Born in Birmingham on 2 January 1937, Rigby began acting as a child and, after serving in the Royal Air Force, trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where he was a contemporary with the late John Thaw.
Rigby’s working relationship with Harold Pinter began in 1965 when he played would-be boxer Joey in the world premiere of The Homecoming. A decade later, he took the part of manservant Briggs, alongside Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, in the premiere production of No Man’s Land, directed by Peter Hall at the National Theatre. His other Pinter plays over the years included The Birthday Party and The Caretaker.
For Peter Hall, he went on to play Pozzo in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot three times: first in 1998 in the West End, then for 50th anniversary production at the Theatre Royal Bath in 2005, which was revived at London’s Arts Theatre in 2006, Rigby’s last West End appearance. Hall also directed Rigby in productions of Amadeus, Agamemnon, Troilus and Cressida, The Importance of Being Earnest (all of which enjoyed New York seasons) and As You Like It.
Rigby’s other stage credits included Skylight, Smelling Rat, Saved and Jonathan Kent’s Hackney Empire Hamlet starring Ralph Fiennes, which also transferred to New York, where Rigby resided for several years.
On television, Rigby became a familiar face as PC Snow in the long-running series Softly Softly: Task Force. His other screen credits included The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Beiderbecke Affair, Dixon of Dock Green, Rumpole, Heartbeat, Holdy City, Doctors, Great Expectations, Z Cars and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on TV; and the films Get Carter, Mona Lisa Smile, Elizabeth, Colour Me Kubrick, Flick, Funny Bones and Tomorrow Never Dies.
Rigby’s agent Peter Charlesworth paid tribute today, saying: “There are not so many like him anymore. He was a very powerful character actor, able to play villains and nice roles with ease. He was particularly good at playing Pinter roles, which were very difficult.”
- by Terri Paddock