A Cheery Showbiz Anecdote

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In my old job we worked with a lot of screen legends and pretty soon you learn to keep your mouth shut about what they say or do, but a piece in the papers about Dame Judi Dench, now 85, being entirely unconcerned about how she was received in ‘Cats’, made me remember this tidbit. No, not from that production above – that’s her as Sally Bowles in ‘Cabaret’. Famously Dame Judi is nervous on sets and never feels relaxed before cameras, although it doesn’t show in performance.

I was working on a Bond set where she was playing ‘M’. The interior was the office of MI6, perfect down to the last detail, with a huge cyclorama of London through the windows lit for daylight. Dame Judi confided to me, ‘It quite throws me to walk in here because it all feels so real. The first time I came in I had to change my skirt and it all looked so realistic that I went to draw the curtains.’

2 comments on “A Cheery Showbiz Anecdote”

  1. Ian Mason says:

    Some many years ago myself and some friends used to hire ourselves out as road crew, lugging stuff in and out of gigs and setting up stages. We got a call to go and do a pre-tour rehearsal for, of all people, the band Kajagoogoo. This was on a stage at Shepperton film studio.

    The immediate prior users of that stage were the filmers of Firefox, a Clint Eastwood vehicle. This was pre-CGI and the stage had been used to shoot parts of the film’s aerial combat scenes and was still exactly as the Firefox crew had left it. There were canvas backdrops on all sides with convincing sky and clouds painted on them as long as you weren’t too close, ditto the floor, and ditto a canvas interior ‘roof’.

    It was weird enough standing on the floor, but rigging involves climbing ladders, some very tall. The feeling being on top of a 20 foot ladder looking at painted sky below, around and above you was quite, quite unsettling. The ladder provided just enough height to make the painting on the floor look real, and the distant backdrops already looked real. In those days I used to feel positively comfy on top of a tall ladder but the sensation of apparently floating in the clouds was uncanny, and I was glad when the day was over.

  2. John Howard says:

    A lovely story about a wonderful actress and person.

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