Rachael Stirling

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Rachael Stirling
Born(1977-05-30) 30 May 1977 (age 37)
London, England, UK
Years active1997–present
ParentsArchie Stirling, Diana Rigg
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Rachael Stirling
Born(1977-05-30) 30 May 1977 (age 37)
London, England, UK
Years active1997–present
ParentsArchie Stirling, Diana Rigg

Rachael Atlanta Stirling (born 30 May 1977)[1][2] is an English stage, film and television actress. She is a two-time Olivier nominee for her stage work. She played Nancy Astley in the BBC drama Tipping the Velvet, and one of the main characters in the ITV series The Bletchley Circle.

Personal life[edit]

Stirling is the daughter of actress Diana Rigg and theatre producer Archibald Stirling.[3] Her parents subsequently married in 1982 and divorced in 1990.[4] Through her father, she has a long line of ancestry from the Scottish parish of Lecropt, near her namesake city of Stirling.

Stirling attended Wycombe Abbey School. She earned a BA in art history from Edinburgh University, where she performed with the Edinburgh University Theatre Company.[1][5]

Stirling can speak Russian and is a highly skilled equestrian in horse riding and jumping.[1]

She was engaged to fellow actor Oliver Chris, whom she had been dating since 2007, but broke off the engagement in 2012.[6]


Stirling made her first major appearance on stage in 1996 as Desdemona in the National Youth Theatre revival of Othello at the Arts Theatre opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role.[1] A year later, again at the Arts Theatre with the NYT, she played Olive in the female version of The Odd Couple; while in 1998, portraying Kate in Dancing at Lughnasa for NYT at the Arts, she gave what The Stage reviewer described as "a performance of exceptional promise and authority".

She continues to be active in the theatre, covering a diversity of roles in plays such as Dusty Hughes' Helpless (Donmar Warehouse, 2000); A Woman of No Importance (Theatre Royal Haymarket, 2003); Anna in the Tropics (Hampstead Theatre, 2004); and Tamburlaine (Bristol Old Vic and Barbican, 2005), and she followed in her mother's footsteps, bringing an alluring erotic charge to her performance as Miranda Lionheart in the National Theatre stage version of Theatre of Blood (2005).

In 2006, for the Peter Hall Company at the Theatre Royal, Bath, she played Helena in Peter Gill's revival of Look Back in Anger, while in 2007 at Wilton's Music Hall in London, she starred as Yelena in David Mamet's version of Uncle Vanya,[7] and as Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew.[8][9]

Stirling starred onstage in The Priory directed by Jeremy Herrin at the Royal Court Theatre in 2009. Her role as Rebecca earned her a nomination for Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role.[3] In 2010 she appeared as Helena in Peter Hall's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.[3]

She starred as Lady Chiltern in a 2010 production of An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theatre, for which she received her second nomination for a Laurence Olivier Award.[10] From February to April 2012, she appeared as Sylvia alongside Mark Gatiss, Tobias Menzies, and Nancy Carroll in The Recruiting Officer, the acclaimed production at the Donmar Warehouse directed by newly appointed artistic director Josie Rourke.


Stirling's first screen appearance was in the 1998 British comedy film Still Crazy.[1]

Other film appearances include Maybe Baby, Redemption Road (2001), Complicity (with her Tipping the Velvet co-star Keeley Hawes), Another Life (with Vanity Fair actress Natasha Little), The Triumph of Love (with Mira Sorvino), as Mary Jones in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and as Anna in Snow White and the Huntsman.


Stirling's first break in television was in the 2000 NBC miniseries In the Beginning, which was adapted from Genesis.[1] Stirling played the young Rebeccah, with her mother, Diana Rigg, as the older Rebeccah.

