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Diana Rigg: A career in pictures

Written by on 10 September 2020

Diana Rigg, star of The Avengers and Game of Thrones, has passed away at the age of 82.

The actress was born in Doncaster in 1938, and made her screen debut in 1959 in a TV version on the Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It was not until 1965 that she became a household name, appearing as iconic spy Emma Peel in The Avengers – a role which scored her an Emmy award in the US.

Diana Rigg. Pic: Studio Canal/Shutterstock
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Diana Rigg in The Avengers. Pics: Studio Canal/Shutterstock

It is thought she threatened to walk away from the show unless she was given equal pay, after she discovered she was being paid less than the cameramen. Producers agreed, due to the show’s popularity in the US.

She appeared in The Avengers for around three years, when she left to pursue other projects.

Diana Rigg. Pic: Studio Canal/Shutterstock
Image:
Pic: Studio Canal/Shutterstock

Her next major project was the role of Tracy Bond in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969, opposite George Lazenby.

To date, she has been the only wife of James Bond in the series, and said she took the role to try to boost her image in the US.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diana Rigg, George Lazenby. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock
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Diana Rigg played James Bond’s wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock
On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diana Rigg, George Lazenby. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock
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Diana Rigg and George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

Rigg also starred in the adventure comedy, The Assassination Bureau, alongside Oliver Reed in 1969.

The Assassination Bureau, Diana Rigg, Oliver Reed
Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock
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Rigg in The Assassination Bureau with Oliver Reed
Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

She went on to appear in the NBC TV show Diana in the US, a short-lived comedy series filmed in front of a live audience in Los Angeles in 1973.

In 1974, Rigg married Israeli artist Menachem Gueffen, but divorced only three years later.

Pic: Bob Taylor/Shutterstock

VARIOUS - 1974
DIANA RIGG WITH HER HUSBAND MENAHEM GUEFFEN

1974
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Rigg married Israeli artist Menachem Gueffen in 1973. Pic: Bob Taylor/Shutterstock

She remarried in 1982 to theatre producer and former solider Archie Stirling, who had a daughter – Rachael Stirling. However, the pair divorced in 1990 after Stirling had an affair.

Diana Rigg Actress With Daughter Rachel Stirling. Pic: Chris Barham/ANL/Shutterstock
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Rachel Stirling, Rigg’s daughter, was born in 1977. Pic: Chris Barham/ANL/Shutterstock

Rigg took on a number of roles in the 80s, including in a film version of the Agatha Christie novel Evil Under The Sun, alongside Dame Maggie Smith, and an adaptation of the children’s book, The Worst Witch, opposite Tim Curry.

Evil Under The Sun, Diana Rigg, Maggie Smith, 1982. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock
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Rigg in Evil Under The Sun with Dame Maggie Smith, 1982. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

She also starred in a TV version of King Lear in 1983 alongside Laurence Olivier.

Laurence Olivier as King Lear and Diana Rigg as daughter Regan. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock
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Laurence Olivier as King Lear and Diana Rigg as daughter Regan. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock

In 1997, she appeared in the TV adaptation of Rebecca, with Charles Dance (who she would later work with in Game of Thrones), and won a Primetime Emmy for her work.

Pic: ITV/Shutterstock

VARIOUS ITV TV PROGRAMMES`
CHARLES DANCE, EMILIA FOX AND DIANA RIGG IN 'REBECCA' - 1997

1997
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Rigg (R) was in the TV adaptation of Rebecca with Emilia Fox (C) and Charles Dance. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock

Throughout her career she performed on stage across the UK, in shows like Follies, Twelfth Night and Pygmalion – a show she worked in as late as 2019.

Pic: Judy Totton/Shutterstock

'One Knight Only' at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, Britain - 20 Mar 2005
Eileen Atkins, Helen Mirren, Joan Plowright, Diana Rigg and Judi Dench

20 Mar 2005
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Rigg (top right) on stage for One Night Only at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, in London. Pic: Judy Totton/Shutterstock
Pic: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock

'Love Love Love' play, After Party, London, UK - 11 Mar 2020
Rachael Stirling (Sandra) and Diana Rigg

11 Mar 2020
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Rigg (R) and her daughter in 2020, at the Love Love Love after party. Pic: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock

However, in the modern era, she is widely recognised for her work on Game of Thrones, where she played the role of Olenna Tyrell.

It was her last major television role before her death, and departed in 2017, when she dramatically revealed one of the story’s best kept secrets.

Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell in Game Of Thrones. Pic: Sky UK
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Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell in Game Of Thrones. Pic: Sky UK

Next year, a horror film called Last Night In Soho will open, starring Rigg alongside Matt Smith, and a TV mini-series called Black Narcissus, based on a novel of the same name, will also hit screens, marking some of the last work that Rigg took part in.