Dame Diana Rigg as Emma Peel & Patrick McNee as John Steed in The Avengers {image via the Associated British Corporation}

Dame Diana Rigg, best known for playing Mrs. Peel in The Avengers, has died at the age of 82. She was diagnosed with cancer in March.

Her theatrical career stretched from 1957, when she made her professional stage debut, until 2020. Her final role was as Mother Dorothea in the TV mini-series Black Narcissus, which is currently in post-production and scheduled fpr broadcast in 2021.

SCIFI.radio fans will remember her as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones and as Countess Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the woman who made playboy bachelor James Bond a widower. She was also Sonya Winter in the cult classic The Assassination Bureau, for which she was nominated for a Laurel Award. She co-starred in The Great Muppet Caper as Lady Holiday. She appeared in Doctor Who as Mrs. Gillyflower in “The Crimson Horror” and in The Worst Witch as Miss Constance Hardbroom. She voiced Mayor Pink Panda in the cartoon Penn Zero – Part-Time Hero. She played the wicked stepmother in the 1987 live-action version of Snow White.

Dame Diana Rigg as Her Grace, the Duchess of Buccleuch in Victoria {image via ITV}

Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg was born July 20, 1938 in Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK. She died September 10, 2020, in London, England, UK, passing away peacefully in her own home, with her family beside her. She won awards for her work on stage, in TV, and on film. Queen Elizabeth II created her Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1994 for her contributions to theater and film. Her Majesty had previously been made a CBE (Companion of the British Empire) in 1988.

Dame Diana was married and divorced twice, first to artist Menachem Gueffen, from 1973 to 1976, and then to theatrical producer Archie Stirling from 1982 to 1990, the father of her only child, actress Rachael Stirling (Anna in Snow White and the Huntsman).

Dame Diana starred as Medea on stage in both London and New York City and won a Tony for the role in 1994. It was the third of her four Tony nominations. She won the BAFTA Award for Best Television Actress for playing Helena Vesey in Mother Love.


Editor’s note: In The Avengers, the name “Emma Peel” came from the producers wanting a character on The Avengers to appeal to men, or have M. Appeal.

Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.