Heroes of Cult

Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg was born on July 20th 1938 in Doncaster, England. She trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1955-57 in the same class as Glenda Jackson and Siân Phillips.

She has had a long career on the stage including roles in the Royal Shakespeare Company between 1959 and 1964, and has continue to tread the boards through the years including appearing 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 Doolittle 37 years earlier at the Albery Theatre.

It will be of no surprise to say that Diana Rigg first appeared on the Cult Faction radar because of her role as Mrs Emma Peel in The Avengers. Rigg played the role for 51 episodes (1965-67) and auditioned for the role on a whim stating she had never seen an episode! The series rocketed her to global fame but sources state 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.

Rigg also has the distinction of being being Mrs Tracy Bond – the wife of James in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), opposite George Lazenby. 

Rigg went on to appear in The Assassination Bureau (1969), Julius Caesar (1970), The Hospital (1971), Theatre of Blood (1973), In This House of Brede (1975) and A Little Night Music (1977).

Further appearances included the title character in The Marquise, Hedda Gabler, as Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet CaperEvil Under the Sun, King Lear (1983), Bleak HouseSnow White and Mother Love for which she won the 1989 BAFTA for Best Television Actress.

In the 1990’s Rigg made appearances in  Rebecca – a role for which she won an Emmy Award, and also appeared in Moll Flanders and The Mrs Bradley Mysteries. She also hosted the show Mystery!, appeared alongside Ricky Gervais in Extras, and was back on the big screen in 2006’s The Painted Veil.

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.

Rigg appeared as Lady Olenna Tyrell in the third season of Game of Thrones, a role which earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013. She reprised her role in season four of Game of Thrones, and in July 2014 received another Guest Actress Emmy nomination. In 2015 and 2016, she again reprised the role in seasons five, and six in an expanded role from the books.

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