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All About Diana Rigg

Updated on March 6, 2016
Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg

The Career of Dame Diana Rigg

Mention the name of Diana Rigg (born July 20, 1938) to most people and they conjure up a picture of the sexy, leather clad agent, Emma Peel, of the 1960s TV series, The Avengers.

However, there has been so much more to the acting career of one of Britain's most respected and successful actresses.

In addition to her television work, Ms. Rigg has starred in several major movies, but it is in the field of theatre that she has received the accolades and the respect of the acting community and audiences alike.

Here we take a look a one of Britain's finest actresses.

Image: Diana Rigg at Allposters

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I hope there's a tinge of disgrace about me. Hopefully, there's one good scandal left in me yet.

— Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg: The Biography
Diana Rigg: The Biography

Rigg is one of the greatest actresses of our time, and there's finally a biography that covers her life and work. A fun read, and lots of great pics.

 

Diana Rigg Video Montage

Diana Rigg as Mrs. Bradley

Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: The Complete Series
Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: The Complete Series

Mystery lovers will truly enjoy Diana Rigg in the BBC adaption of Mrs Bradley, as she solves crimes set in 1920s England. Superb.

 

All You Ever Wanted To Know About Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg's height is five feet eight and a half inches.

Diana was a guest star in a 2003 episode of the BBC psychological thriller Murder in Mind. She played the character Jill Craig, an apparent suicide victim.

In October 2003, Diana won a 35,000 libel case against two British newspapers that had claimed she was 'an embittered woman who was retiring from acting.'

Diana has one brother called Hugh. He is four years younger.

The actress Elizabeth Shepherd was initially selected to play Steed's new partner following the departure of Honor Blackman in The Avengers. Despite the fact that some filming had already taken place, when the directors saw Diana in Armchair Theatre she was chosen instead.

In a BBC radio interview, Diana said that she loved to go trout and salmon fishing in her spare time.

Diana received a BAFTA Special Award in 2000 for her role as Emma Peel in The Avengers. It was shared jointly with the three other actresses who starred in the show: Honor Blackman, Linda Thorson and Joanna Lumley.

Diana was made Chancellor of Stirling University in October 1998. She is the first woman to hold the post.

She won a Tony Award for her performance in the 1994 Broadway production of Medea.

She has received two Honorary Degrees, one from Leeds University and one from Stirling University.

Diana was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1987.

In the early 1970s, Diana Rigg had her own comedy series called Diana. Only 13 episodes were ever aired.

In 1997, Diana received an EMMY for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Mini Series or Movie for her performance as Mrs Danvers in the ITV production of Rebecca.

The name Emma Peel, her character in The Avengers, is a pun on the phrase 'man appeal'.

She is the mother of Tripping the Velvet star Rachael Stirling.

Diana Rigg became a Dame of the British Empire in 1994 for her outstanding contribution to theatre and film.

1950s Theatre Roles

Year
Role
Play
1957
Natasha Abashwilli
The Caucasian Chalk Circle
1957
Anna Pavlovna-Zvezdintseva
The Fruits of Enlightenment
1958
Vivian
The Passing of the Third Floor Back
1959
Lady
All's Well That Ends Well
1959
Citizen
Othello
1959
Attendant
A Midsummer Night's Dream
1959
Roman Citizen
Coriolanus
1959
Attendant
King Lear

