Dame Diana Rigg remembered as actress who ‘swept all before her’

The Avengers star has died at the age of 82.

Diana Rigg in 1969
Diana Rigg in 1969

Dame Diana Rigg has been remembered as an actress who “swept all before her” after her death at the age of 82.

Best known for her roles in The Avengers, Game Of Thrones and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the veteran star of stage and screen was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

She died peacefully at home, her daughter said.

A statement from her agent Simon Beresford said: “It is with tremendous sadness that we announce that Dame Diana Rigg died peacefully early this morning.

“She was at home with her family, who have asked for privacy at this difficult time.

Diana Rigg death
Patrick Macnee, as John Steed, and Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers (PA)

“Dame Diana was an icon of theatre, film and television.

“She was the recipient of Bafta, Emmy, Tony and Evening Standard Awards for her work on stage and screen.”

He added: “Dame Diana was a much-loved and admired member of her profession, a force of nature who loved her work and her fellow actors.

“She will be greatly missed.”

Diana Rigg death
Dame Diana Rigg and daughter Rachael Stirling (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Her daughter, the 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.”

Dame Diana was best known for her roles as Emma Peel in the TV series The Avengers and more recently for playing Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, for which she was nominated for a string of Emmys.

Dame Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell in Game Of Thrones (HBO)

She also played Countess Teresa di Vicenzo, the only woman to ever marry James Bond, opposite George Lazenby in his only outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Dame Diana also had roles in ITV’s Victoria and Channel 5’s All Creatures Great And Small, and won an Emmy for playing Mrs Danvers in Rebecca in 1997.

Dame Diana Rigg as Mrs Pumphrey with her dog Tricki Woo in All Creatures Great And Small (Playground Television UK Ltd/PA)

She won a Bafta in 1990 for her role in Mother Love.

Dame Diana was also highly acclaimed theatre actress and earned the first of three Tony nominations for her role in the Ronald Millar play Abelard and Heloise.

Diana Rigg Recieves Honour
Rigg at Buckingham Palace to be made a dame (David Giles/PA)

The actress was made a dame in 1994 for services to drama.

Playwright Sir David Hare said: “Diana Rigg had a dazzling change of direction in middle age as a great classical actor.

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

Fellow playwright Sir Tom Stoppard said: “For half her life, Diana was the most beautiful woman in the room but she was what used to be called a trooper.

“She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone.

“Her talent was luminous.”

Theatre director Jonathan Kent said: “Diana Rigg’s 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.

“I was so fortunate to direct her in a series of great classical roles – Medea, Phedre – in Ted Hughes’ version, specially written for her – Mother Courage and Dryden’s Cleopatra.

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

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