From Queen of Thorns to Mistress of Robes! Dame Diana Rigg leaves her Game Of Thrones character Lady Olenna Tyrell behind as she makes her debut appearance in series two of Victoria, starting on ITV Choice on Monday 4th September.
For the 79-year old Rigg, being able to laugh at her character's general disapproval really drew her to the role of the Duchess of Buccleuch in the hit series that stars Jenna Coleman in the titular role and Tom Hughes as her husband Albert.
On her character, Dame Rigg said, "The duchess is very loyal to the queen. As a member of the establishment, she is very proper in many respects, but she also has deep prejudices which make me laugh a lot and hopefully will make the audience too. She doesn’t really care for the Germans or French and she really doesn’t care for the Belgians either! In that respect, she is unique and great fun to play.”
When asked what she likes best about the duchess, Rigg said "I love her candour, the fact she is straightforward. I like the fact that I don’t think she would lie - she is what you see. She is a very efficient sort of woman, but then so am I so we have that in common.
"Olenna Tyrell was not the sort of person who behaves in an acceptable fashion just to be accepted, she very much goes her own way, and I hope that she encourages young women to be the same.
"Likewise with the Duchess of Buccleuch - she does her own thing, until Victoria tries to put her in her place occasionally. Although, I think it bounces off her!”
But Dame Diana admits her character has some lighter moments, "There has to be a bit of comedy and I try to find it in every scene. It is not exactly laugh out loud, but the writer Daisy Goodwin is wonderful and she has given me some terrific lines. The duchess is great fun to play."
The Duchess of Buccleuch was Queen Victoria's Mistress of the Robes. Dame Diana explains how they first become acquainted.
"To begin with it is a bit prickly because the duchess had been working for Queen Adelaide beforehand and comparisons are made. Victoria, in her youth, does not measure up as far as the Duchess was concerned. As time goes by she accepts her more and more. However, it takes a long time for her to accept the German retinue!”
Thankfully Rigg did not have to endure the restrictions of a corset while filming Victoria.
"I am beyond a corset so I don’t have to suffer that. I am not interested in having a waist – forget that. I only take half an hour in wardrobe and make-up because I am long past improving my appearance, so try to have it all done as quickly and efficiently as possible!”
But there was one challenging aspect to the filming, as the actress describes: "Getting in and out of horse drawn carriages at my age! They are very high and impossible to get into and impossible to then get out of. There is very little that I have to acknowledge I can’t do anymore as an actress, but I can’t do that in front of the camera as it is very ungainly and almost impossible! I do it, but thank God I pleaded with the director to not make me do it on camera. There is a lot of huffing, puffing and groaning.”