Dame Judi: ‘Being a Quaker informs everything I do’

Dame Judi Dench on Channel 4 News. Spoiler alert: she talks about the surprise in Skyfall



York’s most famous export after Fruit Pastilles, Dame Judi Dench, has told of her Quaker faith and her admiration for the Queen in a new interview.

Talking to Jon Snow of Channel Four News ahead of starring in a new play in London’s West End, she also explained the affects of ageing.

Last year the 78-year-old actor revealed how an eye condition, age-related macular degeneration, had reduced her vision to the point where she struggled to read scripts.

“If six actors were coming in to do a sonnet and they had it written on one page, I would be the one with the four pages. I have to have it very large,” she told Snow.

“If it’s blown up enough I can read it. And I always have a goodly friend to help me.”

Makers of a certain memory-boosting supplement will be braced for new orders, after Dame Judi was asked: how does she remember all her lines? “Good question. Please don’t ask me! I take that wonderful thing called IQ every morning. The Master of Magdalen told me about it ages ago. He said, you should take that for your memory, it’s wonderful.

“It is more difficult to retain something, but it’s really a question of retaining the story.”

Dame Judi Dench on Channel 4 News
Dame Judi Dench on Channel 4 News

In the film above Dame Judi talks about the surprise at the end of Bond smash Skyfall – we won’t repeat it in this text in case you’ve yet to see it. She goes on to discuss the secrecy surrounding the Bond-meets-the-Queen sequence during the Olympics opening ceremony.

Would she have jumped out of the helicopter dressed as the monarch? “I think I would have done it, strapped to somebody,” she said, adding the Queen was “such a good sport”.

Her new play, Peter And Alice, tells the story of a meeting between the real-life inspirations for Peter Pan and Alice In Wonderland. Dame Judi plays Alice. The role appealed because “the most different thing is what I like to do best.”

Snow ends the interview asking about her faith – she attended Quaker school The Mount in York and says she is still an active Friend. “I haven’t been to a Meeting, shamefully, for such a long time. I only said it about three days ago, I thought ‘good grief I must go’. I will.

“The wonderful thing about the Quakers is they know that you’ll do it. You’re not sleeping in on a Sunday.”

Does it inform you – are you a peacenik? “Yes. I think it informs everything I do,” Dame Judi says. “I couldn’t be without it.”