‘Shut up, Louis’: Dame Judi Dench downplays ‘national treasure’ title

Nov 02, 2022
Louis Theroux interviews Dame Judi Dench. Source: BBC

With a doormat that says “We’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond”, beloved actress Dame Judi Dench welcomed journalist Louis Theroux into her home for a heartwarming interview where they discussed Dench’s life in full, from life outside of her acting career of over 60 years to the loss of her husband.

Bringing a bottle of champagne to share with the 87-year-old, the documentarian was jokingly told off for suggesting she is Britain’s national treasure.

“Shut up, Louis,” Dench quipped, saying she didn’t like the title, likening it to being referred to as “some old cabinet with a dirty old glass front”.

The James Bond star made Theroux, and viewers, feel welcome, and was full of humour as she showed off her pet parrot, as well as envelopes she’d had framed because she thought it was funny they had arrived despite being addressed to “Dame Judi Dench, tiny front door in deepest Surrey” and “Dame Judi Dench, somewhere in or near a woodland in Sussex”.

However, Dench showed her vulnerable side when Theroux brought up her late husband, Michael Williams who died of lung cancer in 2001.

Theroux began by asking: “Are you okay talking about how it came to an end and how he came to die?”

After trying to explain, Dench struggled to hold back the tears.

“I’m not good at it actually,” she said holding onto a tissue, trying to avoid being overcome with emotion.

“Yes, he died in 2001 of lung cancer. Smoking you see, all that smoking when we were young.

“I was in New York and they said he was not well so my agent flew out and we came back on a Concord the next day and it aborted take off.

“We got off and got back on the next day and thought it would be all right and we got on another plane and the same thing happened.

“So it took us a long time to get back, but we did get back and we were all in the house together and that was very good indeed.”

Fans were touched that the actress has used her love of gardening to honour her late loved ones, hanging plaques with the names of those who have passed hanging in a tree in her garden.

Despite not wanting to be called a national treasure, Dench’s respected status has seen streaming giant Netflix add a disclaimer to their show The Crown so that viewers will know the show is a work of fiction.

The disclaimer was added shortly after the actress wrote an open letter to The Times newspaper, slamming the programme’s creators for their “inaccurate and harmful account of history” involving the Royal Family.

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