02 July 2007: The Times

Empire's Children

Dame Diana Rigg has come a long way from saving the world from nasty, horrid spies as posh Emma Peel in sixties telly adventure, The Avengers.

But there will be those surprised to know that Diana comes from pretty earthy roots.

Rigg's father Louis was born in the flat cap and ferret world of Doncaster, where he met and married a local girl called Beryl, became an engineer and moved to India to work on the railways.

Louis then worked for a Maharaja and enjoyed a hugely privileged lifestyle, socialising with the aristocracy and being waited on by servants - until the fall of the Empire saw the family return to Britain.

Tonight, Dame Diana returns to India and this fascinating documentary reveals her discovery of the truly opulent lifestyle her family enjoyed.

It highlights the desperate poverty the Indians endured, while the British entered into liaisons with their rulers.

And while the programme doesn't set out to attack the Raj, through meeting Indians who once knew Louis Rigg "the contrast of their lives highlights the glaring inequalities between the haves and the have nots.

And when the camera catches Diana Rigg's guiltridden reactions, it makes for a powerful indictment of the whole colonial system.

Incidentally, back in Blighty Louis struggled to find work, despite once holding a job that would have merited a knighthood had he held the same position in the UK.

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