Dame Judi Dench: ‘Classic FM is my friend, neighbour, lover... I listen at night when I can’t sleep’

27 March 2024, 21:59 | Updated: 1 April 2024, 13:06

Dame Judi Dench: ‘Classic FM is my friend, neighbour, lover... anything you like!’

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Dame Judi Dench on her favourite classical music, her personal connection to Vaughan Williams ‘The Lark Ascending’, and why Classic FM is always playing in her house.

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In her 90th birthday year, Dame Judi Dench has welcomed Classic FM’s Zeb Soanes into her home for a special exclusive interview about her favourite classical music, and what music has meant to her throughout a long and glittering life and career.

Among the favourite pieces she chose, was Ralph Vaughan Williams’ eternal work for solo violin and orchestra, The Lark Ascending, a piece quintessentially linked to the English countryside, and a long-lasting favourite in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.

“Well, it’s Vaughan Williams because you know, how can we live here and not have Elgar and Vaughan Williams with us all the time?” the much-loved actor said.

Referring to her late husband, she added: “And this was Michael’s favourite piece of music. Both of us really, but mostly Michael. And I remember once being at a Nottingham playhouse and going out one day with friends and stopping and lying in a corn field and looking up and hearing the larks.

“Well, Vaughan Williams must have done exactly that...”

Catch up with the interview on Global Player >

Zeb Soanes and Dame Judi Dench
Zeb Soanes and Dame Judi Dench. Picture: Classic FM

During the interview, which took place at Dame Judi’s home, Zeb noticed that there was one thing that tied together every room of the house – the sound of Classic FM, playing on the radio.

“Now, when I told you a couple of years ago that I was going to join Classic FM, your eyes lit up and you told me that you have it on in every room,” the presenter asked Dame Judi. “Is that true?”

Read more: Dame Judi Dench surprises pub crowd with impromptu ABBA ‘duet’

The actor replied: “It is absolutely true. I mean, you have to ask the rest of the family of people who come and help me here because they’re always coming and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got it on again’.

“I listen to it absolutely continually. And especially at night sometimes, if I can’t sleep. Classic FM is my, friend, neighbour, lover... anything you like,” Dame Judi laughed. “I’m right there with my ear at the radio.”

Zeb replied: “I’m sure Alexander Armstrong would be delighted to hear he is your wireless lover...”

Listen to Dame Judi’s Classical Favourites with Zeb Soanes on Friday 29 March, at 9pm on Classic FM.