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Peggy Lipton of ''Angel Falls''

Peggy Lipton of ”Angel Falls” — The former ”Mod Squad” actress returns in the new CBS prime-time soap opera

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As soon as Peggy Lipton finished auditioning for CBS’ new prime-time soap, Angel Falls (premiering Aug. 26, 10-11 p.m.), she had won the part — and the hearts of all the male execs in the room. ”The way everyone was smiling, I knew we were all thinking the same thing,” reports co-executive producer Larry Sanitsky. ”She read great, and she looks great. I mean, didn’t every guy have a crush on Peggy Lipton from Mod Squad?”

Guys and gals who adored Lipton had to pine patiently for her for many years after the finale of Squad (1968-73), which costarred Michael Cole and Clarence Williams III as fellow hipster undercover cops. (Lipton is still in awe of Williams’ famous Afro: ”He had so much hair! It would take him hours to comb it out.”) With four Emmy nominations for Squad, Lipton, a former model, forsook show business post-Squad to raise her two daughters, Kidada, now 19, and Rashida, 17, with her then husband, music impresario Quincy Jones. ”My career is important to me, but my family was more important,” Lipton says. ”I didn’t feel like I was walking away [from anything]”

Lipton finally returned to series TV, playing an abused wife in 1990-91’s offbeat Twin Peaks, which she calls ”very special. I feel the same magic about Angel Falls that I did with Twin Peaks and Mod Squad.” In Falls, designed to be a replacement for CBS’ late Knots Landing, Lipton, 46, stars opposite another ’70s TV icon, James Brolin (Marcus Welby, M.D.; Hotel), as Hadley and Luke Larson, a husband and wife who are grieving over the loss of their child. This being a soap, the grief is causing frustration in bed, which will undoubtedly lead to marital turmoil. ”The show will have sex in it,” acknowledges Lipton, who looks forward to watching the show with her kids. ”But why not? On any given day, you won’t meet a person who doesn’t have the thought [of sex] cross their mind.”

Scripts for the show, which also stars Chelsea Field and Kim Cattrall, suggest the male characters will be providing much of the skin and titillation. This suits Lipton, single and unattached, just fine. ”It’s time they have to take off their clothes for a change, don’t you think?”

Her fans might disagree.