|Dame Diana Rigg|
Portrait of Diana Rigg in 2006
20 July 1938 |
Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Archibald Stirling (1982–90, divorced)
Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, DBE (born 20 July 1938) is an English actress. She is probably best known for her portrayals of Emma Peel in The Avengers and Countess Teresa di Vicenzo in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. She is considered a sex symbol and an icon of 1960s feminism.
Early life and education 
Rigg was born in Doncaster, then in the West Riding of Yorkshire, now in South Yorkshire to Louis Rigg (1903–1968) and Beryl Hilda Helliwell (1908–1981); her father was a railway engineer who had been born in Yorkshire. Between the ages of two months and eight years Rigg lived in Bikaner, India, where her father was employed as a railway executive. Rigg speaks fluent Hindi. She was then sent to a boarding school, the Moravian School in Fulneck, near Pudsey. She disliked her boarding school, where she felt like a fish out of water, but she believes that Yorkshire played a greater part in shaping her character than India did. She trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Theatre career 
Rigg's career in film, television and the theatre has been wide-ranging, including roles in the Royal Shakespeare Company between 1959 and 1964. Her professional debut was in The Caucasian Chalk Circle in 1955, aged 17.
A return to the stage and a nude scene with Keith Michell for Abelard and Heloise in 1970 led to a notorious description of her as 'built like a brick basilica with insufficient flying buttresses', by the acerbic critic John Simon. (Simon's line is often rendered incorrectly, with "mausoleum" in place of "basilica."). A member of the National Theatre Company at the Old Vic from 1972 to 1975, Rigg took leading roles in premiere productions of two Tom Stoppard plays, Dorothy Moore in Jumpers (National Theatre, 1972) and Ruth Carson in Night and Day (Phoenix Theatre, 1978).
In 1982, she appeared in a musical called Colette, based on the life of the French writer and created by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, but it closed during an American tour en route to Broadway. In 1987 she took a leading role in the West End production of Stephen Sondheim's musical Follies.
In the 1990s, she had triumphs with roles at the Almeida Theatre in Islington, including Medea in 1992 (which transferred to the Wyndham's Theatre in 1993 and then Broadway in 1994, for which she received the Tony Award for Best Actress), Mother Courage at the National Theatre in 1995 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Almeida Theatre in 1996 (which transferred to the Aldwych Theatre in 1997).
In 2004, she appeared as Violet Venable in Sheffield Theatres' production of Tennessee Williams's play Suddenly Last Summer, which transferred to the Albery Theatre. In 2006, she appeared at the Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End in a drama entitled Honour which had a limited but successful run. In 2007, she appeared as Huma Rojo in the Old Vic's production of All About My Mother, adapted by Samuel Adamson and based on the film of the same title directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
She appeared in 2008 in The Cherry Orchard at the Chichester Festival Theatre, returning there in 2009 to star in Noël Coward's Hay Fever. In 2011 she played Mrs Higgins in Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre, opposite Rupert Everett and Kara Tointon, having played Eliza Dolittle in the same play in 1974.
Film and television career 
Rigg appeared in the cult British 1960s television series The Avengers (1965–67) playing the secret agent Mrs Emma Peel in 51 episodes, replacing Elizabeth Shepherd at very short notice when Shepherd was dropped from the role after filming two episodes. Rigg auditioned for the role of Emma Peel on a whim, without ever having seen the programme. Although she was hugely successful in the series, she disliked the lack of privacy that it brought. She also did not like the way that she was treated by the Associated British Corporation (ABC). After a dozen episodes she discovered that she was being paid less than a cameraman. For her second season she held out for a pay rise from £150 a week to £450, but there was still no question of her staying for a third year. Patrick Macnee, her co-star in the series, noted that Rigg had later told him that she considered Macnee and her driver to be her only friends on the set.
On the big screen she became a Bond girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), playing Tracy Bond, James Bond's only wife. She said she took the role with the hope that she would become well known in America. Throughout the filming of the movie, there were rumours that the experience was not a happy one, owing to a personality clash with Bond actor George Lazenby. The rumors may have arisen from a reporter witnessing her say "I'm having garlic for lunch George, I hope you are!" before a love scene between the two. However, both Rigg and Lazenby have denied the claims, and both wrote off the garlic comment as a joke.
Her other films from this period include The Assassination Bureau (1969), The Hospital (1971), Theatre of Blood (1973), In This House of Brede (1975) (based on the book by Rumer Godden) and A Little Night Music (1977). She appeared as the title character in The Marquise (1980), a television adaptation of play by Noël Coward. In 1981 she appeared in a Yorkshire Television production of Hedda Gabler in the title role, and as Lady Holiday in the film The Great Muppet Caper (1981). The following year she received acclaim for her performance as Arlena Marshall in the film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun.
