Judi Dench loathes being called a national treasure as she bluntly rejects ‘dreary’ label

Geoffrey Palmer stars alongside Judi Dench in As Time Goes By

Dame Judi Dench, who is famed for her roles in James Bond and The Notebook, recently opened up about her longstanding theatre and film career which has spanned over decades. The British star, who won an Oscar in 1999, spoke candidly about the moniker she is not particularly fond of.

The actress is proud of her legacy but is not too pleased to be branded a national treasure.

Speaking in a new interview, Dame Judi explained the “terrible” label felt suffocating.

“For one thing,” she explained, “it’s a terrible label. So dusty, so dreary.

“For another, it relegates me to being an 86-year-old woman. Whereas in my mind’s eye I’m 6ft and willowy and about 39.”

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The James Bond actress explained being labelled a national treasure felt like being “locked up” and stored away.

Dame Judi said: “Do you know what it’s like? It’s like they’ve picked me up and put me inside a little glass-fronted cabinet.

“Then they’ve locked the door so I can’t get out.”

When the interviewer told her to “smash the glass and run amok,” Dench added to the Guardian: “Exactly. And f*** being 86 years old.”

Her comments come after Dame Judi received her first coronavirus vaccination this month, calling it a “great start”

She joins a string of celebrities who have received the vaccination, including the Queen and Prince Philip, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir David Attenborough and Prue Leith.

The actress also added that lockdown had made her appreciate what she missed the most, including theatres and going out for lunch.

Speaking on BBC News, Dame Judi said: “During the lockdown suddenly one realises you just need social contact with people.


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“Just the thought of sitting next to somebody in a theatre, or in a cinema, or at supper even, or at lunch, those are things you suddenly realise you take for granted.”

She added that she was especially upset by the government’s decision to close all theatres at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020.

“It’s terrible for all that community of people in theatres, not just the actors, but all the crews, the stage doormen, and everyone who looks after the theatre, the cleaners. They’re not doing anything,” the actress said.

Meanwhile, the Notebook star has found some light relief to get through the lockdown.

Dame Judi explained making Tik Tok videos with her grandson, Sam Williams, had been a life-saving activity.

“I know nothing about TikTok,” the actress commented.

“Sam is the person who is technically minded and who has all the ideas, so he got very strict.”

“He made me do it,” Dame Judi added, admitting she “had to rehearse all those moves. Don’t just think that comes naturally.”

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