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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Dame Judi was like Phil Mitchell

by Christa Minnick (2020-05-09)


Wild Borneo Adventure

Rating:

Inside The Bank Of England

Rating:

There you are, stretched out in your favourite recliner, enjoying a post-prandial kip, when someone starts shouting their head off. You open one eye and, wouldn't you just know, it's that ruddy Judi Dench.

The diminutive dame started causing trouble in the rainforest on her Wild Borneo Adventure (ITV) after conservationists pointed out a massive male orangutan snoozing in the high branches of a tree, and played her a recording of the ape's signature grunt.

Judi's pitch-perfect theatrical ear enabled her to imitate it exactly. She let out the menacing groan known as a 'long call', the battle cry of the alpha male orangutan. It warns all the other tough-guy primates in the forest to back off — like Phil Mitchell swaggering into the Queen Vic and growling: 'Ere I am then, come and have a go if you want your ticket punched.'






Dane Judi Dench started causing trouble when conservationists pointed out a male orangutan snoozing a tree



















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Up in his tree, the aggrieved ape scowled back. It was a look that plainly said: 'Get yourself up here and try repeating that.'

He might have thought twice if he'd seen the nimble dame, looking two decades younger than her 84 years, ascending a tree that was taller than Nelson's Column.

Strapped into a rope harness and hauled aloft by a gang of locals, she went fearlessly in search of exotic insects — and found a centipede with a venomous bite that can kill humans.

None of this daunted Judi. This show is part of a new trend for sending veteran thespians on safari, instead of the usual self-centred comedians, and this was certainly the right Shakespearean legend for the job.

She proved courageous, witty, bouncing with energy and constantly curious. When a praying mantis landed on her neck, or a soldier ant sprayed jets of foam towards her face, she reacted not with fear but fascination.

We've already seen Miriam Margolyes stomping across India and America, being grotesquely rude to anyone in her path, and Dame Julie Walters taking the train around Britain's coastline. What next — Dame Maggie Smith in the Antarctic? Those penguins better be on their best behaviour.

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