WCW: Diana Rigg


Diana Rigg is easily my first true woman crush. I wanted to be Emma Peel when I was four years old. As I say in the bio I use for Costume College and similar places, my first costume was tights and a trench coat as a toddler, when I ran around pretending to be Mrs. Peel. That early role of Diana Rigg’s was the epitome of a kick-ass cool woman, and I wanted to be just like her. Kids today probably know her as the devious and snarky Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones, but you can also catch her in the latest episodes of Victoria. And this Shakespearean actress shows no signs of stopping. As Dame Rigg has said: “The older you get, I have to say, the funnier you find life. That’s the only way to go. If you get serious about yourself as you get old, you are pathetic.” Words to live by!


Mrs. Peel in The Avengers, “Escape in Time” (1966)

I can’t remember if she’s time-traveling or it’s just fancy-dress, but I’m including it!


Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau (1969)
Diana Rigg, The Assassination Bureau (1969)

It’s a turn-of-the-last-century murder-mystery thing.


Portia in Julius Caesar (1970)
DianaRigg, Julius Caesar (1970)

With Jason Robards as Brutus.


Charlotte Mittelheim in A Little Night Music (1977)

The 1900s costumes by Florence Klotz were nominated for an Oscar.


Clytemnestra in Oresteia (1979)
Diana Rigg, Oresteia (1979)

Bad-ass vengeful women, FTW!


Hedda Gabler in Hedda Gabler (1981)
Diana Rigg, Hedda Gabler (1981)

Ever dramatic.


Christine Vole in Witness for the Prosecution (1982)
Diana Rigg, Witness for the Prosecution (1982)

An Agatha Christie adaption.


Regan in King Lear (1983)
Diana Rigg, King Lear (1983)

With Laurence Olivier in the title role.


Arlena Marshall in Evil Under the Sun (1982)

1930s glam.


Lady Honoria Dedlock in Bleak House (1985)
Diana Rigg, Bleak House (1985)

With Denholm Elliott as John Jarndyce.


Lady Harriet Vulcan in A Hazard of Hearts (1987)
Diana Rigg, A Hazard of Hearts (1987)

A Regency romance based on a Barbara Cartland novel, also starring Helena Bonham Carter. Maybe I can find this for Snark Week…


Lady Blackwell in Avonlea, “The Disappearance” (1993)
Diana Rigg, Avonlea (1993)

Just being a completist here.


Mrs. Golightly in The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (1996)
Diana Rigg, The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (1996)

Rigg plays a very important role in, ehem, relation to Alex Kingston’s Moll Flanders.


Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (1997)
Diana Rigg, Rebecca (1997)

Rigg won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of the suspicious housekeeper in this adaption of the Daphne du Maurier novel.


Adela Bradley in The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries (1998-2000)
The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries (1998)

A short-lived but FABULOUS series. Find it, watch it, love it!


Baroness Lehzen in Victoria & Albert (2001)
Diana Rigg, Victoria & Albert (2001)

With Victoria Hamilton as the queen.


Queen Henrietta Maria in The Last King (2003)
The Last King - Charles II: The Power & the Passion (2003)

Rockin’ the widow’s weeds and telling everyone off.



Grandmamma in Heidi (2005)
Diana Rigg, Heidi (2005)

Yes, the children’s tale.


Mother Superior in The Painted Veil (2006)
Diana Rigg, The Painted Veil (2006)

A nun advising an unhappy couple working in rural 1930s China.


Mrs. Gillyflower in Doctor Who, “The Crimson Horror” (2013)
Dame Diana Rigg gets a good Victorian mourning gown.

Rigg plays the founder of a utopian community in 1880s Yorkshire who is actually trying to launch a rocket and poison the world (and is stopped by the Doctor, of course).


Duchess of Buccleuch in Victoria (2017)
Diana Rigg, Victoria (2017)

And she just keeps going!


What’s your favorite historical costume movie or TV role of Diana Rigg’s?


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