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Diana Rigg’s daughter opens up about actor’s final days before death from cancer

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The daughter of the late Diana Rigg has shared heartbreaking details about the end of the actor’s life.

Rigg, known for her roles in The Avengers, James Bond and Game of Thrones, died of cancer in September 2020 at the age of 82.

Her daughter, the actor Rachael Stirling, wrote about her mother’s death and her passionate advocacy of assisted dying in a new piece for The Observer.

According to Stirling, Rigg told her daughter to “push me over the edge” the day before she died, following months of unbearable pain and a raft of other worsening symptoms. (Stirling was, however, unable to comply.) “I think I’ve rather gone off God,” Rigg also said that same day. “I think he’s f***ing mean.”

Rigg’s support for assisted dying may have intensified in the months leading up to her death, but the actor had been an advocate for years, Stirling reveals. In the UK, assisted dying is currently illegal, although polls suggest that a significant majority of the public support changing the legislation to allow it.

“I had known of my mother’s views on assisted dying for years,” Stirling wrote. “In her last few months she became increasingly adamant that the law should be changed, and so we recorded her statements on assisted dying to be released after her death.”

Rigg’s statements on assisted dying are shared within the article.

“I’ve always spoken out,” she said. “I spoke out when I was very young doing The Avengers and learned I was earning less than the cameraman. I received universal opprobrium. I was called ‘money grabbing’. I spoke for peace in Vietnam, in Northern Ireland. I marched for peace in Iraq. I stood up for what is right. I speak my mind. If I see something is unfair, I’ll do my best to address it. I think this is unfair.

(Getty Images)

“I have cancer and it is everywhere, and I have been given six months to live. Yet again we found ourselves in the bathroom this morning, my beloved daughter and I, half-laughing and half-crying, showering off together, and it was loving, and it was kind, but it shouldn’t happen. And if I could have beamed myself off this mortal coil at that moment, you bet I would’ve done it there and then.”

Rigg went on to lament the “truly awful” details of her condition, and the “ignominy” that went with it. She claimed that it was “high time” for a “movement in the law”.

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“This means giving human beings true agency over their own bodies at the end of life. This means giving human beings political autonomy over their own death,” she added.

Stirling is an actor best known for playing Nancy Astley in the BBC series Tipping the Velvet and Millie in the ITV series The Bletchley Circle. She is the only child of Rigg and Rigg’s second husband, theatre producer Archie Stirling.


The daughter of the late Diana Rigg has shared heartbreaking details about the end of the actor’s life.

Rigg, known for her roles in The Avengers, James Bond and Game of Thrones, died of cancer in September 2020 at the age of 82.

Her daughter, the actor Rachael Stirling, wrote about her mother’s death and her passionate advocacy of assisted dying in a new piece for The Observer.

According to Stirling, Rigg told her daughter to “push me over the edge” the day before she died, following months of unbearable pain and a raft of other worsening symptoms. (Stirling was, however, unable to comply.) “I think I’ve rather gone off God,” Rigg also said that same day. “I think he’s f***ing mean.”

Rigg’s support for assisted dying may have intensified in the months leading up to her death, but the actor had been an advocate for years, Stirling reveals. In the UK, assisted dying is currently illegal, although polls suggest that a significant majority of the public support changing the legislation to allow it.

“I had known of my mother’s views on assisted dying for years,” Stirling wrote. “In her last few months she became increasingly adamant that the law should be changed, and so we recorded her statements on assisted dying to be released after her death.”

Rigg’s statements on assisted dying are shared within the article.

“I’ve always spoken out,” she said. “I spoke out when I was very young doing The Avengers and learned I was earning less than the cameraman. I received universal opprobrium. I was called ‘money grabbing’. I spoke for peace in Vietnam, in Northern Ireland. I marched for peace in Iraq. I stood up for what is right. I speak my mind. If I see something is unfair, I’ll do my best to address it. I think this is unfair.

(Getty Images)

“I have cancer and it is everywhere, and I have been given six months to live. Yet again we found ourselves in the bathroom this morning, my beloved daughter and I, half-laughing and half-crying, showering off together, and it was loving, and it was kind, but it shouldn’t happen. And if I could have beamed myself off this mortal coil at that moment, you bet I would’ve done it there and then.”

Rigg went on to lament the “truly awful” details of her condition, and the “ignominy” that went with it. She claimed that it was “high time” for a “movement in the law”.

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Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

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“This means giving human beings true agency over their own bodies at the end of life. This means giving human beings political autonomy over their own death,” she added.

Stirling is an actor best known for playing Nancy Astley in the BBC series Tipping the Velvet and Millie in the ITV series The Bletchley Circle. She is the only child of Rigg and Rigg’s second husband, theatre producer Archie Stirling.

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