“National treasure” and legendary actress Dame Judi Dench is the gift that keeps on giving, having recently surprised a lucky group of hotel guests in Scotland with an unexpected live performance.
Just before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, the 88-year-old Skyfall star took to the piano at the Fife Arms in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, and sang ABBA’s hit song Waterloo with Scottish singer Sharleen Spiteri.
In the clip, we see Dench and Spiteri sharing a piano seat, belting out the hit song before we hear Spiteri say “what a pianist!”
GLOBAL EXCLUSIVE – Dame Judi Dench gigs with Sharleen Spiteri at The Fife Arms, Braemar – future dates are in the planning. Watch this space, meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR! #damejudidench #judidench #sharleenspiteri #thefifearms #braemar #scotland ???????????????????????????? #newyear #happynewyear pic.twitter.com/5iOcl3SuB3
— Ewan Venters (@ewanventers) January 1, 2023
While many fans on social media were thrilled to see the duo’s performances, many were also quick to point out that Dench was faking her piano-playing skills.
Did no one else notice that this was a self-playing piano? The keys are moving by themselves and Dame Judy is acting wonderfully well! (Sorry to spoil the party atmos)
— ProfuseJuice (@gabriel_no9) January 1, 2023
( I don’t want to spoil it, but was that a player piano?)
— Rev James Bissett (@Revinthenorth) January 1, 2023
We can all see the keys moving themselves. Auto-piano? Not taking anything away from her though, but I don’t think she is playing it.
— James Manwaring (@jpmanwaring) January 3, 2023
Great video and by the way that is a Spirio, which is Steinway’s first autonomously playing piano.
— Stuart Robertson ???????????????????????????? ???????? (@crmsociety) January 2, 2023
Despite speculation that Dench was not actually playing the instrument, Ewan Venters, CEO of Artfarm, which owns The Fife Arms, told BBC Scotland the performance was still a “joyful” way to ring in the new year.
“Judi Dench and Sharleen Spiteri were staying at the hotel and we had an impromptu moment at the piano,” he said. “It was a happy evening with lots of guests and locals clapping.”
He said the duo burst into song just before the new year fireworks. “It was a classic Scottish Hogmanay party at the Fife Arms,” he said. “The hotel was fully sold out, with a four-course dinner and a ceilidh with lots of reeling.”
Dench’s carefree performance comes months after the acclaimed actress wrote a seething open letter to streaming giants Netflix for not clarifying that their hit drama show The Crown was a work of fiction, slamming the programme’s creators for their “inaccurate and harmful account of history” involving the Royal Family.
“The closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely it seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism,” Dench wrote.
“While many will recognise The Crown for the brilliant but fictionalised account of events that it is, I fear that a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true. Given some of the wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series.
“No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged.
“The time has come for Netflix to reconsider — for the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve their own reputation in the eyes of their British subscribers.”