Dame Diana Rigg


  1. Jean Seberg, Paint Your Wagon, 1968.    Too busy – marrying George Lazenby’s 007 in  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and tending her ill father – to accept Alan Jay Lerner’s invitation.  Julie Andrews  (and her usual reserve: Sally Ann Howes), Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow,  Lesley Ann Warren and Tuesday Weld all passed on the rose between two thorns, Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. Kim Novak pounced. But the US star of the French nouvelle vague won Elizabeth and, for a while, Eastwood. She even started divorcing hubby for him. Until the unit returned from Oregon  to  LA and she no longer existed for him.
  2. Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, 1969.      Director Martin Scorsese considered shooting it in black-white. The studio did not.
  3. Jennie Linden, Women In Love, 1969.    Writer-producer Larry Kramer fancied Diana, Vanessa Redgrave or Janet Suzman as being strong enough to off-set the onslaught of Glenda Jackson. Flamboyant director Ken Russell had other ideas. As per usual, image over substance.
  4. Elga Anderson, Le Mans, 1971.     Steve McQueen’s first choice for his dream racer movie was committed elsewhere.

  5. Susan George, Straw Dogs, 1971.  
    Like sweet Sue, Rigg  was too strong – heroic enough to save the day for Dustin Hoffman as her milque-toast  husband… but wary, like others, of  how far director Sam Peckinpah wanted to push the rape scene. Hoffman confessed to making it just for the money but still objected to his Mr Milque-toast having such a nymnphettish wife. Sweet little Sue, however, was made of sterner stuff. She fought Hollywood heavyweight Peckinpah and bravely said she’d quit rather than agree to his overly explicit portrayal of her rape scene.  Peckinpah gave in and kept his camera on her face, not her body. Cuts by the UK censor then made the (three minute) sequence worse by actually implying sodomy.  (Any video release was banned until… 2002). Jacqueline Bisset,Judy Geeson Linda Hayden, Judy Huxtable, Hayley Mills, Helen Mirren, Charlotte Rampling and Carol White were also in the mix for Amy – the name of George’s future production  company.

  6. Ingrid Pitt, Countess Dracula, 1971.      McQueen, Hoffman – it gets worse… Emma Peel/Pussy Galore was hardly interested in revamping Hungarian Countess Erzsebet Bathory, 1560-1614 -she of rejuvenation in baths of virgins’ blood, 600 of them.
  7. Hildegard Neil, Antony and Cleopatra, 1971. Despite a few thought about havjng Orson Welles directing Marlon Brando in a reprise of  his 1952 Mark Antony, Charlton Heston grabbed  both roles – he was one of the producers, after all!  Finding his Cleo was more difficult. He first thought of Anne Bancroft, and it was her husband, Mel Brooks, who said no thank you. Next: Diana Rigg, Portia in the 1969  Julius Caesar. “Charley Hero” then shuffled through Sophia Loren (the  El Cid co-star he never got on with), the Greek Irene Papas and four  other  true Brits: Glenda Jackson,  Vanessa Redgrave, Susannah York – and signed the less expensive Neil. The film was, sang The Guardian critic Derek Malcolm, “The Biggest Asp Disaster in the World.”
  8. Judy Geeson, Brannigan, 1974.     Co-star with John Wayne? “Not bloody likely,” as she said every night in Pygmalion on the West End stage.
  9. Joanna Lumley, The New Avengers, TV, 1976-1977.   Come back, please!!! Wanting more of spy-fi hero John Steed, France and later Canada put £4m into a (short-lived) three-hander reboot of the TV classic. Patrick Macnee’s creaking Steed was to be assisted by a younger guy and… generous overtures were made to Diana toto return as Emma Peel.She did… but only in flashabcks from the first season in colour: The Winged Avenger and From Venus With Love, 1967.As for Lumley, shereally had to fight just to get an audition. “They just refused to see me!”
  10. Barbara Kellerman, The Sea Wolves, 1980.       Full title was almost longer than the role: The Sea Wolves: The Last Charge of the Calcutta Light Horse.

  11. Sheila Ruskin, Doctor Who #114:The Keeper of the Traken, TV, 1981.      She declined the elderly Keeper’s wife Kassia in good company: Francesca Annia, Glenda Jackson, Helen Mirren, Fiona Walker and fellow Avenger Joanna Lumley! They all decided against visiting the Traken Union empire of peace and harmony with Doc4 Tom Baker.A full22 years later, Rigg became the only Dame to work with the Doctor (Doc11Matt Smith) in #235: The Crimson Horror, 2013.
  12. Polly James, Doctor Who #131: The Awakening, TV, 1984.        Imagine Glenda Jackson and Helen Mirren up for the same Whoverse role. Plus Bond ladies, Rigg, Honor Blackman, Judi Dench and Pamela Salem. Well, producer John Nathan-Taylor had a female casting/dart) board, as well as one for the guys.  As proved by his 18 choices for Jane Humpden in Doc5 Peter Davison’s four-parter. The others were Lynsa Bellingham, James, Eleanor Bron, Pauline Collins, Diane Keen, Jean Marsh, Sheila Ruskin, Barbara Shelley, Sylvia Syms, Wanda Ventham, Fiona Walker, Penelope Wilton.
  13. Stephanie Beacham, The Colbys, TV, 1985-1987.   For billionaire Charlton Heston’s British art gallery owning wife, Sable (first cousin of Dynasty’s Joan Collins character), Faye Dunway wanted a bigger payday The budget was already $1m per episodeElizabeth Ashley, Angie Dickinson were next up. Then, the Brits…  Sue Lloyd and Kate O’Mara O’Mara (Dynasty’s Caress Morrell during 1986). Plus Diana Rigg, Susannah York who quite simply refused the soap.   Beacham later  Dynasty-ed for the 1988-1989 season.
  14. Eileen Atkins, The Avengers, 1998.       While the TV Avenger Patrick Macnee agreed to voice Invisible Jones, his tele-side-kick (and how!), Dame Di, refused to be Alice in this sheer balderdash with Uma Thurman, of all people ,trying to be Diana’s old role of Mrs Emma Peel.



 Birth year: 1938Death year: 2020Other name: Casting Calls:  13