Emma Peel was a fictional spy played by Diana Rigg in the British 1960s adventure television series The Avengers. She was born Emma Knight, the daughter of an industrialist, Sir John Knight.
The partner of John Steed, Mrs Peel was introduced as a replacement for the popular Cathy Gale, played by actress Honor Blackman, who left the series at the end of the programme's third season to co-star in the James Bond film Goldfinger.
The producers scrambled to find a replacement and found her in Diana Rigg; the Shepherd episodes were subsequently re-filmed.
The character was notable for a number of characteristics. She is a feminist heroine, eschewing traditional "damsel-in-distress" portrayals of women (she is rarely bested in any fight and rescues Steed as often as he rescues her). She is a master of martial arts and a formidable fencer. A certified genius, she specializes in chemistry and other sciences. She is often seen in episodes engaging in artistic hobbies and had success in industry at the helm of the company of her late father, Sir John Knight. Her husband, Peter Peel, was a pilot whose plane disappeared over the Amazonian forest. He was presumed dead for many years, and Peel went on to work with Steed. She drove a convertible Lotus Elan at high speeds, and convincingly portrayed any series of undercover roles, from nurse to nanny. Her favorite guise was that of a women's magazine reporter, trying to interview big business tycoons and rich playboys. The name "Emma Peel" is a play on the phrase "Man Appeal" or "M. Appeal", which the production team stated was one of the required elements of the character.
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