2013: Dame Diana's Appearance in Dr. Who

Diana Rigg on TV

Year
Role
TV Show
1961
Violanta
Ondine
1963
Francy Wilde
The Sentimental Agent (A Very Desirable Plot)
1964
Adriana
The Comedy of Errors
1964
Anita Fender
The Hothouse
1965
Bianca
Women Beware Women
1965-7
Emma Peel
The Avengers
1969
Helena
A Midsummer Night's Dream
1970
Liz Jardine
Married Alive
1973
Diana Smythe
Diana
1974
Grace Gracedew
Affairs of the Heart
1975
Philippa Talbot
In This House of Brede
1977
Various Roles
Three Piece Suite
1979
Klytemnestra
The Serpent Son
1980
Eloise de Kestournel
The Marquise
1981
Hedda Gabler
Hedda Gabler
1982
Rita Allmers
Little Eyolf
1982
Christine Vole
Witness For the Prosecution
1983
Regan
King Lear
1985
Lady Honoria Dedlock
Bleak House
1986
Miss Hardbroom
The Worst Witch
1987
Harriet Vulcan
A Hazard of Hearts
1989
Lydia
Unexplained Laughter
1989
Helena Vesey
Mother Love
1992
Madame Colbert
Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris
1993
Lady Edith Blackwell
The Road to Avonlea (The Disappearance)
1994
Baroness Frieda von Stangel
Genghis Cohn
1995
Evgenia
Zoya
1995
Mrs. Grose
The Haunting of Helen Walker
1996
Mrs. Golightly
Moll Flanders
1996
Mara
Samson and Delilah
1997
Mrs. Danvers
Rebecca
1998-2000
Adela Bradley
Mrs. Bradley Mysteries
1998
Madame de Bellegarde
The American
2000
Mature Rebeccah
In the Beginning
2001
Baroness Lehzen
Victoria & Albert
2003
Jill Craig
Murder in Mind (Suicide)
2003
Queen Henrietta Maria
Charles II: The Power & the Passion
2013
Lady Olenna Redwyne
Game of Thrones
2013
Winifred Gillyflower
Doctor Who (The Crimson Horror)
2015
Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero
Mayor Pink Panda
2015
You, Me and the Apocalypse
Sutton
2015
The Further Adventures of Professor Branestawm
Lady Pagwell
2015
Detectorists
Veronica

Diana Rigg is Emma Peel: The Avengers, 1965-1967

Diana Rigg BAFTA Acceptance

Diana Rigg (along with the other Avengers girls) accepts a BAFTA for the Women of The Avengers in 2000.

1960s Theatre Roles

Year
Role
Play
1960
Lady
The Two Gentleman of Verona
1960
Lady
The Merchant of Venice
1960
Wench
The Taming of the Shrew
1960
Andromache
Troilus & Cressida
1960
Lady
The Winter's Tale
1960
Lady
The Duchess of Malfi
1961
Violanta, Second Ondine
Ondine
1961
Phillipa Tricant
The Devils
1961
Gwendolen
Becket
1961
Bianca
The Taming of the Shrew
1962
President de Tourvel
The Art of Seduction
1962
Helena
A Midsummer Night's Dream
1962
Bianca
The Taming of the Shrew
1962
Lady Macduff
Macbeth
1962
Adriana
The Comedy of Errors
1962
Cordelia
King Lear
1963
Nurse Monika Stettler
The Physicists
1963
Helena
A Midsummer Night's Dream
1963/4
Adriana
The Comedy of Errors
1964
Cordelia
King Lear
1966
Viola
Twelfth Night
Diana Rigg as Diana Smythe
Diana Rigg as Diana Smythe | Source

Diana (1973-74): Diana Rigg's American Sit-Com

An episode of Diana Rigg's ill-fated American comedy series can be seen here.

Created along the lines of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the series only lasted 13 episodes before being axed due to poor ratings.

At one point, her former television partner, Patrick Macnee (John Steed) was brought on to the show in an effort to save it. Sadly, even this failed to stop the inevitable.

Unfortunately, the show has not seen the light of day since its first showing, either on TV or DVD.

1975: Diana With Eric and Ernie

In 1975, Diana appeared on the Christmas Edition of The Morecambe and Wise Show, hamming it up alongside the two legendary comedians.

Here is a clip of the hilarious dance routine featuring the three.

1970s & 1980s Theatre Roles

Year
Role
Play
1970/1
Heloise
Abelard & Heloise
1972
Dottie Moore
Jumpers
1972
Hippolita
'Tis A Pity She's A Whore
1972/3
Lady Macbeth
Macbeth
1973
Dottie Moore
Jumpers
1973
Celimene
The Misanthrope
1974
Eliza Doolittle
Pygmalion
1975
Celimene
The Misanthrope
1976
Phaedra
Phaedra Britannica
1978
Ilona
The Guardsman
1978
Ruth Carson
Night and Day
1982
Colette
Colette
1983
Hesione Hushabye
Heartbreak House
1985
Rita Allmers
Little Eyolf
1985
Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra
1986
Bess Garrison
Wildfire
1987
Phyllis Stone
Follies

Diana Rigg in Honour (2006)

Diana Rigg and Martin Jarvis talk about their starring roles in the play Honour.

