From the moment Judi Dench appeared as a teenager in the York Mystery Plays it was clear that acting would be her career. Trained at London's Central School of Speech and Drama it was her performance in her 20s as Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli's memorable Old Vic production that turned her into a star. In the theatre since, she has played every classic role from Titania (three times, most recently in 2010) to Cleopatra.
She first became a household name via television, thanks initially to a sit-com, A Fine Romance, in which she played alongside the actor Michael Williams, whom she married in 1971.
She has since made eight series of another sit-com, As Time Goes By (with Geoffrey Palmer), as well as plays and classic serials, Middlemarch and Cranford.
In the cinema, her films have ranged from Ladies In Lavender, opposite Maggie Smith, through Notes on a Scandal with Cate Blanchett to Shakespeare in Love, in which she played Queen Elizabeth, a role that gained her a Hollywood Oscar. But it is her role as 'M' in six James Bond films, beginning with Goldeneye in 1995, that has gained her worldwide recognition. This book is, however, much more than a career record.
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