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This episode is sponsored by Viking Viking offers an all new custom built ocean fleet designed to bring the traveler closer to the destination with all and staterooms and a short excursion included in every port Viking by river and by sea. Learn more at Viking Cruises Dotcom. I'm Jace Lacob and you're listening to Masterpiece Studio, the cast of All Creatures, Great and Small is storied, to be sure, but there's one cast member who rises above the rest.
Mrs. Pumphrey looks like you're putting on quite the shindig. Oh, just a modest affair for a few of our closest friends. Isn't that right?
Drink and Vivienne, little man. Oh yeah.
I think he remembers you. He stood on his tail. Of course we mean Derek the dog, but we also mean Derek's owner, the posh beer baron widow. Mrs. Pumphrey played with a hottie joy by the incomparable Dame Diana Rigg.
Oh, my beautiful. Oh, my boo from Zizzo.
My goodness, he feels like a sack of spanners.
He must be starving, so it was with great sadness when our masterpiece family learned last September that Dame Diana had passed away at the age of 82 and that her role as Mrs. Pumphrey and all creatures, great and small, would be among her final film appearances.
Siegfried James. So glad you could come. A pleasure as always. And look at this delightful little man. Oh, it's Uncle Harriet. He's been so looking forward to seeing you.
Is that trifle I see in his bones? I know it's naughty, but it's the only way to keep him happy. He finds these occasions rather than testing. Thank goodness he has you to keep you company.
More recent fans of Masterpiece would recognize Dame Diana for her role in the second season of Victoria as the imperious Duchess of Bucklew who lobbed Bommel like they were grenades.
Your Royal Highness, not just the Queen, told me that I should tell you her whereabouts if you were to ask so.
Well, then, if I was to know where the Queen is, I would ask.
I must confess that I was surprised to learn of her destination.
Well, that would be the difference between you and I. That is nothing the Queen can do was surprise me. Good day. And long time masterpiece viewers, of course, know Dame Diana for her regular role as the third host of Mystery, a role she held for nearly 14 years from 1989 to 2003, where her witty signature introductions and closings became a hallmark of the show.
A policeman's lot may not be a happy one, but a policewoman is even worse, as we'll see tonight in Prime Suspect, a three part thriller written especially for television. At the center of the story is Jane Tennison, a policewoman who's fought her way up through the male ranks of Scotland Yard to become a detective chief inspector. In spite of her experience, her superiors have never allowed her to head a homicide investigation. DCI Tennison is one of a very select company.
At the time Prime Suspect was written, there were only four female DCI in Great Britain and they've had to make some sacrifices for their success as tennis and will when she finally gets a crack at that elusive prize, her own murder case as a woman on a mostly male police force, she must endure the open hostility of the men under her command who are none too happy about taking orders from a woman. It's no easier on the home front, wrestling with these pressures takes an emotional toll on her, unwilling as she is to admit it, because deep in her heart, Jane Tennison knows there's one law a policewoman must obey.
Above all, others never let them see you cry. Part one of prime suspect. We spoke with Dame Dianna's, all creatures, great and small co-stars, about what it was like to work with the remarkable actor in this character role, as well as a few of her other masterpiece colleagues and friends, including Alan Cumming, who now hosts masterpiece Mystery with his own inimitable style.
The fact I got a job before previously was helped by Diederik is one of my greatest achievements in my career.
I think we asked all creatures great and small stars Nicolas Ralph, Callum Woodhouse, Samuel West and animatedly about working with Dame Diana Rigg.
It was fabulous. We were so lucky and we were really sad that we won't get to see her Mrs. Pumphrey again. It was a real privilege. I mean, she's she was incredibly strong personality.
This is Anna Madley, who plays the supportive but strong Mrs Hall.
She had such energy and enthusiasm and passion for the work. I think, you know, you see it in her relationship that she builds with Trickey Woo, that she embraced that character. It's it's so much fun and so delightful and heartwarming and true as well, that this woman really loves her trickily. So it was really, really delightful. I had those fun scenes in the house with her. The guys had more scenes with her at the house. And but just that professionalism and determination, I just got the passion for the work from her that was just contagious.
It was really wonderful.
Samuel West, who plays Siegfried Farnon, offered up a Twitter tribute to Dame Diana when she died in September. But he spoke to me at length about how remarkable she truly was.
