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LONDON — Judi Dench, a veteran of stage and screen, has been awarded a BFI Fellowship award, the British Film Institute’s highest accolade.
BFI chair Greg Dyke presented the Oscar-winning actress with the award during the annual Chairman’s dinner in the British capital.
“For someone who was told in 1959 that they would never make it in the film industry I feel incredibly surprised and privileged to be receiving this Fellowship from the BFI,” Dench said.
Dyke described Dench as a “national treasure” and said her contribution to British film and television has been “outstanding for over 50 years.”
Born in 1934, Dench played Ophelia in Hamlet at The Old Vic Theatre over 50 years ago and went on to garner popular and critical acclaim for a career marked by outstanding performances in both classical and contemporary roles.
The BFI Fellowship is intended to recognize “outstanding achievement in film and television,” given to those who have helped shape film and television culture in the U.K.
The list of BFI Fellows includes Peggy Ashcroft, Dirk Bogarde, Richard Attenborough, Alec Guinness, Maggie Smith, Bernardo Bertolucci, Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Jack Cardiff, Jeanne Moreau and Mike Leigh.
Her numerous awards includes an Academy Award and a British Academy Award for her role in Shakespeare In Love, eight other BAFTA Awards and three Laurence Olivier Awards for her stage turns.
Her other Academy Award-nominated turns have been in Lasse Hallstrom’s Chocolat, Iris directed by Richard Eyre, Stephen Frears‘ Mrs. Henderson Presents and Notes On A Scandal, also directed by Eyre.
She has also enjoyed a stellar career on the small screen including her Golden Globe and BAFTA award-winning turn in The Last of the Blonde Bombshells and the long-running hit BBC sitcom, As Time Goes By.
Most recently she starred as Miss Matty in the critically-acclaimed BBC series Cranford, for which she received best actress nominations at the BAFTA Awards, the Golden Globes and the Emmy Awards.
Her stage acting has also caught the nods on both sides of the pond securing her Laurence Olivier Awards for Anthony and Cleopatra, Absolute Hell, and A Little Night Music (all at The National Theatre).
Her performance in Amy’s View, directed by Eyre, brought her a Critics Circle Award and an Olivier Award nomination when it played in London (at The National and Aldwych) followed by a Tony Award for Best Actress when the play transferred to Broadway.
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