Emma Peel: A forgotten icon

Friday, February 12

By Julia Martinez

The name of this legend may not ring a bell since, unless you were born on 1965, it probably has never popped on your tv screen or netflix account. However, she is one of the strongest female characters film industry has ever created.

Her first appearence was during season 4, where she worked along  side with John Steed (Patrick Macnee), where, to quote the show, they, as extraordinary agents, avenged extraordinary crimes against the people and the state.

Emma Peel, interpreted by Diana Rigg, was mainly done to fabricate a character that would be appealing  to men Man Appeal" or "M. Appeal). She was set out to be just another one of the side chicks of the show, right from the start. In spite of this, Peel was able to become a strong heroine that inspired many and was quickly to become one of the pioneers of the women’s leading characters.

A master of martial arts, a professional with the swords and knives and a spy aand a specialist in chemistry and science are a few of the skills and assets that made her the most memorable tv  show’s co protagonist. Not to mention she was also powerful fashion icon.

Her style was really fresh and contemporary yet fitting for  a unofficial undercover operative. Mrs Peel was the ideal broker of the UK into the swinging world of the 60s,” Toby Miller, then a New York University film professor, told the New York Times in 1998. “She exuded the same style, confidence and beauty that were central to the abiding appeal of James Bond.”

I think the best part about the character, is how she doesn’t come down as just a companion, she is the co-worker, she fights the bad guys, provides grip and mastery and, most importantly, she uses her resources and knowledge to do something productive during the series. This is what we all expect from any tv show leading role in the present day, but back in 1965 this was a complete, but surprisingly well received, utter shock.

I believe it's important to highligt Diana Rigg’s perfomance and bring back attention to characters like Emma Peel who were the few female leaders of the 1960/1970’s  that were not diminished by the male protagonist and seen as just a mere sexual object, and most importantly, forged a path for new roles for women.

 

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