The Mirror Room
Today is reflected: Emma Peel vs. Diana Rigg
Emma Peel can be described as a wholly emancipated woman, as she said in Escape in Time, who was widowed at an early age, since her husband, test pilot Peter Peel disappeared during one of his flights over the Amazon. This is at least what we assume during her partnership with Steed, but there's no reason to believe that Emma was a woman of limited financial resources. Quite the opposite, she seemed to be pretty wealthy after receiving the legacy of her father, Sir John Knight, who left the Knight Industries to her.
In Death's Door we find out that her first encounter with Steed was due to a car collision. However, according to Brian Clemens, one of the main scriptwriters and producer of the show during the fifth season, Emma and Steed had enjoyed a passionate romance in the past, but at the time of the series, they only remained as good friends...
When Emma Peel made her fist appearance in the show, back in December 1964, she was portrayed as "... a woman of independent means, she was the complete one-jump-ahead jet-set female, a cool, luscious British counterspy with wicked brown eyes and auburn hair who would effortlessly karate chop and knee her opponent into submission" (The Complete Avengers, Dave Rogers).
Two seasons, in which 51 episodes were filmed, have been all that Emma Peel needed to turn into the most glamorous, sexy, mysterious and sophisticated lady in television history. Her success was explosive: an exciting combination of being desirable to men, and a model for womenand this has remained intact for four decades.
In fact, when one thinks about the series, the first thing that springs to mind, at least to those who were present at this cultural phenomenon of the '60s, is the sensual elegance Emma displayeddressed in her kinky, fine, black catsuit (by no means, nothing about her could imply a shade of vulgarity), exchanging a smile or an accomplice's wink with the apparently conservative Mr. Steed.
Many of these qualities (and some others which were added in as the character evolved) are shared with Diana; some others are not.
Therefore, in the next pages we're going to analyze the divergences and convergences between a character who has left an indelible landmark in the lives of so many people around the world, and her creator, Diana Rigg, who appears reluctant to admit that, from this success forward, she became an erotic icon still fresh to the present day.
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