Dame Diana Rigg: Actress dies aged 82


Dame Diana RiggImage copyright
EPA

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Dame Diana was given a special award last year at the Canneseries TV festival

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.

“She died peacefully early this morning. She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time,” her agent said.

Dame Diana is also known for playing Tracy, the only woman who became Mrs James Bond, in 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

She also appeared in ITV’s Victoria.

She played the Duchess of Buccleuch in the royal drama, and can currently be seen playing Mrs Pumphrey in Channel 5’s new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small.

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HBO/Kobal/Shutterstock

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Olenna Tyrell made her final appearance in Game of Thrones last year

Her daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, said: “My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family.

“She died of cancer diagnosed in March, and spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words.”

Sir Tom Stoppard added: “For half her life Diana was the most beautiful woman in the room, but she was what used to be called a Trouper. She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone. Her talent was luminous.”

‘She swept all before her’

Fellow playwright Sir David Hare said the actress had a “dazzling change of direction in middle age as a great classical actor”.

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.

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.”

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PA Media

Image caption

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

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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