Mini Skirt Monday #138: Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg is best known for her role as Emma Peel on The Avengers.  The name was actually a play on "M Appeal" where the "M" stood for "Man"..... and Diana Rigg certainly had a lot of man appeal.  (insert sexist wolf whistle)

On the show, Emma was known for her one-piece uniform - a shapely unitard of sorts.  But, more often than not, she'd also grace the screen with a miniskirt.  It was, after all, England in the Swingin' Sixties.

Diana was also a Bond girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service - which is actually my favorite Bond film. If only Lazenby had taken the role more seriously, it could have taken him places.

From Pulp Fiction (1994)

MIA: If you were "Archie," who would you f**k first, Betty or Veronica?
VINCENT: Betty. I never understood the Veronica attraction.
MIA: Have you ever fantasized about being beaten up by a girl?
MIA: Who.
VINCENT: Emma Peel on "The Avengers." That tough girl who usta hang out with Encyclopedia Brown. And Arlene Motika.
MIA: Who's Arlene Motika?
VINCENT: Girl from sixth grade, you don't know her

In 1971 Diana had a big role in the controversial George C. Scott film, The Hospital. Scott had infamously rejected the Oscar the previous year for Patton, yet the Academy still nominated him for The Hospital the next year.

But more importantly, Diana wears a miniskirt. And when that happens, Retrospace takes notice.

If you want to feel old, think about the fact that Diane Rigg is now playing roles like the ancient Queen of Thorns on Game of Thrones.

Diana had her own short-lived sitcom show (imaginatively titled "Diana").  It was an American program, and it only lasted fifteen episodes.  She played a prim and proper British woman, newly divorced and living in NYC.  It was supposed to be the network's answer to MTM... but no dice.

This is one of only a few photographs out there from her short lived show (cropped from a TV Guide).  From the looks of that hemline, 'Diane' may be a show to watch.... if it ever becomes available (I'm not holding my breath).  .Although, from the scant clips on YouTube, the allure of Rigg in a mini may not have been enough to compensate for some lousy unoriginal writing.

At the end of her tenure with the Avengers, Rigg starred in A Midsummer's Night Dream (1968).  Nothing particularly thrilling about that.... other than the miniskirt.

After leaving The Avengers, her replacement, Tara King (Linda Thorson) had a hard time filling her shoes.  Like Sammy Hagar, no matter how good she was, she just couldn't replace Diamond Dave.... er, I mean Diane Rigg.

From an old "Look Who's Talking: The Avengers" interview magazine:
How do you feel about your predecessor in THE AVENGERS, Honor Blackman.or your heir Linda Thorson - as actresses or characters?

Honor I know better than Linda , but I know them both personally and like them very much indeed. I took over from Honor, of course, which was a very great challenge because she was much loved - and very successful in the part , and it was difficult for me because she was such a success.
As for Linda, everyone imagines that one is dictatorial about the part one has played. They forget that I elected to leave the series, and that 1 left it on good terms with everybody- and that I genuinely wished success and happiness to both Linda and Patrick when I left. There is an old cliche about the actress not wanting her successor to succeed - well that's all nonsense! For the sake of both of them, and for the sake of the series that I owe so much to, of course I hoped they succeed!

Rigg's only nude scene was on stage for the play Abelard and Heloise.  This spawned the notorious quote from theater critic John Simon that she was "built like a brick basilica with insufficient flying buttresses."

This from an old interview you can find on YouTube.  Notice how the men in the room are having trouble focusing.

This poor fellow has to take notes.  Could it be he's more than a little distracted?



  1. OHMSS- GREAT sourndtrack. Wooden acting ("as animate as Westminster Abbey" I think Maltin described Lazenby's acting). Ridiculous plot with long moments of boredom. Terrible continuity. But most of all, "This never happened to the other guy." Aaarghhhh

  2. Nice piece! Of writing! On your next safari,why don't you go in search of Joanna Pettet's legs?
    Her heyday was supposedly in the 60s/70s, but I've only seen her in a mini once, in a 1972 tv movie called "Footsteps" that's on TCM occasionally.

  3. How about a Linda Thorson retrospective to round things out?

    Her tenure on the Avengers was not well-received by many fans, but she definitely had the figure for a mini.

    1. Funny you should ask. Already done back in 2009!


  4. Hi there.

    This is the first article upon which I've commented, although I've been reading for quite a while (in that regard, let me say "thank you" for your always amusing writing and ideas).

    BTW, I found Retrospace long ago using a boring search, "1960s miniskirt".

    BUT, on to the main reason that I'm writing, which is the criminal under-appreciation for Diana Rigg in these comments!

    She was my first real crush when she was on the Avengers. The major reason to watch at all, although the show WAS amusing in a snarky-cool kind of way.

    She embodied the perfect combination of cute (her face has lots of kinderschema) and sexy, along with a great sexy voice.

    They don't make them like her anymore.


  5. John Simon has always been grumpy.

    1. The bruiser with the lovely Diana in the fashion set is boxer Billy Walker, brother of the astonishing George Walker.


  6. Dame Diana; *sigh* I'm still in love/lust with her.

  7. Wonderful actress, and a genuine class act.

    And she still looks pretty good these days!

  8. Gad I wanted to BE her all my life.
    I watched the show in syndication when I was growing up and SHE was my idol even then. She had such poise and confidence. She could handle anything and THAT is what I wanted to do. I use to think, "what would Emma do?"

    You forgot her part in the second Muppet movie, "The Great Muppet Caper."

    Great post for a Miniskirt Monday.

  9. When I saw OHMSS in 1970 (yes, I'm that old), it seemed logical that the only woman who could push James Bond into marriage would be Mrs Peel!

    One of my favorite AVENGERS eps featured a sequence with a Russian agent looking over files about Steed and Peel.
    The file marked "John Steed" had the notation "Dangerous. Handle with extreme caution" and the file marked "Emma Peel" stated "Extremely dangerous! Do not handle at all!"
    Now THAT'S the woman for James Bond! ;-)

  10. There are no words for how groovy that first picture is.