By Judi Dench
Weidenfeld and Nicholson £20
Dateline: 7th November, 2010
If you were to ask a random group of film and theatre buffs to name
their favourite actors, the odds are that the most common answer would
be Dame Judi Dench.
In work on stage and screen, in a career that now stretches for over
half a century, the great actress has repeatedly proved her skill and
versatility and, in doing so, ensured that she is now a household name.
and furthermore could easily have been written specifically
for the audio book or radio extract market. It is a book of reminiscences
that rarely gets far beneath the surface of a rich life that started
in the theatre and, after a few hiccoughs, made it very successfully
to both small and large screens.
Judi Dench was one of three children of a York-based doctor and his
wife, both of whom had a love of amateur dramatics. Eventually, their
offspring split 2-1 in favour of acting over medicine with little Judi
clearly far better suited to the stage than the operating room.
Her first big break came early with casting as Ophelia at the Old Vic,
at that time in 1957 a kind of cross between today's RSC and the National
She didn't look back as, in this book, there are no tales of "resting"
with the actress apparently constantly at work, generally happily.
In short chapters with many great photographs, the future Dame talks
to John Miller about her career and the famous names with whom she has
shared a stage or screen. She clearly has great affection for the likes
of John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft but, more particularly, the great
love of her life "My Michael", her husband Michael Williams
on whom she dotes, right up to his early death in 2001.
While and furthermore can feel rather like a procession through
a long and varied life, there will be much to please fans, whether of
the stage work or more likely, her performances in films such as Mrs
Brown and playing M browbeating James Bond, or opposite Geoffrey
Palmer on TV in the long-running sitcom As Time Goes By.
Ultimately, it is possible to build up a picture of Dame Judi Dench
but much more by reading between the lines (and she does seem to have
a knack of forgetting them on important opening nights) than what is
This is a proud, loyal woman with a great sense of humour and strong
love of family. She also has an addiction to every form of acting, loving
variety in her work to the extent of suggesting that her ideal would
be to alternate performances in the theatre with those on TV and film.
One strange fact which emerges is that the legendary actress does not
read any script before accepting it. Depending upon one's point of view,
this might suggest that she has an innate genius for picking winners
or possibly explain why she has appeared in the odd stinker.
As she says in the final chapter, Judi Dench is also a very private
woman who does not believe in airing her dirty linen in public. Therefore,
while and furthermore is a very pleasant canter across her life,
it still leaves space for somebody to write a more detailed and critical
biography, although that might be difficult to achieve on an official
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