Culture Street

Dame Judi Dench has won a record eighth Olivier Award for her role as Paulina in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. It was the first production in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s six-play residency at the Garrick.

She is one of the most loved actresses of stage and screen. Three of her Olivier Awards have been for Shakespeare plays. In 1987 she played the much-lauded role of Cleopatra opposite Anthony Hopkins in Peter Hall’s Antony and Cleopatra. The reviews were outstanding. Dench brought an intelligence and wisdom to the role that enthralled audiences.

“ … she took Shakespeare’s character and endowed her with a restless vivacity and emotional ecstasy that must have come both from within Dench herself and her own extensive imagination.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

Last night, at the age of 81, she became the actor with the most ever Olivier Awards after she received the award during a ceremony at the London’s Royal Opera House.

Dench last acted in The Winter’s Tale in 1969 in Stratford where she played the parts of both Perdita and Hermione. This time around she said was a joy, and especially working with Kenneth Branagh. Her win was no surprise. At the time the critics hailed her performance as thrilling.

"Dench brings all her deeply felt wisdom and humanity to bear on the role." WhatsOnStage

The only person the win surprised was Dench and she lost a bet, to her grandson, over it.

Known to international audience as the formidable ‘M’ in James Bond, Dench has hinted that she rather likes Tom Hiddleston for the role of James Bond.

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