Television Top Trumps - Margaret Schlegel vs Peggy Carter

Hayley Atwell’s got a bit of a thing for a period drama. If, that is, you stretch the definition of “period drama” a hell of a lot to make sure it includes Captain America. And so it's no surprise that her appearance in Television Top Trumps has led to the battle of the archaically-named Margarets, as Howards End's Margaret Schlegel takes on Agent Carter’s Peggy Carter.

Because, it turns out that Margaret is what Peggy is short for. Not Pegetha, as I believed for far longer than I should admit to. Pegetha Carter has an excellent ring to it, though. Almost like a mythical winged creature.

Wait. That's Pegasus.

Anyway, which of Atwell’s Margaret's is the greatest? Edwardian art-lover Schlegel, or post-war badass Carter?

Format hopping 

Margaret: Miss Schlegel first appeared in E.M Forster’s novel Howards End, which has been torturing A-Level English students for countless years. She had a turn in the cinema in the Merchant Ivory adaptation, before finally rocking up in a new BBC series - providing a brand new way for A-Level students to get away with not reading the book. And it's here that Hayley Atwell joined Margaret's cross-format ramble, rather late in the game. 7/10

Peggy: it's a similar - albeit less academically torturous - story, with Peggy first finding life in the Marvel comics before making the transition to film and TV (and probably umpteen other formats that I've just not paid attention to.) But extra points must be awarded for the fact that Atwell has played Peggy in both the Captain America films and the spin-off TV series. And because I never had to write an essay about her. 10/10

Cross-class friendship

Margaret: Poor Leonard Bast. Poor, poor Leonard Bast. He gets befriended by Margaret and her sister Helen, who decide to try and improve his life for him. It all goes terribly wrong, of course, otherwise we'd be calling him Lucky Leonard Bast. 2/10

Peggy: Lucky Peggy Carter befriends the crazy rich Howard Stark, father of Robert Downey Jr’s Tony. He's a handy friend to have, with all his money and resources and crazy inventions. Except when he gets accused of being a traitor. That gets a tad tricky. 8/10

Outsider status

Margaret: it's not all an easy life of accidentally destroying other people’s financial prospects and future happiness for Margaret. For it is the early 20th century, and she is a woman. One with a German name, and all. Not a great thing to have in the run-up to World War I, a German name. Just ask the Royal family. 7/10

Peggy: Shockingly enough, Peggy is also a woman. Sure, she's a woman in the mid 20th century and so has things like the vote and the ability to show her ankles in public without causing uproar, but that's not much help to Peggy. For she's also a spy, and British, and her American male colleagues do not value her. Which they make really rather apparent. 8/10

Impractical wardrobe 

Margaret: it's a good thing that Margaret doesn't do much other than sit around drinking tea and discussing art and literature, because she's really not appropriately attired for anything more physically demanding than that. It's all corsets and high necklines and the odd ridiculous hat. 7/10

Peggy: things are rather more complex for our Peggy, who has to do all manner of running about and fighting bad guys and generally beating the men at their own game while dressed as a 1940s lady. If you can't kick arse in a skirt suit, can you really kick arse at all? 9/10

Doomed romance

Margaret: Margaret inexplicably falls in love with the truly atrocious Henry Wilcox, a man so mediocre and unpleasant that even Matthew Macfadyen can't make him appealing. Nobody could make that man appealing, not even peak Harrison Ford - aka the most attractive man in the known universe. 2/10

Peggy: Agent Carter, meanwhile, entirely understandably falls in love with Captain America. It all looks gloriously brilliant, until he has to sacrifice himself to save the world or something. That's usually what the Avengers do, isn't it? They save the world. 9/10

The verdict

Perhaps she is a magical creature after all, for Peggy takes it with 44 to Margaret's 25. Or maybe she's just not a character who tortured me for a year of my life. That might be it.

Latest Articles