Stage and screen actor who brought some of Pinter's finest creations to life and worked with Joan Littlewood's theatre co-operative
Terence Rigby was a memorable stage and screen actor who first came to general notice when he created the role of Lenny in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming in 1965.
He was appearing in multiple roles in the Dickens musical Pickwick star-ring Harry Secombe when he was told about the new Pinter play. He asked the Royal Shakespeare Company's casting director, Gillian Diamond, for an audition. When she asked him if he had performed any Pinter roles he said no, but he would be happy to audi-tion by interpreting a John Osborne play he had performed, Epitaph for George Dillon, as if it had been written by Pinter.
His typically unpredictable approach earned him competitive multiple auditions for the landmark drama which would star lan Holm and Pinter's wife then, Vivien Merchant, and give Rigby his first taste of Broadway when the play transferred from London to New York. It would also mark a long and affectionate relationship with the playwright, and ten years later that would give him another great role, Briggs, a burly manservant to Ralph Richardson who resents the unwanted guest played by John Gielgud in No Man's Land. In that, he gave one of Pinter's most classic speeches, the rhapsody on the impossibility of finding Bolsover Street, a speech which remained in his repertoire. It was also typical of Rigby that, having won the part of Lenny he was momentarily tempted to remain in Pickwick on a steady ’20 a week.
In later years he would take his expertise in Pinter's plays to the US where he found the endless analysis of the texts deeply irritating, but for many months in recent years he continued to live and work there. He appeared in Amadeus and Hamlet in New York, and in repertory theatres. His final film was Hick in 2007, in which he played Creeper Martin andwhich featured Faye Dunaway.
Terence Christopher Rigby was born in 1937 in Birmingham. His enthusiasm for theatre began at grammar school in Birmingham and continued during his service in the RAF. He tried his hand as a quantity surveyor but that ended when he was accepted for RADA alongside such young actors as Tom Courtenay and John Thaw at the end of the 1950s. It was fitting that his professional career began in the Birmingham Rep \ Bernard Hepton employed him in a production of Antony and Geopatra at the time another young actor, Derek Jacobi, was making his professional start.
Rigby carved a traditional path through regional rep, becoming a founding member of what became the Century Theatre Company in Kes-wick by default when he was hired to replace an actor who had suddenly left the company. Over the first week he would learn four parts for the company's daily change of repertory.
Travelling for six months in Joan Littlewood's production of Fi'ngs Ain't Wot They Used to Be was broken by spells running the artists' bar at Covent Garden, and that variety gave him a marvellous catalogue of stories. His comic timing, perfected as an entertaining raconteur, made him a stalwart of television in the 1970s, where he gave depth to characters such as the dog-handler PC Snow in Softly, Softly: Taskforce, and, later, as Big Al in Alan Plater's The Beiderbecke Affair and The Beiderbecke Connection in the 1980s. His film appearances included Get Carter, Mona Lisa Smile and the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies. He was also the voice of Silver in Watership Down.
Rigby, as he was known to friends and colleagues, was a fine tennis player in his youth and for years ran the Actors' Equity tennis tournament He also found time to officiate at Wimbledon and cherished his umpire's jacket.
He had begun to write down the treasury of stories that he held, but Rigby never completed his memoirs.
Terence Rigby, actor, was born on January 2,1937. He died of cancer on August 10,2OO8, aged 71