Dame Diana Rigg, 68, was born in Doncaster and brought up in India, where her father was an engineer. She studied at Rada, then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. In the 60s, she made her name playing Emma Peel in The Avengers TV serial. She won a Bafta for her part in the 1989 TV mini-series Mother Love. In 1993, she played the title role in Medea at the Almeida Theatre, London - the play later transferred to Broadway, where her performance won her a Tony award. Her latest film, The Painted Veil, based on a W Somerset Maugham novel, is released next week. She is divorced, and has one daughter, the actor Rachael Stirling.
When were you happiest?
The day my daughter was born. I fell asleep entirely happy.
What is your greatest fear?
Being a dithering, dribbling old bag, having to rely on help for everything.
What is your earliest memory?
Yellow curtains blowing in the breeze and lit by sunshine, when I was small and put to bed in the afternoon.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
An old friend who has been living with Aids for years and never complains or mentions it.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My sudden and explosive temper. It takes a lot to light the blue touchpaper, but when I blow, duck.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
The gratuitous bitchiness women visit on each other. Particularly journalists.
What would your super power be?
I don't believe in super powers - they tend to bully and tread on the lesser.
What makes you depressed?
People leaving litter and dog shit in lovely parks.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Sagging chin line.
Would you rather be clever and ugly, or thick and attractive?
Clever and ugly. If you're clever you can always make people think you are attractive.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
I'd loathe a film or book on my life.
What is the worst thing anyone's said to you?
Years ago, the director John Dexter told me I was getting hard. It knocked me back and I've acted on it ever since.
What do you owe your parents?
The belief in a happy marriage over many years. I didn't achieve it.
What is your favourite book?
The Art Of Eating, by MFK Fisher. Out of print, alas.
What is your favourite word?
'Kindness.' It's rarely used or practised.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
A cooked breakfast, about twice a year.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Anyone I have ever hurt thoughtlessly.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What does love feel like?
Firing on all pistons.
Have you ever said 'I love you' and not meant it?
A certain amount when I was young, never now.
Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Most politicians for their lies and treating us like idiots.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Elizabeth I and her ladies-in-waiting.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
My film career - or lack of - but it's too late now.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
A couple of lovers - ugh!
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Elizabethan era - the first.
When did you last cry, and why?
I visited Thiepval memorial to the Somme recently. All those lost lives broke my heart.
How often do you have sex?
What is the closest you've come to death?
On a climb in Austria years ago. Ill-equipped, amateur and halfway up a chimney, I got stuck and thought I was going to fall to my death.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
No creaking joints.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Never really thought about it. I'm not into self-congratulation.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Knockin' On Heaven's Door, by Bob Dylan.
Tell us a secret.
I never tell secrets. Mine or other people's.