Mrs. Peel Goes Native

Beastly Hair-Pull Brings Out the Savage in Emma 

     A call from Steed told her where to go, but why?

     Emma Peel knew there was only one way to answer that question, so -- after throwing a fashionable raincoat over her action suit -- off she went!

    She found at the address a typical ancestral mansion, like so many where diabolical crimes seem to be committed. 

     Easily jimmying a window, Mrs. Peel climbed into danger unknown...
Typical, indeed, with a historic gun collection and stuffed hunting trophies...
...yet when she passes through a set of French doors, she finds a new world!
Mrs. Peel unbuttons her coat in the suddenly tropical conditions she's stepped into. 
Is this still jolly old England? 

In Deepest, Darkest Africa

This is Colonel Rawlings, he's nuts. He thinks this IS Africa. He also thinks Britain still runs the (fake) African country of Kalaya, where in fact a local government has taken over. Steed is pretending to be an old officer and plantation owner. That's Lala, a native, serving them. For the rest of the plot, we turn to Avengers Forever:

Unbeknownst to the Colonel, the "jungle" is an artificial habitat located right outside London, and is being used by a diabolical mastermind to develop a deadly strain of tsetse fly that will be unleashed on the citizens of Kalaya in response to the eviction of British rubber plantation owners. Got that?
Steed thanks Lala for breakfast, and takes a quick look at her rack.
Lala takes an interest as Razafi, another native, whispers sweet nothings to Steed.
Moments later, with Steed otherwise occupied, a hand reaches for Razafi...
It's Lala, with a knife!
Steed can only comfort the dying lad, as Lala gets away. 
She looks back to see if she's being pursued, then starts screaming...
`Abu sla-tama! Abu sla-tama!'

Emma, the Huntress

Mrs. Peel blends into the scenery like a chameleon as she tries to figure out
what's going on, and where Steed is... 

...when suddenly Lala's screams fill the jungle!

Lala passes right by Emma's lair!
Emma glances back to make sure no one else is coming...
...then, like a lioness on the hunt, she takes off after her prey, Lala...

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Steed is surprised when Trent, the ring-leader of the tsetse-fly scheme, congratulates him for having killed Razafi -- a spy, no doubt! Steed happily takes credit. Trent doesn't suspect Lala of the stabbing, but he was unnerved by her screaming.   

 `Lala, what is the matter with you,' he says to the native woman,
just re-entering the hut, `losing your wits like that?' 
 Yet when `Lala' turns...
 ...she suddenly morphs...
 ...into Emma!

Women, Color, and a Black & White World

     As was typical for the BBC back in the 1960s, actors of color were rarely seen on "The Avengers." This episode is a noticeable exception.

     Poor Razafi, stabbed in the back, was played by Paul Danquah, a British actor whose father was Ghanian.

     And Lala, who did the stabbing, was played by Esther Anderson, a Jamaican of mixed African and Indian ancestry.

     Anderson, a lovely woman and beauty-pageant winner, went on to have a very successful career in acting and film-making, as well helping to develop the Reggae music sound through Island Records. She also apparently had relationships with Bob Marley and Marlon Brando.

     She's led a very interesting life, yet perhaps her oddest professional moment was being impersonated by Diana Rigg. 

    Could Esther Anderson ever, in a million years, be confused for Diana Rigg?
Esther Anderson, above left, as Lala, and in a couple of unidentified shots from over the years. Immediately above, right, she's shown with Sidney Poitier in `A Warm December,' for which she won an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in 1973. Below, a moment with Bob Marley.
​​     Thus, the light-skinned and auburn-haired Emma can simply throw on Lala's dress and totally fool the (somewhat dim) Trent. ​​

    Ah, well, thus is the magic of the screen made!
     The audacity of producers to have Emma take Lala's place can only be attributed to the magic of black-and-white filmmaking.
     In B&W, everybody is but 50 shades of gray!

Time to Kick Some Butt

Before we return to the action, it's worth asking ourselves what just happened. You recall we last saw Emma running off into the jungle after Lala. Now suddenly she reappears dressed in Lala's outfit! How did that happen? Emma must have caught up with the native girl and, somehow, convinced her to trade outfits.

