Judi Dench [With an Introduction by John Miller] (Hachette Australia) 2014, 256pp, RRP $45.00

This glossy, heavy tome is an updated and expanded edition of Dame Judi’s autobiographical effort from 2005, Scenes From My Life, and it’s somewhat fitting that it’s being called a ‘photograph album’, as the actual writing she offers in between the pics is really rather poor. But don’t worry: she’s Judi Dench, an English ‘national treasure’, Oscar-winner and indomitable about-to-hit-80 senior star, and you’d better not let her catch you badmouthing her. Behind The Scenes - Judi Dench - Hachette - The Clothesline

Opening with a little flashbacking to her childhood, this becomes interesting once JD gets into the theatre, and there are shots from her performance alongside John Gielgud in a 1957 production of The Cherry Orchard, a Macbeth from 1976 where she appeared with a grinning Ian McKellen, and her role as Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, in Daniel Day Lewis’ infamous 1989 version, as well as some sweet sentiments about appearing with her heroes. There’s also a great deal about her meeting her future husband (and sometimes co-star) Michael Williams and family photos of them together at home, on holidays and with their daughter Finty and, later, Finty’s son Sammy, and Judi rather movingly states that after Williams’ death in 2001, she survived the grief through the support of friends and the ability to keep on working (although, ahem, the money would have surely helped too).

And Judi’s life in the cinema and on TV is captured in lots of photos: with Williams doing the BBC’s A Fine Romance; with Billy Connolly doing Mrs. Brown; with grumpy old Geoffrey Palmer doing As Time Goes By; with pal Maggie Smith doing a bunch of movies; with Dev Patel doing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; and with Daniel Craig as she did her M in Skyfall. And James Bond always showed her much more respect than he did Bernard Lee’s M, which was a wise move, as otherwise she might have bitten his head off.

Dave Bradley

This title is available through Hachette Australia. Click here to purchase your copy.

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