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 twenties 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 to Cleopatra.
She first became a household name via television, thanks initially to a sitcom, A Fine Romance, in which she played alongside the actor Michael Williams, whom she married in 1971.
She has since made nine series of another sitcom, As Time Goes By (with Geoffrey Palmer), as well as plays and classic serials such as Cranford. In the cinema her films have ranged from Ladies In Lavender (opposite Maggie Smith) through Notes on a Scandal with Cate Blanchett to Shakspeare In Love, in which she played Queen Elizabeth, a role which gained her a Hollywood Oscar. But it is her role as 'M' in seven James Bond films that has gained her worldwide recognition.