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Dame Judi Dench says pet parrot once said Boris Johnson’s name ‘clear as day’

Dame Judi Dench has said her pet parrot Sweetheart once spoke the name of former prime minister Boris Johnson “clear as day”.

The stage and film titan said the African grey “hardly ever speaks” but revealed that the bird said something “unusual” while she was sat in the garden one evening.

Speaking in Good Housekeeping’s January issue about what makes her laugh, the 88-year-old actress said: “My parrot, Sweetheart.

“She’s an African grey and she hardly ever speaks, but a little while ago, she said something quite unusual.

Good Housekeeping January 2024 issue
Dame Judi Dench on the cover of Good Housekeeping (Good Housekeeping/David Gubert)

“Three of us were sitting quietly in the garden, it was a beautiful evening and we were having a drink.

“Suddenly, clear as day, Sweetie said, ‘Boris Johnson’.”

In 2021 the actress told The Graham Norton Show that she had been given the “charming” bird at Christmas time.

In a recent interview with Louis Theroux for his BBC series, she told the documentarian that she “wouldn’t be without her for the world”.

The Oscar-winning actress also spoke to Good Housekeeping about her attitude to ageing and said: “I have no attitude to it; I don’t want to even think about it.

“A paramedic once said to me, ‘Do we have a carer? What’s our name?’ and I said, ‘I’ve just done eight weeks at the Garrick Theatre!’”

Discussing some of the ways she finds joy, she said: “By trying not to look ahead too much. If you start looking ahead, you miss the bits that are happening now.

Good Housekeeping January 2024 issue
Dame Judi Dench and Brendan O’Hea (Good Housekeeping/David Gubert)

“I find it very hard to talk about two or three days’ time; I think, ‘No, no, no, this bit is lovely.’

“That’s not to say you don’t prepare for things in the way that we have to, but I think it’s a pity if you waste the moment. Life is too short.”

In a new book called Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays The Rent, comprised of conversations she had with her friend, actor Brendan O’Hea, the actress speaks about some of the famous roles she has played, from Lady Macbeth and Titania to Ophelia and Cleopatra.

Discussing what it was like to work with fellow thespian O’Hea, Dame Judi said: “Because we’re old friends, it was just like having a very relaxed chat – or a long series of them.

“Brendan would come to my house, put his recorder on, and we’d talk about all these wonderful memories.”

The January 2024 issue of Good Housekeeping is now on sale.