Mrs. Emma Peel

At the age of 3 or 4, my Grandma let me stay up past my normal bedtime when she baby-sat me one night. I saw an episode of THE AVENGERS, and fell in love with EMMA PEEL.

I was absolutely fascinated by this pretty lady, clad in catsuits and leather, who bashed the bone-marrow out of all the bad-guys. I had never seen anybody like her before and I couldn’t take my eyes off her when she was on-screen. As a tiny child, I had a strange feeling watching Mrs. Peel, that would take me years to understand. Emma Peel was my first ever crush, many years before I was old enough to have any idea of what a crush even was.

Apparently, I made a huge fuss on subsequent nights when my standard bedtime was enforced by my parents, and I wasn’t allowed to stay up late enough to see that nice lady kicking arse any more. Oh, what a hullabaloo. Poor Grandma tried to make amends by helping me write a letter to Emma Peel, asking her to put her TV show on earlier, before my bedtime, so I could watch her. I doubt very much that the letter was ever sent… but a few years later I was old enough to stay up late and watch the re-runs, anyway.

This 1960s TV series, starring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, is a snap-shot of that time when everything coming out of Britain was automatically seen as being cool. The Avengers still plays well today, if partly undermined by other shows that have come along since, including many that this show inspired in the first place. The martial arts fights that I found so exciting as a child are hopelessly naff by today’s standards. We are now accustomed to seeing well choreographed action, and women in fight sequences aren’t a novelty any more, either; television has a different battle-babe for each night of the week. That wasn’t the case when Emma Peel hit the screen for the first time; she was a revolutionary character.

Though her “Karate Chop” style of fighting may look cheesy to modern viewers, the character herself is every bit as charming as she ever was. Even 40 years after Emma Peel first appeared on TV, there aren’t many characters to match her easy confidence, strength, book smarts, wry humour and sense of style. The playfully platonic relationship between Emma Peel and John Steed holds up particularly well. It is still unusual, even today, for a man and a woman to have a long running screen partnership that doesn’t inevitably end in a romantic entanglement.

I should also mention that Emma Peel, as played by the incomparable Diana Rigg, is every bit as beautiful as I had remembered her, maybe even moreso.

8 thoughts on “Mrs. Emma Peel”

  1. aaaw that’s so cute, haha! Love the little history snippet you delivered, sounds like your grammy was pretty awesome. This sketch is beautiful too! I like the sharp cheek bone

  2. Paul>> I am glad that you liked the drawing. I was trying to do a likeness of the CHARACTER rather than the actress but a woman in a catsuit has become a pretty generic image over the years, so in the end I tried to put a little Diana Rigg in there too. I’d like to do some more…

    John>> Well, there certainly have been a TON of catsuit-wearing babe characters since her, and I have to admit to liking a LOT of them (what’s not to like?) but she is my all time fave…

    Uma Thurman looked OK too…. but she didn’t seem to be the same character to me. It is too bad that the 1998 FILM version of the Avengers was such a dud, although I can see that it would be very hard to do a good version. Apart from the difficulty of casting actors to match the originals, getting the tone right would be very hard… especially in a post AUSTIN POWERS world.

  3. Yeah! I love your drawing! I understand the “magic”. I got swept into the charm of the show when i was researching for an art show i had coming up. I got hooked on those Avenger’s episodes. If you want to check out the show online, just go to

    Let me know what you think of my Emma Peel painting. (I noticed they got the title wrong on the site). Anyway I love the drawing you did.

    • Ben>> thanks for coming by and commenting, and yes, I really like your painting. Thanks for posting a link to it. Shame that they didn’t call her MRS Peel though. I always thought the fact that she was a MRS (and un-“involved” with her crime-fighting partner)was one of the charms of the show..

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