Golden girl Judi Dench

The veteran ac­tress talks about love and lust later in life – and why she’ll never re­tire


DON’T SAY THE ‘R’ WORD She might have made her pro­fes­sional act­ing de­but 60 years ago, but “re­tire­ment” and “old” aren’t words in Judi Dench’s vo­cab­u­lary.

“I don’t al­low that in my house,” the 82-year-old Bri­tish ac­tress says. “And be­ing called ‘vin­tage’. I don’t want any of those old words. As an ac­tor, you don’t need to re­tire – there are all those parts you can play sit­ting in bed or in a wheel­chair.” X-RATED EMBROIDERER Al­though mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion has robbed her of much of her eye­sight, the ac­tress – who was made Dame Com­man­der of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire in 1988 and was once voted “the great­est ac­tor of all time” – hasn’t let her disability get her down. She’s even found a way to con­tinue in­dulging in one of her favourite pas­times: em­broi­dery.

“I thought I couldn’t do it but now I’ve been given this won­der­ful mag­ni­fy­ing lamp and I find I can. If you get the can­vas a bit big­ger, it’s sur­pris­ing what you can do.” Her most re­cent cre­ation? “I did a very rude cush­ion for a friend,” she says, but re­fuses to re­veal what it said. THE WRONG FACE Hav­ing prac­ti­cally grown up in the theatre – her doc­tor fa­ther, Regi­nald, was the lo­cal theatre’s res­i­dent GP, while her mother, Eleanora, headed the wardrobe depart­ment – act­ing was a nat­u­ral choice for Judi. She had a stel­lar stage ca­reer but steered clear of movies for a long time af­ter an un­suc­cess­ful au­di­tion.

“‘Miss Dench, you have ev­ery sin­gle thing wrong with your face.’ That was the crush­ing ver­dict of the film pro­ducer who gave me my first screen test back in the 1950s. It put me off films for a long time.” But she caught up and now has more than 120 screen cred­its to her name, one of the most no­table as “M” in sev­eral Bond flicks. HER NEW CHAP The Os­car win­ner was mar­ried to ac­tor Michael Wil­liams for 30 years and they have a daugh­ter, Finty Wil­liams (45), who’s also an ac­tress. Af­ter Michael’s death in 2001 she even­tu­ally found love again but laughs off the idea of walk­ing down the aisle with her boyfriend of seven years, David Mills (73), a con­ser­va­tion­ist (RIGHT).

“He’s not go­ing to pro­pose. No, no, no. Let’s just pull our­selves to­gether and be our age,” she says. “I have a jolly nice friend. I don’t know what the word is be­cause I don’t like the word part­ner. Chap? Will chap do?”

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