Ask Morgana 207: Who’s beautiful?
On this occasion, I am not foregrounding a person per se, but a fictional character – Emma Peel.
Dame Diana Rigg is still very much with us, still acting, currently chilling us in Game of Thrones and You, Me, and the Apocalypse. In the 1960s, without knowing anything about the role, she auditioned to replace Elizabeth Shepherd as ‘Emma Peel’, in TV’s The Avengers. Though many viewers – mainly male – remember Mrs Peel best for her fetishistic ‘Queen of Sin’ costume in the episode ‘A Touch of Brimstone’, and others for the leather catsuit she seemed to inherit from her predecessor Cathy Gale (played by Honor Blackman), for most of her time in the show she wore boutique designs by John Bates, to compliment her partner-in-mystery John Steed’s Pierre Cardin three-pieces.
Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Mrs Peel had an on-screen relationship which, although it had a soupçon of sexual tension, was never romantic. She always called him ‘Steed’, and never ‘John’. he hardly ever used her given name either, and she never melted into his arms at the end of an episode. They were working partners in a quirky, sometimes surreal piece of 1960s escapist television. The closest they came to romance was to share a glass of Champagne when the baddies were defeated.
Although Emma Peel was neither a Hollywood glamour-puss nor a 1960s dolly-bird, she was uniquely beautiful, and totally cool…
Oh, and while we are talking about beauty, she drove an utterly gorgeous little Lotus Elan!