Not a mad dog in sight, only that eminent Englishwoman Diana Rigg, settling down beside the pool of her Johannesburg hotel in the noonday sun to discuss her appearance as commere of Wednesday’s ‘British Screen Awards’.
La Rigg, spectacularly suntanned following a weekend filming wildlife in Swaziland – “I got right up to the nostrils of one enormous rhino” – returns from a four week African holiday to share the fronting duties at the Royal Albert Hall with Eamonn Andrews. “I appreciate the strong element in acting which rebels against these award nights,” she said. “But I am not one of those rebels to turn up my nose at recognition. If you’re lucky enough to be in work, and fortunate enough to be a success, why not sit back and enjoy it?
“You know, there isn’t really any competitive clawing and back-biting over over awards. Most of that is manufactured in the media. It doesn’t happen in the business, except on rare occasions, like the slanging match between Liza Minnelli and Diana Ross over that Oscar a year or so ago.
“I was nominated for a Tony on Broadway” – for her performance in ‘The Misanthrope’ – “along with Maggie Smith, Elizabeth Ashley and Ellen Burstyn. We got along famously; sat together, drank together, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Ellen eventually won, but there wasn’t a trace of bitchiness.”
The awards will be presented by Princess Anne, President of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.