It was extraordinary. I tweeted when she died how it didn't really make sense because. She was always the one who kind of lived the hell out of all of us. She was incredibly energetic, enormous fun on set, very much ran to the beat of her own drum. And, you know, she's extremely experienced. You don't keep her waiting, but when she arrives, she makes a beeline for the most attractive men in the cast. So she was very keen on Nick and she was very keen on Parashar Runner, who had to look after her for the rest of the day.
And I'd worked with her a couple of times on little things. It was very nice to see her again.
But I mean, it's it's a wonderful performance and not an easy part, actually, Mrs. Pumphrey, because, you know, you're in danger of being upstaged by a dog.
And although Derek Derek is very brilliant, is tricky, we're actually the two of them have to be a double act. So you have to be ready to work with animals, which, of course, famously was never do.
And I think, you know, it is a wonderful. Performance, as you say, as one of her last ones, and I mean, we know her as a film star and as a television star from The Avengers and from so many other things. But of course, she also had a 60 year long theater career. She was working in the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing violin and Twelfth Night in the 50s. And it was very moving to watch Nick, whose first television job this is, who plays James.
Work with this person who, you know, really has a theatrical pedigree, as long as your arm or anyone's arm and and to feel those to extending out, I mean, when when Nick is 80 and talking to his grandchildren and great grandchildren about having worked with Diederik, who made her professional stage debut in the early 50s, I don't know that that was really special.
And and I think he's he's sensible and sensitive enough to realize that that was quite an honor.
Nick, of course, being Nicholas Ralfe, who plays James Herriot and who made his onscreen debut in All Creatures, it was absolutely fantastic.
She was so lovely to chat to, so down to Earth. But she also just oozes class, you know, from start to finish. She really does. And she still got she still got the twinkle in her eyes. Well, kind of mischievous humor that she has a real wicked sense of humor, should I say. But yes, she was just so much fun to work with and I just feel so fortunate. I had a chance and an opportunity to work with had a couple of days up in the Dales working together.
Yeah, it really was a treat for all of us.
Print Callum Woodhouse, who plays Tristan Farnon, remembers hearing Dame Diana say that after almost every take, it was an absolute whirlwind.
Getting to work with everybody was it was she was from a completely different, different sort of time of acting where she'd be. So, you know, she'd be so ready just constantly to work and be setting up the lights and the camera. And she like, come on, come on, let's get it done. And after every every scene, she'd show prints. And it was like, I remember Brian was saying something about how that was like that's what they used to say when they were shooting on film and stuff like that.
And she was just from a really old school of acting. And it was so amazing getting to spend time around someone like that, because you know that the other people we've grown up watching and the people who really set the stage before us and to get to spend time around and sort of like acting icon around, that was just it was yeah. I was just feels so incredibly grateful and blessed that I, I got to spend time with her before she sadly passed away.
And getting to see the way she worked was just a privilege. It really was. And it's, you know, you know, influences you as an actor seeing and seeing these, you know, these absolute professionals at the top of their game in the way there were you know, you want to you want to emulate that. Yes.
She would decide whether it was any good sometimes before it was finished. And the director was very much second in that decision making process. But she was always right.
We also asked our cast what Dame Diana brought to the role of Mrs Pumphrey and what Mrs Pumphrey brought to the Yorkshire Dales as Mrs Pumphrey she uses class and also the wet the humour with that character as well.
She had all in abundance. I think if you read Mrs Pumphrey from the books and you watch them Diana's performance, I think they just go hand in hand and yeah, it's just stunning.
François Francois, this is his guest. Uncle Harriet makes his glass never runs dry. And as for you, there are ladies in there in need of entertainment.
Then let us begin with my absolute favorite.
I mean, what an incredible and ridiculous character. You know, this the way that she treats this dog is absolutely ridiculous. Oh, Lord. Now that I've got this I've got this new puppy now and I can see why, you know, Mrs Pomfrey would spoil this dog. I just want my new puppy, Ralph. I'm just wanting to spoil him and give him treats constantly. Give him kisses. He's he's probably absolutely sick of me. He's probably just like, can I have five seconds, please?
To myself, it became sort of Feydeau farce because she was there waiting for a cup of tea on the sofa where we literally ran around outside. That's another thing that's so brilliant about that set, is that you can go in and out of rooms in many different ways and get quite lost. We used to regularly get lost on set and find yourself out in the back of the house and then wonder how you got there.