Theatre Roles: 1990s to Date

Year
Role
Play
1990
Melissa Gardner
Love Letters
1991
Cleopatra
All For Love
1992
-
Putting It Together
1992
Rosa
Berlin Bertie
1992-1994
Medea
Medea
1995-1996
Anna Fierling
Mother Courage
1996-1997
Martha
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1998
Phaedra
Phaedre
1998
Agrippina
Britannicus
2001
Flora Humble
Humble Boy
2002
Various
The Hollow Crown
2004
Violet Venable
Suddenly, Last Summer
2006
Honor Spencer
Honour
2007
Huma Rojo
All About My Mother
2008
Ranyevskaya
The Cherry Orchard
2009
Judith Bliss
Hay Fever
2011
Mrs. Higgins
Pygmalion
2014
Melissa Gardner
Love Letters

Diana Rigg in The Assassination Bureau

Diana Rigg on Film

Year
Role
Movie
1969
Helena
A Midsummer Night's Dream
1969
Sonya Winter
The Assassination Bureau
1969
Tracy di Vincenzo
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
1969
 
Mini Killers/Das Diadem
1970
Portia
Julius Caesar
1971
Barbara Drummond
The Hospital
1973
Edwina Lionheart
Theatre of Blood
1977
Countess Charlotte Mittelheim
A Little Night Music
1981
Lady Holiday
The Great Muppet Caper
1982
Arlena Stuart Marshall
Evil Under the Sun
1987
Evil Queen
Snow White
1994
Judith
Running Delilah
1994
Chloe Fanshawe
Good Man in Africa
1998
Lisa
Parting Shots
2005
Grandmamma
Heidi
2006
Mother Superior
The Painted Veil
2015
The Narrator
The Honourable Rebel

Tracy di Vincenzo

Diana Rigg: The Bond Girl

Diana Rigg in OHMSS

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Trailer

Theatre Of Blood (1973) (R-Rated): Diana Rigg With Vincent Price

Diana Rigg stars alongside Vincent Price, together with some of the cream of British acting talent: Dennis Price, Harry Andrews, Arthur Lowe, Michael Hordern, Ian Hendry, Coral Browne and Robert Morley.

1973's Theatre Of Blood centres around a ham Shakespearean actor who takes bloody revenge on the critics who refused to give him an acting award. Each murder is committed in the style of a death from one of Shakespeare's works.

1999: Diana Rigg in Conversation

Maybe at this stage in my career, it's from that younger generation that I have most to learn

— Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg At (Almost) 70: In Conversation With Paul O'Grady

Diana Rigg talks to Paul O'Grady on his show of May 2, 2008, two and a half months before her 70th birthday.

The pair speak about several aspects of Dame Diana's career, conducted in O'Grady's always humourous and comic manner, including her time as Emma Peel of The Avengers.

Dame Diana Appears on Loose Women

You May Also Be Interested In...

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Although Honor Blackman's Cathy Gale was the prototype Avengers girl, it was her successor Emma Peel, as portrayed by Diana Rigg...

Joanna Lumley
Joanna Lumley is one of Britain's best loved actresses, having been acting for what is now more than forty years.

About Your Author

With each article, Richard invites you to step into his world of music, television and entertainment. He will introduce you to British Glam Rock, share The 20 Scariest Film Scores Ever? and even give you an up close look at some classic actors such as Christopher Lee as Dracula.

For a complete list of Richard's articles, please visit Richard's profile.

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    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      Yes, I think of Mrs Peel when I hear Diana Rigg's name. What do you expect from an American? I did know that she was also a "Bond girl" in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

      TonyB

    • profile image

      grannysage 4 years ago

      Diana Rigg was the best Emma Peel. I'm impressed with the volume of work she has done since. I wanted to watch the videos but am on a bandwidth ration so will have to come back later.

    • profile image

      grannysage 4 years ago

      Diana Rigg was the best Emma Peel. I'm impressed with the volume of work she has done since. I wanted to watch the videos but am on a bandwidth ration so will have to come back later.

    • dave-sutton profile image

      dave-sutton 5 years ago

      Strange thing is that I found this lens by searching for amateur radio.

      As a young man I fell in love with Emma Peel, to my way of thinking the sexiest assistant ever in the avengers. You brought back some erotic memories and that is not good for an old man :0)

    • profile image

      jcolt7 5 years ago

      Thank you for the great lens about a fantastic actress!

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