The only logical explanation is a savage catfight! After all, Lala was running from a killing. She didn't know who Emma was, but she certainly wouldn't wait to find out. She would have fought for her life against Mrs. Peel, and like two deadly cats they would have been locked in mortal combat! Only Emma's superior training would allow her to defeat the wild woman.

Then stripping her, and tying her up with her own clothes, Emma would have left the girl for the authorities as she went to find Steed.

And, our question answered, we return to the action!   
Using the element of surprise on Trent, Emma rears back with her right hand, and...
She lands a fierce body blow! Then she appears to taunt him. `Come on, big boy,
give me the best you've got!"
`Why, I'll show you!' he seems to say... he wraps his hands around Mrs. Peel's neck!
As if Emma is going to allow herself to get choked by this stiff! 
She breaks the hold...
(a quick pause to admire Emma's bouncing hair)
...and goes on the offensive!
Meanwhile, as Emma wrestles with Trent, Steed grabs the tsetse-fly box.
He bashes Trent with it, then hands it to Emma. `Take it!'
And away she goes!

A Native Insurrection

The alarm is sounded, sending the `native' troops scurrying into action.
`By, Jove, the natives are restless!'
`Steed and a woman have taken the cannister!' Trent tells the troops. `Track them down!' 

Emma, Queen of the Jungle

Cannister in hand, Emma dashes through the jungle for her dear life.
And brave woman that she is, even Emma doesn't like snakes!
Thugs, on the other hand...
...are Emma's specialty. Bring it on, Tarzan!
Emma grabs his spear, so to speak, and they wrestle for control...
...before Emma manages to toss him into the forest flora.
Mrs. Peel hears footsteps -- two sets of them!
In they run...
...and down they go!
Uh-oh, a white man with a gun!
Emma's insurrection is halted. And keep an eye on the goon at left... 

The Violation of Mrs. Peel

As Emma looks down the barrel of Trent's pistol, the thug only has eyes her...
And coming up from behind, he manhandles her! 
He pins her right arm with his own, and sinks his left hand into her hair! 
Oh, what a gross abuse of our heroine!
Wait until the #MeToo movement hears about this!

The Role of a Lifetime

`Over here,' yells the guy with the gun, as in rushes Professor Swain, the mastermind behind the whole tsetse scheme.
The stooge in the loincloth takes the opportunity to shake some sense into Emma.
You can see his left hand, dug into Emma's soft, beautiful hair.... he gives her head a real tossing about!
`Tribesman,' as the goon is billed, is played by stuntman Billy Cornelius. 
And do you want to bet this is among Cornelius's top professional memories?
His mates in the pub probably can't wait for him to tell strangers about the time...
...`I had my way with Diana Rigg, I did!'
You also wonder if Cornelius knew what a good thing he had going...
We know that, in his place, we'd be forever yelling...
...`Cut! I just don't think I got that scene right. Can we try it again?'
`And maybe a little extra practice?'
`We got her,' gun-guy tells the Professor, as Tribesman keeps up
the good work on Emma's scalp...

The Dirty Old Professor

Professor Swain is none to happy with Emma.
`You almost spoiled it, Mrs. Peel,' he says.
Emma seems unmoved.
`All that work put in jeopardy...
`...because of you!' 
`That arouses me to violence!' 
If not for the thug with his hand in my hair, thinks Emma, I'd show you some violence!

The Obligatory Tarzan Scene

As the stare-off between Emma and the Professor continues... 
...a sound is heard in the distance.
It's got everyone's attention...
What can it be?
Suddenly emerging from the heavy foliage...
...what seems to be...
...the figure of a man...
...swinging on a vine!
In comes Steed, and down they go like bowling pins!

A Girl Can Only Take So Much

`Me Emma!'

The thug manages to keep his hold on Emma, for the moment...
...but she has had quite enough of his mauling.
And this is what happens to men who pull Emma's hair!
She reaches back, extricates his meat-hook from her lovely locks...
....then, with two hands, she twists his arm around...
...and flips him over her shoulder!...
He's down and out!
Emma washes her hands of him...
Though perhaps Diana Rigg is thinking she'd like to throw him to the ground a few more times, after all that hair-pulling...

Welcome to The Girls Fight Club

Where Hair Is Always Flying!