She appeared as Regan, the king's treacherous second daughter, in a Granada Television production of King Lear (1983), which starred Laurence Olivier in the title role. She costarred with Denholm Elliot in a television version of Dickens' Bleak House (BBC, 1985), and played the Wicked Queen in the Cannon adaptation of Snow White (1987). In 1989 she played Helena Vesey in Mother Love for the BBC; her portrayal of an obsessive mother who was prepared to do anything, even murder, to keep control of her son won Rigg the 1989 BAFTA for Best Television Actress.
In the 1990s she appeared on television as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (winning an Emmy Award in the process), as well as the PBS production Moll Flanders, and as the amateur detective Mrs. Bradley in The Mrs Bradley Mysteries. In this BBC series, first aired in 2000, she played Gladys Mitchell's detective, Dame Beatrice Adela Le Strange Bradley, an eccentric old woman who worked for Scotland Yard as a pathologist. The series was not a critical success and did not return for a second season.
From 1989 until 2003, she hosted the PBS television series Mystery!, taking over from Vincent Price, her co-star from Theatre of Blood. Her TV career in America has been varied; anomalously she starred in her own sitcom Diana in 1973, but it was not successful.
In 2013 she appeared in an episode of Doctor Who in a Victorian-era based story called The Crimson Horror alongside her daughter Rachael Stirling, Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman. The episode had been specially written for her and her daughter by Mark Gatiss and aired as part of series 7.
That year she also co-starred in the third season of the HBO series Game of Thrones, portraying Lady Olenna Tyrell, a witty and sarcastic political mastermind popularly known as the Queen of Thorns.
Personal life 
Rigg lived with Philip Saville.[when?] Her marriage to Menachem Gueffen, an Israeli painter, lasted from 1973 until their divorce in 1976. She was married to Archibald Stirling, a theatrical producer and former officer in the Scots Guards, from 1982 until they divorced in 1990. The marriage broke up when Stirling had an affair with actress Joely Richardson. With Stirling, Rigg has a daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, who was born in 1977.
Rigg is a Patron of International Care & Relief and was for many years the public face of the charity's child sponsorship scheme. She was also Chancellor of the University of Stirling, being succeeded by James Naughtie when her ten year term of office ended on 31 July 2008.
|1968||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Helena|
|1969||The Assassination Bureau||Sonya Winter|
|1969||On Her Majesty's Secret Service||Tracy|
|1971||The Hospital||Barbara Drummond|
|1973||Theatre of Blood||Edwina Lionheart|
|1977||A Little Night Music||Charlotte Mittelheim|
|1981||The Great Muppet Caper||Lady Holiday|
|1982||Evil Under the Sun||Arlena Marshall|
|1987||Snow White||Evil Queen|
|1994||A Good Man in Africa||Chloe Fanshawe|
|2006||The Painted Veil||Mother Superior|
|1959||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Bit part||TV film|
|1963||The Sentimental Agent||Francy Wilde||Episode: "A Very Desirable Plot"|
|1964||Festival||Adriana||Episode: "The Comedy of Errors"|
|1964||Armchair Theatre||Anita Fender||Episode: "The Hothouse"|
|1965||ITV Play of the Week||Bianca||Episode: "Women Beware Women"|
|1965-1968||The Avengers||Emma Peel||Main role (51 episodes)|
|1970||ITV Saturday Night Theatre||Liz Jardine||Episode: "Married Alive"|
|1973-1974||Diana||Diana Smythe||Main role (15 episodes)|
|1974||Affairs of the Heart||Grace Gracedew||Episode: "Grace"|
|1975||In This House of Brede||Philippa||TV film|
|1977||Three Piece Suite||Various||Regular role (6 episodes)|
|1980||The Marquise||Eloise||TV film|
|1981||Hedda Gabler||Hedda Gabler||TV film|
|1982||BBC Play of the Month||Rita Allmers||Episode: Little Eyolf|
|1982||Witness for the Prosecution||Christine Vole||TV film|
|1983||King Lear||Regan||TV film|
|1985||Bleak House||Lady Honoria Dedlock||TV miniseries|
|1986||The Worst Witch||Miss Constance Hardbroom||TV film|
|1987||A Hazard of Hearts||Lady Harriet Vulcan||TV film|
|1989||The Play on One||Lydia||Episode: "Unexplained Laughter"|
|1989||Mother Love||Helena Vesey||TV miniseries|
|1992||Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris||Mme. Colbert||TV film|
|1993||Road to Avonlea||Lady Blackwell||Episode: "The Disappearance"|
|1993||Running Delilah||Judith||TV film|
|1993||Screen Two||Baroness Frieda von Stangel||Episode: "Genghis Cohn"|
|1995||The Haunting of Helen Walker||Mrs. Grose||TV film|
