Hedda Gabler (ITV 1981, Diana Rigg, Denis Lill)


In Hedda Gabler, the Norwegian period drama by Ibsen, Hedda arrives in her new home with new husband George Tesman, a scholar who is more caught up in his work than Hedda. Meanwhile Eilert Lovborg, who was once a lover of Hedda’s, is George’s main rival for a professorship and has also just published a successful book. Hedda is determined to prove that she still has a hold over Lovborg and she leads the former alcoholic straight back into dissolution, leading to a tragic end for both Hedda and Lovborg.

This was something of a heavyweight production, lots of big guns, from adapter Osborne to star players like Diana Rigg, Alan Dobie and Denis Lill.

Diana Rigg, in all her imperious gorgeousness, is superb as Hedda, all haughty ice maiden but able to turn on the charm when she wants something. Surely Hedda is one of the most manipulative characters of all time. Denis Lill turns in a fantastic performance too, by turns eager and bewildered, his George is no match for Hedda who has him wrapped around her little finger.

classic quote
“Why does everything I touch become vulgar, absurd and commonplace”

production details
UK / ITV Network – Yorkshire / 1×75 minute episode / Broadcast 3 March 1981

Writer: John Osborne / Play: Henrik Ibsen / Costumes: Charles Knode / Production Design: Eileen Diss / Producer: Pat Sandys / Director: David Cunliffe

DIANA RIGG as Hedda Tesman
DENIS LILL as George Tesman
ALAN DOBIE as Judge Brack
PHILIP BOND as Eilert Lovborg
ELIZABETH BELL as Thea Elvsted
KATHLEEN BYRON as Aunt Juliana

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