December 13, 2020
20 July 1938 – 10 September 2020
Diana Rigg remembered by Mark Gatiss
The Actor and writer, who wrote an episode of Doctor Who for Rigg, recalls the joy of seeing her flit effortlessly between serious drama and outrageous campRuth Bader Ginsburg remembered by Lisa Beattie FrelinghuysenRead the Observer’s obituaries of 2020 in fullA mid-week matinee. The theatre echoes with the thin, tinny whistling of the audience’s hearing aids. In the shadowed wings, there’s discussion of a much-loved and respected actor. The younger cast members are full of admiration. “I mean, a lovely man, darling,” whispers Diana Rigg as she breezes past me to make her entrance. “But breath like a serpent.”
What first met you was the presence. Diana sailed into a room like a galleon, draped in a stylish shawl, the blond bob framing those famous cheekbones. We were performing together at the Old Vic in Samuel Adamson’s version of All About My Mother, she as the actor Huma Rojo and I as her dresser, Agrado. It was a glorious, naughty time. She would eat a pork pie before every show and sit on the stairs, smoking furiously. “Exiled,” she would groan, waving a hand at the top floor rehearsal room. On the wall of that room, a framed photo of Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson in the same, happily haunted, space. Diana had been there before, of course, back in the early 70s, doing a disastrous Macbeth with Anthony Hopkins. Olivier had attended the first run-through, which was met with total silence. As the cast trooped out, Olivier beckoned to Diana. This was the moment. She awaited the sage advice from “Sir” that would unlock her Lady M. “I couldn’t help noticing,” said Olivier, “that you weren’t wearing a brassiere.”
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