The Dig cast: Peggy Piggott is played by Lily James

Image of Lily James as Peggy Piggott in The Dig.
Lily James plays Peggy Piggott in The Dig. Pic credit: Netflix

The Dig has plowed through Netflix viewers this weekend, and everybody’s talking about it. 

This British drama reimagines and adds spirit to the seemingly dull 1939 excavation of an ancient ship burial.

The Dig features an incredible cast with performances by Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Ken Stott (The Hobbit), and Lily James, who plays Peggy Piggott.

Who is Lily James?

British actress Lily James has been gracing the screen for about ten years now. In 2012, James earned acclaim for playing Lady Rose MacClare in the period drama Downton Abbey. 

Another big role arrived when she played the main love interest Ellie Appleton in the movie Yesterday, a romantic comedy based around the Beatles’ music.

James also portrayed the young Donna Sheridan in the Mamma Mia musical movie sequel, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! 

Since her debut in 2010, she’s quickly made her way across genres. More of her acting projects include Cinderella (2015), Baby Driver, Rebecca, and War and Peace.

She has also been involved in two London West End Shakespeare productions, playing Desdemona in Othello and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.

Who is Peggy Piggott?

In The Dig, James plays understated archaeologist Margaret “Peggy” Piggott. From the beginning of her character’s plot, the young professional faces sexism, and an apathetic husband. 

While the real-life specialist had a bustling and successful career in archaeology, The Dig has been criticized for its clumsy portrayal of Peggy.

Despite eventually discovering the first found artifact during the excavation, Peggy is first introduced to the field in a scene where she stumbles about and injures her foot after kicking the centuries-old buried ship they are digging up.

Thus, she spends the rest of the scene lounging in the background with the movie’s lead, Miss Pretty (Carey Mulligan).

In contrast, other viewers found the movie’s portrayal of women to be “interesting.” 

Art Historian Dr. Maddy Pelling shared her thoughts on the movie writing:

“First impressions of The Dig (I have had much wine and cheese): beautifully shot, Suffolk landscape the true protagonist, Ralph doing a strong accent, interesting portrayal of women involved in archaeology (if passive?), loved the BM rep as a corporate, sexist baddy.”

The Dig’s pop culture relevancy and James’ incredible (yet, subjectively questionable) performance as Peggy Piggott makes this movie a necessary watch for movie lovers.

The conversation around The Dig’s many nuances and its talented cast isn’t expected to go away any time soon. 

The Dig is available for streaming on Netflix.

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