Judi Dench: Prankster
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of April 17, 2017
April Fool’s Day came early for a bus driver in Hartfield, Kent, when he fell for a trick carried out at the beginning of last month by none other than Dame Judi Dench!
The 82-year-old mischief-making Academy Award winner turned in a stellar performance when she pretended to be opening up a brand new bus stop opposite a pub belonging to a landlord friend of hers, John Hawkridge. Dame Judi is a patron of Mr. Hawkridge's wildlife charity, The International Wildlife Coalition Trust, of which her partner David Mills is also a trustee.
Two years ago, Hawkridge played a similar prank when he found a bus stop pole four miles away in a hedge near a village pub. He brought the pole back to his own pub, stuck one of his pubs’ fliers in the timetable slot and erected the stop opposite his pub. Before long, the bus company made his fake stop an official one and Hawkridge’s takings at the pub reportedly doubled, as people lining up at the stop also popped into his pub for a quick pint.
As Jean with Geoffrey Palmer
Hawkridge thought he’d push his luck a little more this time, by placing another fake pole directly outside his pub and getting Dame Judi in on the act. In front of a crowd of about ten people, Dame Judi, who was accompanied by Mills and her 16-year old deaf dog, Minne, declared the bus stop open. In her "opening" remarks, Dench expressed her preference for buses over tubes, despite the fact she was unable to travel by bus as she was too short to manage the step up!
The actress’s performance must have been convincing because as she stuck out her hand for the next bus that came along, the bus driver stopped to let her on! Unfortunately though it seems he didn’t quite get the joke, as when Dench didn’t get into his bus, he drove off, reportedly muttering “well that was a waste of time”.
Dame Judi and Mills have been together about seven years now, having first met when Dench paid a visit to the British Wildlife Centre, which Mills founded over two decades ago. During the visit, Mills told Dench of his plans to help rebuild the red squirrel population and he asked her if she would help by opening up a walk-through red squirrel enclosure. Dench, who has always been an advocate for wildlife, agreed and the couple have been together ever since.
You can see Dame Judi every weekday afternoon at 3pm in As Time Goes By.
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