Rachael Stirling

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Rachael Stirling
Born (1977-05-30) 30 May 1977 (age 46)
St Marylebone, London, England[1]
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Years active1997–present
(m. 2016)

Rachael Atlanta Stirling (born 30 May 1977)[2][3] is an English stage, film and television actress. She has been nominated twice for the Laurence Olivier Award for her stage work. She played Nancy Astley in the BBC drama Tipping the Velvet, and Millie in the ITV series The Bletchley Circle. She has also guest starred in Lewis and one episode of Doctor Who, co-starring with her mother Diana Rigg.

Early life and education[edit]

Stirling was born in St Marylebone, London, England and is the daughter of actress Diana Rigg and theatre producer Archibald Stirling, Laird of Keir.[4] Her parents married in 1982 and divorced in 1990.[5]

Stirling attended Wycombe Abbey School. She graduated with a BA in art history from the University of Edinburgh, where she performed with the Edinburgh University Theatre Company.[2][6]


Stirling made her first major appearance on stage in 1997 as Desdemona in the National Youth Theatre revival of Othello at the Arts Theatre opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role.[2] A year later, again at the Arts Theatre with the NYT, she played Olive in the female version of The Odd Couple; while in 1998, portraying Kate in Dancing at Lughnasa for NYT at the Arts. She next appeared in a variety of roles in plays such as Dusty Hughes' Helpless (Donmar Warehouse, 2000); A Woman of No Importance (Theatre Royal Haymarket, 2003); Anna in the Tropics (Hampstead Theatre, 2004); and Tamburlaine (Bristol Old Vic and Barbican, 2005), and she followed in her mother's footsteps as Lionheart's daughter in the National Theatre stage version of Theatre of Blood (2005). In 2006, for the Peter Hall Company at the Theatre Royal, Bath, she played Helena in Peter Gill's revival of Look Back in Anger, while in 2007 at Wilton's Music Hall in London, she starred as Yelena in David Mamet's version of Uncle Vanya,[7] and as Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew.[8]

Stirling starred onstage in The Priory directed by Jeremy Herrin at the Royal Court Theatre in 2009. Her role as Rebecca earned her a nomination for Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role.[4][9] In 2010 she appeared as Helena in Peter Hall's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.[4] Stirling starred as Lady Chiltern in a 2010 production of An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theatre, for which she received her second nomination for a Laurence Olivier Award.[10][9] From February to April 2012, she appeared as Sylvia alongside Mark Gatiss, Tobias Menzies, and Nancy Carroll in The Recruiting Officer, the production at the Donmar Warehouse directed by newly appointed artistic director Josie Rourke.


Stirling's first screen appearance was in the 1998 British comedy film Still Crazy.[2]

Other film appearances include Maybe Baby, Redemption Road (2001), Complicity (with her Tipping the Velvet co-star Keeley Hawes), Another Life (with Vanity Fair actress Natasha Little), The Triumph of Love (with Mira Sorvino), as Mary Jones in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and as Anna in Snow White and the Huntsman.


Stirling's first break in television was in the 2000 NBC miniseries In the Beginning, which was adapted from Genesis.[2] Stirling played the young Rebeccah, with her mother, Diana Rigg, as the older Rebeccah. Her next notable role was Nan Astley in the 2002 BBC drama series Tipping the Velvet.[9]

In 2003, she appeared as Caroline Crale in Agatha Christie's Poirot episode "Five Little Pigs".

In 2011, Stirling starred in the BBC Four adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love as Ursula Brangwen.[10] She portrayed Millie in both series of the ITV mystery drama The Bletchley Circle in 2012 and 2014,[9] and reprised the role in The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco (2018).

Stirling appeared in a 2013 episode of Doctor Who titled "The Crimson Horror" alongside her mother.[9] The episode had been specially written for Stirling and her mother by Mark Gatiss (marking the very first appearance of the two actresses together professionally) and was aired on 4 May 2013 as part of Series 7.[11]

In 2014, Stirling portrayed Kate Wilkinson in the Cold War spy thriller television series The Game,[9] and appeared in the BBC Four comedy drama Detectorists as Becky, initially girlfriend, then wife, of Andy (played by Mackenzie Crook), also featuring alongside her mother, Diana Rigg, who played Becky's mother.

Stirling appeared as a guest on the BBC1 cookery programme Saturday Kitchen Live which was broadcast on 1 March 2014.[12]

In 2015, Stirling played the part of Arabella Yount, the spendthrift wife of a banker, in the three-part BBCs series Capital based on John Lanchester's novel of the same name.[13]

In December 2016, Stirling appeared on University Challenge at Christmas as part of a team made up of notable alumni of the University of Edinburgh.

In 2021, she starred in the ITV television drama series Hollington Drive.

Other work[edit]

Stirling is an occasional interviewer on the BBC Radio 4 chat show Loose Ends,[4] and presented the station's programme Stage Door in December 2012. She also wrote a restaurant column for Diplomat magazine.[4][14][15]

Stirling took part in Occupy London's reading of Dickens' A Christmas Carol on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral, London in December 2011.

