Growing up in the 1960s, my role models weren’t the various members of the rock band, but the secret agents on TV and in the movies. The most famous of the female secret agent was played by Diana Rigg in the British television series The Avengers. I noticed that Ms. Peel appeared again when I saw the reboot of the James Bond Casino Royale franchise starring Daniel Craig as 007. First I must explain that NOTHING, not a word, in a movie script is there for accident. There’s no idle talk in the movie’s dialogue, there’s just no time for that. Everything in a script is there for a reason.
In Casino Royale Daniel Craig replaces Pierce Brosnan as James Bond and John Cleese replaces Desmond Llewelyn as Q, who had died before production began, but Judi Dench fills her role as head of department “M”. If this movie is truly a “reboot” as advertised, why would any actor continue in his role? The answer is obvious, James Bond, as “M” and “Q” is an alias, not a real person. What kind of secret agent is James Bond who insists on announcing his true identity in almost every situation? “Bond, James Bond” is his catchphrase. Unless, like the “dreaded pirate Roberts” from The Princess Bride, reputation is what gives you your edge. In Diamonds Are Forever he is even known as “the famous James Bond”. James Bond is both a codename and 007 and refers to any agent assigned the number 007. This explains why the man from Her Majesty’s Secret Service who used his reputation to get a rich woman to marry he (Diana Riggs, Mrs., Emma Peel herself no less) was the first thing she did with her new job and then she retired. like a cheap suit when she was murdered in front of him and because of him it only lasted like James Bond for one mission (movie). His replacement, Roger Moore, avenged his death as the first act of his new role as Bond with the cold, emotionless detachment of someone avenging the death of someone he didn’t actually know. Of course, Roger Moore has the emotional range of a normal mannequin.
Going back to Mrs. Peel … In a scene in Casino Royale, Judy Dench is seen as “M” sleeping in bed with her husband (we now know she is a lady) when someone wakes her up in their apartment. He finds Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, and insists that he tell him how he found out where he lives. He responds that he has found out a few things about her, including her real name. He says, “I always thought ‘M’ was a randomly assigned initial, I had no idea what it meant …” “M” cuts him off abruptly and says, “Say one more syllable and I’ll get you killed.” Obviously, you don’t want your real name to be said out loud. This is a little Easter egg for all 1960s James Bond / English Spy fans (like me), otherwise this little speech has nothing to do with this scene. Who cares what his real name is? Unless … She says, “Say one more syllable.” That’s a clue that his name begins with the syllable “M” (Em). Probably his first name.
It also suggests that saying one more syllable of his name is enough to reveal his full name. Emily or Emilia are possibilities, but the only two-syllable female name that begins with the “M” sound is Emma. Now why do we care that “M’s” real name is Emma? We don’t, except that the only famous British secret agent from the 1960s is Emma Peel from the TV show The Avengers. Judy Dench and Diana Rigg are only three years apart, so having Judy Dench play Emma Peel in the 21st century is age appropriate and one last thing; John Steed and Mrs. Emma Peel from The Avengers referred to their senior officer in the English Secret Service by the codename “Mother”. James Bond’s superior officer is called “M”. John Steed, a “sensitive” guy, and Mrs. Peel have no problem calling a man by the codename “Mother”, but maybe a macho guy like Bond would just prefer “M”.