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Avengers Girl Emma Peel

Updated on October 8, 2017
Emma Peel
Emma Peel

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
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Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg | Source

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

Diana Rigg of The Avengers
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Emma's Appearances

The Emma Peel Debate - What Are Your Thoughts?

Was Emma Peel the Best Avengers Girl?

The Other Avengers Girls

Cathy Gale
Cathy Gale was John Steed's original female avenging partner in the early years of the British adventure series, The Avengers. It was 1962 when Cathy walked...

Tara King
Tara King of The Avengers TV series first appeared on television screens in the Spring of 1968. She was to be the new crime fighting partner of John Steed (p...

The Avengers: The TV Show
The TV show The Avengers is a blend of espionage, fantasy and occasional science fiction that has appealed to those who enjoy witty, off-beat television. Wh...

What do you think of Emma Peel? - The Emma Peel Poll

What's Your Favorite Emma Peel Characteristic?

See results

The Actors

Diana Rigg
Mention the name of Diana Rigg (born July 20, 1938) to most people and they conjure up a picture of the sexy, leather clad agent, Emma Peel, of the 1960s TV ...

Linda Thorson
Linda Thorson (born 18 June, 1947) came to international attention in 1968, when she won the role of Tara King in the 60s cult classic TV show, The Avengers....

Joanna Lumley
Joanna Lumley is one of Britain's best loved actresses, having been acting for what is now more than forty years. Originally, her career started as a photo...

© 2008 Richard

Are You An Emma Peel Fan?

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    • Richard-H profile image

      Richard 2 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Avengers girl in the same way 007 has his 'Bond girls' :)

    • profile image

      Gadfly 2 years ago from Olde London Towne

      Dislike the title 'Avenger's girl' wouldn't 'Avenger's Lady' be more applicable? Logicly a girl reaching puberty becomes a woman and we only have tongue in cheek references such as 'girl's night out', 'lets here it for the girls' etc. Lady makes us aware she is a Lady as are all of the female sleuths of the Avengers.

    • profile image

      Gadfly 2 years ago from Olde London Towne

      Emma Peel's greatest attribute is she can beat up male adversaries with such nonchalance like she hasn't made any effort to do so, and without any of her hair out of place too.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Ah, the snake. Made an impression on me as a young boy - I have no idea why.

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      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.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      Thanks - great lens

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      I am now!

    • JaneEyre9999 profile image

      JaneEyre9999 5 years ago

      Mrs. Peel, we're needed!

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 6 years ago

      She was awesome! Great lens.

    • profile image

      MorningShine 6 years ago

      One of my favorite characters of all time!

    • Art-Aspirations profile image

      Art-Aspirations 6 years ago


    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 6 years ago from Sweden

      I have never seen this beautiful face before. Thanks for the introduction.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      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.

    • profile image

      GetSillyProduct 6 years ago

      classic babe!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The sentence 'Was Emma Peel The Best Avengers Girl' needs re-wording as 'Emma Peel was the Best Avengers Girl'.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I love Emma Peel, she is the best and Diana Rigg is just amazing:) Blessed by this squidoo Angel (no April's Fool!).

    • profile image

      Kaafscorner 6 years ago

      A very talented actress!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      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 profile image

      AgingIntoDisabi 7 years ago

      I luv the Avengers and Emma Peel. Wasn't she hosting Masterpiece theater a while back?

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      She is one of those that I watched growing up... inspiring for women.

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 7 years ago

      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" :)

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Emma Peel = what a remarkable icon!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      She is the Godmother of female action heros!

    • Mrmakingusmile LM profile image

      Mrmakingusmile LM 7 years ago

      Awesome lens. Learn something new everyday. Thanks for making me smile.

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 7 years ago

      My Squidoo security word was ubermeow which says it all about Emma Peel

    • profile image

      the777group lm 7 years ago

      I never got the pun "M. Appeal" - Great!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      She's beautiful. I remember watching these shows with my mom who introduced them to me. (They were old then.)

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 7 years ago from California

      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 profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      Great topic... sure wish I'd thought of it first!

    • profile image

      BertBert 7 years ago

      Absolutely a great lens to visit. I am a fan of Emma Peel.

      A stroll down memory lane. - bert

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      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!

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 7 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Absolutely an Emma Peel fan! Great lens that brought back fond memories!