|1996||The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders||Mrs. Golightly||TV film|
|1996||Samson and Delilah||Mara||TV film|
|1997||Rebecca||Mrs. Danvers||TV miniseries|
|1998||The American||Madame de Bellegarde||TV film|
|1998-2000||The Mrs Bradley Mysteries||Mrs. Adela Bradley||Main role|
|2000||In the Beginning||Mature Rebeccah||TV film|
|2001||Victoria & Albert||Baroness Lehzen||TV miniseries|
|2003||Murder in Mind||Jill Craig||Episode: "Suicide"|
|2003||Charles II: The Power and the Passion||Queen Henrietta Maria||TV miniseries|
|2013||Game of Thrones||Lady Olenna Tyrell||Season 3|
|2013||Doctor Who||Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower||Episode: The Crimson Horror|
|1966||Twelfth Night||Viola||Royal Shakespeare Company|
|1971||Abelard and Heloise||Heloise|
|1974||Pygmalion||Elisa||Albery Theatre, London|
|1975||Night and Day||Ruth||Phoenix Theatre, London|
|1982||Colette||Colette||US national tour|
|1983||Heartbreak House||Lady Ariadne Utterword||Theatre Royal Haymarket, London|
|1985||Little Eyolf||Rita||Lyric Theatre, London|
|1985||Antony and Cleopatra||Cleopatra||Chichester Festival Theatre, UK|
|1986||Wildfire||Bess||Theatre Royal, Bath & Phoenix Theatre, London|
|1987||Follies||Phyllis||Shaftesbury Theatre, London|
|1990||Love Letters||Melissa||Stage Door Theatre, San Francisco|
|1992||Putting It Together||Old Fire Station Theatre, Oxford|
|1992||Berlin Bertie||Rosa||Royal Court Theatre, London|
|1998||Phaedra||Phaedra||Almeida Theatre, London|
|1998||Britannicus||Agrippa||Almedia Theatre, London & New York City|
|2001||Humble Boy||Flora||National Theatre, London|
|2002||The Hollow Crown||Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne|
|2004||Suddenly, Last Summer||Violet||Albery Theatre, London|
|2006||Honour||Honour||Wyndham's Theatre, London|
|2008||The Cherry Orchard||TGanevskya||Chichester Festival Theatre, UK|
Awards and Nominations 
Film & TV 
- 1967: Best Actress in a Drama Series for The Avengers - nominated
- 1968: Best Actress in a Drama Series for The Avengers - nominated
- 1975: Best Actress in a TV Movie for In This House of Brede - nominated
- 1997: Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for Rebecca - won
- 2002: Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for Victoria & Albert- nominated
- 1975 Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture) for The Hospital - nominated
- 1990: Best Actress (Television) for Mother Love - won
- 1971: Best Actress in a Play for Abelard & Heloise - nominated
- 1975: Best Actress in a Play for The Misanthrope - nominated
- 1994: Best Actress in a Play for Medea - won
- 1994: Best Actress for Medea - nominated
- 1996: Best Actress for Mother Courage - nominated
- 1997: Best Actress for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf - nominated
- 1999: Best Actress for Britannicus and Phedre - nominated
- Parkinson, Michael (14 October 2010). Parky's People. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 316. ISBN 978-1-84894-696-5. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- DiPaolo, Marc (31 March 2011). War, Politics and Superheroes: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film. McFarland. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-7864-4718-3. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- Meet... Dame Diana Rigg, BBC South Yorkshire. accessed on 14 July 2006.
- Nigel Farndale (17 August 2008). "Diana Rigg: her story". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- Diana Rigg during her Parkinson Interview September 15, 2007 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpmdE68R_w0&feature=related
- Dave Rogers The Complete Avengers, London: Boxtree, 1989; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989, p.169
- J.G. Lane, "Diana Rigg Biography", accessed 3 December 2010
- Bond's Beauties – James Bond, Diamonds Are Forever, Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Man With the G...
- Doctor Who, "Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling to Star in New Series!", accessed 3 July 2012
- "Dame Diana Rigg Joins Season 3 Of HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' | The Playlist". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Groskop, Viv (17 February 2010), Rachael Stirling is a rising stage star – and she's in love with her ass, London Evening Standard, retrieved 12 June 2011
- Ciaran Brown. "Ciaran Brown meets Avengers actress Dame Diana Rigg". Ciaranbrown.com. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Diana Rigg|
- Diana Rigg at the Internet Broadway Database
- Diana Rigg at the Internet Movie Database
- Diana Rigg at the TCM Movie Database
- DianaRigg.net, unofficial website
Jill St. John