Dame Diana Rigg, CBE (pictured left), has been appointed as the new Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre. She will succeed Thelma Holt, CBE, as the tenth holder of the Chair, which is associated with a professorship at St Catherine's College. She will take up the position in January 1999.
Awarded a CBE in 1988, and created a Dame of the British Empire in 1994, Miss Rigg has enjoyed international acclaim as a stage and screen actor.
She was accepted for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1955, making her professional debut in a RADA production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the York Festival in 1957.
After appearing with repertory companies in Chester and York, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1959, before making her London debut at the Aldwych in 1961.
Returning to Stratford in 1962 she took major roles in a number of plays, including Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Cordelia in King Lear. In 1971 she starred in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers at the National Theatre, as well as playing Lady Macbeth, and Celimene in The Misanthrope.
Her role in the Greek tragedy Medea, firstly at the Almeida (1992), and then at the Wyndhams (1993–4), brought her critical acclaim and The Evening Standard Award for Best Actress. She also won a Tony award following the New York production in 1994.
In 1995 she played the title role in Mother Courage at the National Theatre, and more recently she has appeared in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and can currently be seen on stage in Britannicus.
However, Miss Rigg is best known for her television roles, including Emma Peel in The Avengers, and television productions of Bleak House, Moll Flanders, King Lear, Little Eyolf, and Hedda Gabler. She won a BAFTA award for her portrayal of the obsessive matriarch in Mother Love, and an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs Danvers in a television version of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.
Her film credits include On Her Majesty's Secret Service, A Little Night Music, and A Good Man in Africa.
Miss Rigg is Chairman of the Islington Festival; member of the Council of the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts, and Vice-President of the charity Baby Life Support Systems (BLISS).
Miss Rigg has yet to announce her programme. Previous holders of the Chair include Richard Eyre and Lord Attenborough.