When I first put together my list of 101 things to do in a 1001 days, someone suggested that I should put ‘Meet someone I really admire’ as one of my challenges. I didn’t, because, well, how does an average gal like me do that sort of thing?
It turns out that over the last year though my new hobby I have interviewed and met many people that I admire, the gorgeous Robert Lindsay, the powerhouse that is Kerry Ellis and the delightful Morgan Comer to name just a few (you can find all my interviews here).
But when it comes to meeting a REAL legend and someone who I think is pretty damn marvellous, it came quite by accident and not in my professional capacity at all. I had just had a lovely lunch with two friends and joined my family at the Lingfield Races family day. I quite enjoy the races, an occasional (very small) flutter and lots of time to chat with friends.
Near the end of the day a friend mentioned that Dame Judi Dench had been spotted in one of the VIP suites about 50yds to our right. At first I didn’t believe her, what ‘THE’ Judi Dench? But she assured me that she had seen her with her own eyes.
I am a big fan of Judi, I admire her career immensley. I still own the cast album (LP) of Cabaret when she starred as Sally Bowles, I grew up watching ‘A Fine Romance’ on TV, I have seen many of her movies ( best ‘M’ ever #girlpower). As a family we were delighted at her portrayal of Mrs Silver in Esio Trot on Boxing Day and even when she played a short cameo in The Vote at the Donmar Warehouse last month for the live TV recording she was superb!
So… I shamefully went on a bit of a stalking mission, I wanted to see if it was really her and if I could sneak a photo. My daughter came with me and we hung around edge of the suites for a while, and then she came out to watch the final race – yes it really was her, she really unmistakable isn’t she? I took a sneaky photo. She only stayed on the veranda while the race was on and then went back inside. but I had my grainy -out of focus photo so I was happy.
Then much to my horror / amusement /surprise, my bold as brass daughter, walked up to the suite, leaned over the fence and asked one of her party if she could have a photo with Judi as her mother was a big fan, I was mortified!
This wasn’t a stage-door, this was a private day out for her. I had felt guilty even photographing her. Her friend said that they were just about to leave but he would ask her and see. He asked us to wait. I reprimanded my daughter, well only a bit – quite proud of her nerve really. She has more guts than me.
After a couple of minutes, she, yes… THE…DAME…JUDI…DENCH… came out on the veranda and invited us in. I could not believe it, my knees were knocking. I was completely star struck.
She was sooo lovely, if she minded her private day being interupted she didn’t show it. We chatted for two or three minutes and she explained that her party were there celebrating her grandson’s 18th birthday and that they’d had a lovely day. I said that I was a big fan (how predictable of me) and that I was very much looking forward to seeing her in A Winter’s Tale in November at the Garrick. She said tickets were going very fast and that they would try and make it a good production (of course it will be!). I also told her about Theatre South East, I think that I was gabbling at this point.
I then took a picture of my daughter with this amazing actress and to my delight the security guard offered to take a photo of us all. I don’t do photos very often but on this occasion I certanly made an exception.
It was a fantastic experience and one I shall treasure. My daughter and I were grinning like Cheshire Cats all evening. Now that I am best friends with Judi Dench I wonder what’s the best way to get her to do an interview for me……dream……