But yeah, it was just a huge amount of fun. I think, you know, Dana brings that wonderful status to the set as well as her love for Cheeky Way. And so this idea that we were running around like crazy, trying to find that naughty little trackway, greedy, cheeky way, and it was just a lot of fun.
You quite all right.
What? Yes. Jim, wasn't it your tipple of choice? Twelve o'clock. Your housekeeper offered me a cup of tea, mrs.
Tricky, is that tricky, tricky? Well, where is he?
I'm sorry, who we were just telling. This is Pumphrey about all the exercise he's been getting. Oh, he doesn't leave Treston side. That is basically a lie. Would you excuse us?
She's quite easily bored, I think, and fair enough at her age and with her experience.
So sometimes she would finish a take and walk out of shot and say, well I thought that went quite well and I have to say stay still rolling actually though.
But but she didn't care about that. I think, you know, as I say, you don't keep her waiting, but but that's good for everybody.
Actually, I think it keeps everyone on their toes and. You know, it's good for people to have a focus, I find the alchemy of a television or film set almost extraordinary.
I mean, there's this piece of paper on which 100 people's names are written and their jobs and their mobile phone numbers, and that notionally the time they might arrive. And then one of them is named Diana Rigg. And you know, exactly when she arrives and what she's going to do when she arrives and when she gets on set, everybody's ready and we don't keep her and she shoots and then, you know, we don't keep it too long.
And she goes home and people are really good at concentrating for the 30 seconds or the five minutes that they really need to concentrate in order to get that incredibly important job done and then becoming completely invisible the rest of the time and totally silent. And I find that an amazing skill and one I'm not always good at doing myself. Before our next Dame Diana memory, let's take a quick break to hear a word from our sponsors. St Petersburg's Hermitage, Moscow's Red Square golden ring town's Viking, dedicated to bringing travelers closer to the real Russia along the waterways of the SaaS, offering a small ship experience with a shore excursion included in every port, discovered more at Viking Cruises dotcom.
Coming up next on Masterpiece on PBS, Miss Scarlet and the Duke, all creatures great and small and the long song continue Sunday, February 7th. Three hours of masterpiece. Begin at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central. Working with Dame Diana is a privilege many masterpiece regulars have had, including Victoria's Janet Coleman, who played Queen Victoria to Dame Diana's fastidious Duchess of Bucklew.
She's hilarious. The crew love her. And I mean, she's just a complete pro and very, very funny, has amazing stories. I've worked with Diana before on on doctor who were both dressed in Victorian clothes, except for she had a creature attached to her chest by prosthetics and was threatening to take over the world. So it was a bit of a different a different set up. But, you know, similar costumes.
Victoria Crater, Daisy Goodwin had met Dame Diana when she was a young woman and casting her as the Duchess of Bucklew was a real casting coup for her series second season.
I first met Diederik when I was 18, and my father, who was a film producer, had made an Agatha Christie film called Evil Under the Sun, which starred her and Maggie Smith. And so I remember her from that time. And I thought she was hilarious then. And it was rather wonderful because I when I came to write Series two, I thought, what we need is in the show is is a Lady Bracknell character. We need someone who can speak truth to power.
And I have an older woman in the show and someone suggested to an I thought, yes, that would be astonishing. And so I went to see her and she was like, yes, no, she she deigned to to take part. And she was terribly funny. She said, well, of course, if you need to, I can bring my own jewels, which is very generous of her. I thought. And she's fabulous. There was a real Duchess of Backload, but in fact the real disability was a lot younger than Diana.
But I thought it I thought an older character would give more depth and sort of gravitas to the show. And I guess Bucklew is is one of my favorite characters to write because she's terribly rude, she's xenophobic, but she has a kind of wisdom that comes with with age. And, you know, she's the one who spots that. And Victoria has postnatal depression. She says you're not the first woman to be in low spirits after the birth of a child.
And I think that's the first time you realise that here is a woman who's been who's seen it all, done it all, you know, knows everything.
Of course, any film with Dame Diana Rigg is a treat. Charles Dance, lately best known for his role on Game of Thrones, starred opposite Dame Diana and her Emmy Award winning performance in the 1997 adaptation of Rebecca.
I've kind of known Diana over the years pretty well, and she was just wonderfully cast as Mrs. Danvers, which I think is by far the most interesting character in that story. And it was directed by a friend of mine, Jim O'Brien, who was one of the directors of the jewel in the crown. So, you know, there was there was a double connection there. And the young Amelia Fox, who played the new young Mrs Winter, was playing the part that her mother had played.
