December 1964: ABC Biography

Diana Rigg

In its time, ABC Armchair Theatre, has helped substantially to make the names of a number of actors and actresses who today have found a wider fame in films. Susannah York had seven film offers on the day after her big break with ABC in 1959. Alan Bates was taken up by the film companies after a series of Armchair Theatre roles, and Harry H. Corbett's rise to stardom was helped by seven big parts for ABC.

On 13th Decembers, Mr Corbett returns to Armchair Theatre in a Donald Churchill comedy called "The Hothouse". Making her television debut as his wife is a willowy, brown-eyed, auburn haired Yorkshire girl of 26 named Diana Rigg. And ABC predicts that Miss Rigg could have a very bright future indeed.

...if, however, she gets the right breaks. For Diana Rigg is not a conventional beauty, and she is unusually tall: 5'8 1/2" to be exact. She is also by way of being a comedienne as well as a dramatic actress, and leading ladies with a gift for clowning do not always find their path as smooth as those whose talents fit a more conventional mould.

Nevertheless, with trends in entertainment returning more and more to sophisticated comedy, there is beginning to be a premium on girls who can look glamorous and toss off a witty line. So Miss Rigg, with her fashion-model figure and solid theatrical training in both comedy and drama, may well find a ready market for her particular talents.

For the past five years, Diana Rigg has been with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford and in London, playing classical and modern roles in productions such as "Ondine", "Becket", "The Devils" and "The Physicists". She had notable comedy successes as Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and in "A Comedy of Errors", which she played before the Queen at Windsor Castle this summer.

In this play, Diana Rigg toured Europe and America with the Company earlier this year. They visited Moscow and other Iron Curtain capitals, and went across the Atlantic to New York. But Miss Rigg's most important role on the tour and at the Aldwych in 1963 was as Cordelia to Paul Scofield's "King Lear". She won critical acclaim for playing Cordelia not as a frail, tearful heroine but as a resolute young Amazon with spear and shield, well able to hold her own against the father who did her wrong.

Since she left the Royal Shakespeare Company recently to try her luck in other media, Diana Rigg has recorded "The Hothouse" for ABC and in January will be seen in the Jacobean comedy "Women, Beware Women" for Granada. Her career began in repertory at Chesterfield, followed by a season at York before she went to Stratford in 1959.

Diana Rigg was born at Doncaster in July 1938 and spent her early life at Jodhpur in Rajputana, where her father was in the Indian Civil Service. She was sent home to a prep school in Buckinghamshire until her parents returned to settle in Leeds, where she finished her education at Fulneck Girls' School.

From thence she went to RADA, where she claims her record was undistinguished. On leaving she had a difficult time getting a start in the theatre on account of her unusual type, and spent four months as a fashion model - an experience which in fact has proved of value, since it taught her how to wear clothes with elegance and flair.

At her mews flat in Bayswater, Diana Rigg enjoys cooking for her friends, her specialty being lamb roasted with peaches and garlic. When she visits her parents in Leeds, she loves to walk on the moors - "I'. an outdoor girl at heart", she says. Outdoor or indoor, ABC hopes that Miss Rigg will join the list of gifted young players whom they have helped on the road to stardom.

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