Gemma Arterton pays tribute to Black Narcissus co-star Dame Diana Rigg

Gemma Arterton has paid tribute to her Black Narcissus co-star, the late Dame Diana Rigg, as an “amazing legend” who she was “honoured” to work with.

The BBC mini-series, which airs across three nights later in December, follows a group of Anglo-Catholic nuns as they travel to a remote part of Nepal to set up a branch of their order, but are soon beset by temptation.

Arterton, 34, plays rebel nun Sister Clodagh opposite Dame Diana as Mother Dorothea in her final TV appearance.

The Quantum Of Solace star said her relationship with Dame Diana began through her husband, Irish actor Rory Keenan.

Describing her time on set with the veteran actress, she said: “What a joy. I knew Diana before because I’m friends with her daughter, Rachael Stirling.

“My husband was doing a play with Rachael Stirling, and I was waiting to hear whether I was going to do Black Narcissus.

“And I went to see the play with Diana, and she asked me what I was doing next, and I cheekily went ‘Black Narcissus’, even though I hadn’t gotten the part yet.

DAME DIANA RIGG
Dame Diana Rigg (Fiona Hanson/PA)

“And she said ‘Oh, it’s a wonderful film, darling. That’s a wonderful film.’ And I didn’t know that she was going to be in it.”

Arterton also recalled sharing cocktails with Dame Diana following her last day on set.

She said: “Then we were on set, and we are in our habits, and she was so wonderful. She’s so fun. She would have been a great young Clodagh, actually. There’s something about that there.

“I remember we just had fun on those days. She told me about this cocktail that she made for herself called ‘D’s Dynamite’ and it’s one part Cointreau and the rest Prosecco.

Sean Connery death
Dame Diana Rigg and Sir Sean Connery (Tony Harris/PA)

“And so, on her last day, I brought in some Prosecco and Cointreau, and we had them. And she had two.

“We were really … It goes to your head, and I remember that. But it was great and what an absolute honour to have worked with her on this and what an amazing legend she was.

“But I only had just the best memories working with her.”

Dame Diana – whose career included 1960s TV classic The Avengers, a Bond film and the sprawling HBO series Game Of Thrones – died on September 10, aged 82.

She had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and died peacefully at home, her daughter said.

Dame Diana is also due to appear in the horror film Last Night In Soho, which is scheduled to premiere in April 2021.

– Black Narcissus will be shown on BBC One at 9pm on December 27, 28 and 29.

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