Quite a few years before, so it was a bit of a family thing all around, really. And I thought it was a rather wonderful adaptation and beautifully done indeed.
Beyond her hundreds of mystery introductions, Dame Diana Rigg appeared in nearly a dozen titles on Masterpiece, including her BAFTA award winning lead role in Andrew Davis's His Mother Love, her stylish mystery series, The Mrs Bradley Mysteries, for which she introduced herself on mystery, of course, the 1985 version of Bleak House and the fortunes and misfortunes of Moll Flanders. Rebecca Eaton, our former executive producer, remembers inviting Dame Diana to the host's chair to succeed longtime host Vincent Price.
She had been in The Avengers, but she'd also been in a movie with Vincent Price called Theatre Blood, some horrible horror movie. Horrible, probably a wonderful horror movie.
So we called up Diana and she said absolutely right away.
And she brought her own jewels. Is that correct? And she brought her own jewels.
Her husband, Archie Stirling, had a castle.
And so we were getting costume jewelry and kind of putting them on. And she said, no, no, no. And she would whip out these fabulous diamonds and pearls and put them on look great.
Outside masterpiece Dame Diana played the scheming lady Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, the Katsuta, MPL in The Avengers, the doomed Tracey Bond, the only woman to ever tame Bond's heart and get DeBlois seven to commit to marriage for love in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. She was a star of stage and screen for whom the word legend isn't hyperbole. Current masterpiece executive producer Suzanne Simpson is honored that Dame Diana is on masterpieces screens. This one final time.
When I started watching the rushes from all creatures great and small, I could hardly wait until I could see the scenes with Diana Rigg.
And she is, of course, just perfect in the role. She's pompous and aristocratic and fawning all over her, her dog, who needs attention from the vets.
And she's just perfectly funny in conveying her character. She's just really such a pro.
And I remember watching The Avengers, that was one of my favorite shows when I was growing up, and I just thought she was an incredible character and actress and so were quite moved by the fact that she was one of her last performances is actually in a masterpiece.
Personally, there's one Dame Diana line that I always remember. At the end of any mystery title, Dame Diana would appear on screen to offer up a summation of an idea or theme from that week's mystery and then with a wry smile, sign off by wishing you and the rest of her viewers a lovely evening.
I'm Diana Rigg. Good night. Back in the 90s, I taped dozens of mystery episodes off air onto VHS tapes. Remember VHS tapes? And even years later, after watching a British mystery on television, I would sometimes say to myself jokingly, I'm Diana Rigg. Good night. Because there would be something incomplete hovering in the air, something ineffable that only Dame Diana could sum up. Now, as a podcast host, repeatedly recording scripts, it was amusing for me to see a gag reel from Dame Dianna's distinctive hosting years, watching a fellow kind of hosting puppet say the same words incorrectly, again and again and again with great, mistaken precision.
Dame Diana. I know the feeling.
Mm hmm. He worked on the school newspaper.
He played the down damnation, played the clarinet. He played the clarinet.
On the other hand, sidekick. Sometimes I start again. Does I sound drunk? Heti has much in common with Patricia Radcliffe. Ha ha ha.
Here we go with that Routledge trouble. I'll miss seeing Dame Diana Rigg on Masterpiece. She was, in the words of her all creatures, great and small cast mates.
I do not think she's a real icon for acting in many ways, plus irreplaceable.
And all of us here at Masterpiece will miss her greatly. Coming up next on the podcast, we'll hear in from the real queen of Skell Dollhouse. This is how to Bob says you won't last past lunchtime.
Honestly, Trista, I remember when Greer did it drunk by midday, threatened to punch bowl in the mouth.
Mourning's not the problem. It's the pony measuring Kissane every time to Bob 330.
What do you say, this whole thing, you'll make it to the family pets? I most certainly do. And I don't approve of gambling to Bob. Six o'clock, not a minute sooner, animatedly drops by for a visit here on the podcast on February seven. Masterpiece Studio is hosted by me, Jace Lacob, and produced by Nick Anderson, Alicia Backed-up is our editor, the executive producer of Masterpiece, Suzanne Simpson. Sponsors for Masterpiece on PBS are Viking Cruises, Raymond James and the Masterpiece Trust.