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Dame Diana Rigg: Avengers, Bond and Game of Thrones actress dies at 82

Diana Rigg

Actress Dame Diana Rigg, famous for roles including Emma Peel in TV series The Avengers and Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, has died at the age of 82.

Her daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, said she died of cancer, after being diagnosed in March.

“She spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession,” she added.

Dame Diana also played the only woman who became Mrs James Bond.

She played Tracy in 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Twitter post by @GameOfThrones: Be a dragon.The realm will always remember Diana Rigg.

Her more recent roles included the Duchess of Buccleuch in ITV’s Victoria and Mrs Pumphrey in Channel 5’s new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small.

Samuel West, who plays Siegfried in the show, said: “Doesn’t really make sense to think of her having died. She generally lived the hell out of everyone.”

Dame Diana Rigg in Game of Thrones
Image captionOlenna Tyrell made her final appearance in Game of Thrones last year

Stirling said: “My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family. I will miss her beyond words.”

Sir Tom Stoppard paid tribute to her “luminous” talent, while fellow playwright Sir David Hare said the actress had a “dazzling change of direction in middle age as a great classical actor”.

‘She swept all before her’

He said: “When Emma Peel played Euripides’ Medea, Albee’s Martha and Brecht’s Mother Courage she swept all before her.”

Her four Tony Awards nominations resulted in a win for her searing portrayal in the leading role in the stage play Medea in 1994.

James Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said: “Our love and thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.” Sherlock writer and actor Mark Gatiss fondly recalled working with her, while Stephen Merchant remembered her in a scene from his show Extras.

Twitter post by @Markgatiss: It was my great joy and privilege to have known Diana Rigg. From three slightly hysterical months at the Old Vic in ‘All About Mother’ to writing The Crimson Horror for Diana and her wonderful daughter Rachael. Flinty, fearless, fabulous. There will never be another. RIP
Twitter post by @StephenMerchant: RIP Dame Diana Rigg. Great actress and good sport - lest we forget, she let Daniel Radcliffe flick a condom on her head in Extras.

Director Jonathan Kent added that her “combination of force of personality, beauty, courage and sheer emotional power, made her a great classical actress – one of an astonishing generation of British stage performers”.

He said: “Her dazzling wit and that inimitable voice made her an unforgettable leading figure in British theatre.”

Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg in The Avengers
Image captionPatrick Macnee played John Steed and Rigg played Emma Peel in The Avengers [pictured in 1965]

Her agent Simon Beresford said she “died at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time”.

He added: “Dame Diana was force of nature who loved her work and her fellow actors.”

Last year, Dame Diana spoke of her delight at her role in Game of Thrones, telling the BBC: “I love playing bad [characters]. They are so much more interesting than good.

“There are some actors who don’t like to play bad; they like to be liked. I love to be disliked. Olenna had the best lines.”

In 1990, Dame Diana won a best actress Bafta TV award for playing a difficult mother-in-law in Mother Love. She also won a Bafta special award in 2000 for The Avengers, shared with the series’ other stars Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley and Linda Thorson.

Dame Diana was also nominated for nine primetime Emmy awards, winning for her role as Mrs Danvers in Rebecca in 1997.


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