Throughout the history of the great cult-classic The Avengers, John Steed has had many partners, but no one can beat the chemistry he had with the style icon Mrs. Emma Peel!
The Nick and Nora of the spy world, Steed and Emma used witty banter, class, elegant action and intelligence with a touch of eccentricity to save the world from blackguards and mad scientists. It's one of my all-time favourite television shows and one of the few shows that I can watch over and over again and not be bored by it.
Mrs. Peel was always fashionably dressed in the latest mod styles and was forever redecorating her various flats -she had three different ones, as she moved for every year that she was one the show, but my favourite one is the '65 one with the giant eye on the front door (alas, I couldn't find a picture of it). Mrs. Peel's mod fashions also act as the perfect balance to Steed's Edwardian three-piece tailored suits, steel-lined bowlers, trick umbrellas and his impeccable manners and charm.
In addition to being a style legend, Mrs. Peel is also a great role model -I think she was one of my first role models (coincidentally, my hero is also from a vintage television show, although he's not fictional and has nothing to do with Steed and Mrs. Peel). She was never the damsel in distress, waiting around for Steed to rescue her. Mrs. Peel was always equal to Steed, obviously intelligent, a brilliant scientist, an expert at judo, karate and investigating and she could sew too! I wish that there were more role models like her around nowadays.
And who could forget the infamous emmapeelers? They were always practical for breaking and entering and playing fisticuffs with villains -the brightly coloured ones that is, not the leather ones.
There are two really terrific things about the Mrs. Peel era. First, Steed and Emma would add a touch of realism by reusing their wardrobe, something not often done on any television show. And second, you always knew that the episode would end happily, with Steed and Emma getting into a vintage automobile and driving off to have some champagne and nothing bad would every happen to them, because super heroes can't die!
Here's the intro to the colour episodes, several of which are on YouTube at the moment, in case you've never seen The Avengers.
Did you know that The Avengers had a hit song that was also a critique of the fashion industry called "Kinky Boots"? It was sung by Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman in character as John Steed and Cathy Gale. The Avengers is one of the reasons why boots were so popular in the Sixties. By the way, does anyone know if there exists a reproduction of Mrs. Peel's white ankle boots with the black stripe on them?