In 2011, she starred in the BBC Four adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love as Ursula Brangwen.[10]

She appeared in an episode of Doctor Who titled "The Crimson Horror" alongside her mother Dame Diana Rigg, Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman. The episode had been specially written for her and her mother by Mark Gatiss (marking the very first appearance of the two actresses together professionally) and was aired 4 May 2013 as part of Series 7.[11]

She appeared as a guest on the BBC1 cookery programme Saturday Kitchen Live which was broadcast on 1 March 2014.[12]

In autumn 2014 she appeared in the BBC4 comedy drama Detectorists as Becky, the girlfriend of Andy (played by Mackenzie Crook).

Other work[edit]

Stirling is an occasional interviewer on the Radio Four chat-show Loose Ends.[3] She also wrote a restaurant column for Diplomat magazine.[3][13]

She took part in Occupy London's reading of Dickens' A Christmas Carol on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral, London in December 2011.

Presented Stage Door, BBC Radio Four, December 2012.


1998Still CrazyClare Knowles
2000Maybe BabyJoanna
In the BeginningYoung RebeccahTV film
2001Redemption RoadBecky
Another LifeAvis Graydon
The Triumph of LoveCorine
OthelloLuluTV film
2002Tipping the VelvetNan AstleyTV series (3 episodes)
Dallas OUT TAKES—Best Actress
BaitStephanie RaeburnTV film
2003Agatha Christie's PoirotCaroline CraleTV series (1 episode: "Five Little Pigs")
2004Freeze FrameKatie Carter
Agatha Christie's MarpleGriselda ClementTV series (1 episode: "The Murder at the Vicarage")
The Final QuestYoung AnnabelleTV film
2005Riot at the RiteMarie RambertTV film
2006BeyondGuilean HadeTV film
The TruthMartha
Hotel BabylonNina BaileyTV series (1 episode: "Episode No. 1.1")
The Haunted AirmanJulia JuggTV film
2007Dangerous ParkingKirstin
2008LewisZöe KennethTV series (1 episode: "Life Born of Fire")
2009The Young VictoriaDuchess of Sutherland
MinderEve CornellTV series (1 episode: "Thank Your Lucky Stars")
Boy Meets GirlVeronica BurtonTV series (4 episodes)
2011Women in LoveUrsula BrangwenTV series
2012Salmon Fishing in the YemenMary JonesFilm
Snow White & the HuntsmanAnnaFilm
The Bletchley CircleMillieTV Series
2013Doctor WhoAda GillyflowerSeries 7 (1 episode: "The Crimson Horror")
2014DetectoristsBeckyTV Series


  1. ^ a b c d e f Drama Faces - Rachael Stirling, BBC, January 2006, retrieved 12 June 2011 .
  2. ^ England & Wales birth index 1916-2005, Ancestry, retrieved 8 January 2013 .
  3. ^ a b c d e Groskop, Viv (17 February 2010), Rachael Stirling is a rising stage star – and she's in love with her ass, London Evening Standard, retrieved 12 June 2011 .
  4. ^ Farndale, Nigel. "Diana Rigg: Her Story". Telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2008-08-03. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  5. ^ http://old.bedlamtheatre.co.uk/people/5716
  6. ^ Oliver Chris on Hating Earnest Actors, Loving Judi Dench & How One Man, Two Guvnors Saved Him, Broadway.com, retrieved 5 July 2012 .
  7. ^ Uncle Vanya The Stage, 29 January 2007 - Review of Stirling in Uncle Vanya
  8. ^ The Taming of the Shrew Times Online, 24 March 2007
  9. ^ Wiltons Music Hall
  10. ^ a b Radford, Ceri (24 March 2011), Rachael Stirling: 'It's not all about sordid rutting', Telegraph.co.uk, retrieved 12 June 2011 .
  11. ^ Doctor Who, Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling to Star in New Series!, accessed 3 July 2012
  12. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xkrmw
  13. ^ Diplomat Magazine - All articles by Rachael Stirling, Diplomat, retrieved 11 June 2011 .

External links[edit]