetSillyProduct on June 19, 2011:
anonymous on May 04, 2011:
The sentence 'Was Emma Peel The Best Avengers Girl' needs re-wording as 'Emma Peel was the Best Avengers Girl'.
Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on April 01, 2011:
I love Emma Peel, she is the best and Diana Rigg is just amazing:) Blessed by this squidoo Angel (no April's Fool!).
Kaafscorner on March 15, 2011:
A very talented actress!
Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on February 14, 2011:
Well I finally got my angel wings, and I'm pleased to Bless this iconic lens about one of my favourite actresses. This is a great tribute to Diana Rigg.
AgingIntoDisabi on January 08, 2011:
I luv the Avengers and Emma Peel. Wasn't she hosting Masterpiece theater a while back?
KokoTravel on December 30, 2010:
She is one of those that I watched growing up... inspiring for women.
Addy Bell on December 01, 2010:
I'm a Diana Rigg fan. In the States, I first met her when she hosted the PBS show "Mystery" in the nineties. She's one of my all-time faves, and I keep meaning to look up The Avengers.
Appropriately enough, the captcha word for this comment is "pishposh" :)
julieannbrady on November 28, 2010:
Emma Peel = what a remarkable icon!
MargoPArrowsmith on November 06, 2010:
She is the Godmother of female action heros!
Mrmakingusmile LM on November 01, 2010:
Awesome lens. Learn something new everyday. Thanks for making me smile.
thesuccess2 on September 24, 2010:
My Squidoo security word was ubermeow which says it all about Emma Peel
the777group lm on September 17, 2010:
I never got the pun "M. Appeal" - Great!
Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on September 14, 2010:
She's beautiful. I remember watching these shows with my mom who introduced them to me. (They were old then.)
Ellen Brundige from California on September 06, 2010:
You forgot "she kicks ass" for why Emma rocks. Remember, in "The Proper Way to Kill," while rifling through the Russian spy's filing cabinet, Ms. Peel finds a picture of Steed with "Very Dangerous... Handle With Care" and one of herself with "Extremely Dangerous -- Do NOT Handle" or something to that effect.
For many years, my cellphone's ringtone was the theme song of the Avengers. :)
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on July 15, 2010:
Great topic... sure wish I'd thought of it first!
BertBert on July 11, 2010:
Absolutely a great lens to visit. I am a fan of Emma Peel.
A stroll down memory lane. - bert
Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on July 11, 2010:
The "Avengers" was one of my very favorite TV shows in the 1960s and Emma Peel was my 'imaginary' alter ego. Her style and wit were delightful and the confidence in herself that she showed was what I aspired to be.
anonymous on July 10, 2010:
Oh please Richard, don't tell me someone could not know who's Emma Peel? Mrs Peel... Oh what a wonderful lens! I loved the Avengers so much!
Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on July 10, 2010:
Absolutely an Emma Peel fan! Great lens that brought back fond memories!