In 2014, Stirling appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 4's Midweek with Libby Purves, Roger Bannister and Kevin Warwick.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Stirling can speak Russian and is experienced in horse riding and jumping.[2] Until 2012, she was engaged to actor Oliver Chris, whom she had been dating since 2007.[17] Stirling married musician and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey on 3 June 2016.[18] They have one son, born in April 2017.[19]


Year Film/Show Role Notes
1998 Still Crazy Clare Knowles
2000 Maybe Baby Joanna
Complicity Claire
In the Beginning Young Rebeccah TV film
2001 Redemption Road Becky
Another Life Avis Graydon
The Triumph of Love Corine
Othello Lulu TV film
2002 Tipping the Velvet Nan Astley TV series (3 episodes)
Dallas OUT TAKES—Best Actress
Bait Stephanie Raeburn TV film
2003 Agatha Christie's Poirot Caroline Crale TV series (Episode: "Five Little Pigs")
2004 Freeze Frame Katie Carter
Agatha Christie's Marple Griselda Clement TV series (Episode: "The Murder at the Vicarage")
The Final Quest Young Annabelle TV film
2005 Riot at the Rite Marie Rambert TV film
2006 Beyond Guilean Hade TV film
The Truth Martha
Hotel Babylon Nina Bailey TV series (Episode: "Episode No. 1.1")
The Haunted Airman Julia Jugg TV film
2007 Dangerous Parking Kirstin
2008 Lewis Zöe Kenneth TV series (Episode: "Life Born of Fire")
2009 The Young Victoria Duchess of Sutherland
Minder Eve Cornell TV series (Episode: "Thank Your Lucky Stars")
Boy Meets Girl Veronica Burton TV series (4 episodes)
2010 Centurion Druzilla
2011 Women in Love Ursula Brangwen TV series
2012 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Mary Jones Film
Snow White & the Huntsman Anna Film
The Bletchley Circle Millie TV series
2013 Doctor Who Ada Gillyflower Series 7 (Episode: "The Crimson Horror")
Sixteen Laura Film
2014 The Game Kate Wilkinson TV series
2014–2022 Detectorists Becky TV series
2015 Scottish Mussel Ms Pringle Film
Capital Arabella Yount TV series
2016 Their Finest Phyl Moore Film
Churchill's Secret Sarah Churchill TV film
2018 The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco Millie TV series spin-off of The Bletchley Circle
2019 Wild Bill Lady Mary Harborough
2020 Life Kelly Aston
2021 Hollington Drive Helen
2021 Midsomer Murders Eleanor Karras TV series (season 22; episode 5–6/12: Happy Families)
2023 Heartstopper Amanda Olsson TV series (Season 2, Episodes 7 and 8)
2023 The Chelsea Detective Rebekah Chaban Episode: "The Blue Room"


  1. ^ "FreeBMD District Info".
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Drama Faces – Rachael Stirling". BBC. January 2006. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011..
  3. ^ "England & Wales birth index 1916–2005". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 8 January 2013..
  4. ^ a b c d e Groskop, Viv (17 February 2010). "Rachael Stirling is a rising stage star – and she's in love with her ass". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011..
  5. ^ Farndale, Nigel. "Diana Rigg: Her Story". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  6. ^ "Bedlam Theatre | Rachael Stirling". Bedlam Theatre. 20 April 2013. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013 – via old.bedlamtheatre.co.uk.
  7. ^ Uncle Vanya The Stage, 29 January 2007 – Review of Stirling in Uncle Vanya
  8. ^ "The Taming of the Shrew". The Times. 24 March 2007.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Lockyer, Daphne (5 January 2014). "Rachael Stirling: 'I should have asked my Ma's advice'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  10. ^ a b Radford, Ceri (24 March 2011). "Rachael Stirling: 'It's not all about sordid rutting'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Doctor Who: Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling to Star in New Series!". BBC. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  12. ^ "BBC One – Saturday Kitchen, 01/03/2014". BBC.
  13. ^ "BBC One: Capital". BBC. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Diplomat Magazine – All articles by Rachael Stirling". Diplomat Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2011.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ Stirling, Rachel (11 October 2009). "Cinnamontastic: The Cinnamon Club". Diplomat Magazine. Archived from the original on 20 April 2012.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  16. ^ "Sir Roger Bannister, Prof Kevin Warwick, Rachael Stirling, Diana Darke, Midweek – BBC Radio 4". BBC.
  17. ^ "Oliver Chris on Hating Earnest Actors, Loving Judi Dench & How One Man, Two Guvnors Saved Him". Broadway.com. Retrieved 5 July 2012..
  18. ^ Walters, Sarah (9 June 2016). "Guy Garvey has married actress girlfriend Rachael Stirling". Manchester Evening News.
  19. ^ Curtis, Nick (8 April 2017). "Rachel Stirling on life as Diana Rigg's daughter and her whirlwind romance with Elbow's Guy Garvey". The Daily Telegraph – via www.telegraph.co.uk.

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