“Today’s Dialogue was with Diana Rigg. She was very tense and told me that she had avoided Joseph McCulloch at the end of his ministry here. It was a hard-going Dialogue and I couldn’t get her to stop going on about the Church of England in the way that the Daily Telegraph readers tend to, and we’ve all heard it before.
In the end, in desperation, I heard myself saying, ‘I have always enormously admired your legs, Miss Rigg.’
She asked if I would compliment the Bishop of Oxford on his legs
I said I didn’t know, I hadn’t seen them, but he was next week’s guest – thinking she was being amusing, as Dame Judi Dench would have been amusing.
But she wasn’t amused, she was very, very cross. This seemed a bit unfair, as she had an extremely short black skirt and yards of wonderful, black-stockinged legs.
Then, wildly disregarding Denis Healey’s advice that when you are in a hole you should stop digging, I said, ‘I have admired your legs ever since I was at school.’ How could I have said such a thing? It was panic, I suppose. We didn’t really get over that at lunch.”