Judi Dench emotional as she overcomes fading sight to achieve lifetime goal
Dame Judi Dench is slowly losing her sight due to a degenerative eye condition, but the veteran film star overcame her sight loss to fulfill a lifetime ambition to see a golden eagle in the wild.
On Sunday night's episode of the BBC programme Countryfile the 88-year-old became emotional as she was able to see the animal clearly thanks to the help of wildlife cameraman Hamza Yassin, who found wider fame as the winner of last year's Strictly.
Philomena star Dame Judi and Hamza were travelling around in a car to a “secret location” when they had glimpses of the bird – before becoming successful.
The actress used a monitor to help her clearly see two golden eagles flying near a kestrel in the sky and said: “Oh, yes, I do (see it)… The kestrel’s not having too good a time. He’s being seen off.”
Asked by Hamza for her thoughts, Dame Judi looked tearful while laughing and said: “I could see one and you are a witness to seeing that I saw it… (I’m) very overcome… It’s an enormous privilege, don’t you (think)?” Hamza, 33, said: “It is, isn’t it?” Dame Judi said: “How often does anybody see that? Not very often.”
Hamza replied: “There’s few people in the UK that can say they’ve seen a golden eagle in the wild… and doing some pretty impressive behaviour.” Dame Judi said: “How brilliant. And I keep that (the video) and show it? “I never quite thought it would happen. (I believed) well, we’ll go out and we’ll be looking. They won’t (appear)… We saw them… thank you so much.”
It comes after Dame Judi confided in an interview with OK! last month that she wants to work “as much as I can”, despite the difficulties she’s having learning lines because her eye condition has left her barely able to see.
“I mean I can’t see on a film set anymore,” Judi tells us. “And I can’t see to read. So I can’t see much. But you know you just deal with it. Get on. It’s difficult for me if I have any length of a part. I haven’t yet found a way. Because I have so many friends who will teach me the script. But I have a photographic memory.”
On Countryfile, Dame Judi also spoke about her passion for natural spaces, which she previously explored in the one-off BBC documentary, Judi Dench: My Passion For Trees.
She said: “I think people’s attitude towards looking after the country is stronger now and is changing or we’re being made more aware of how we destroy and what we must preserve. We’re now aware of things like plastic and what harm it does in the sea and the rivers and hopefully… (we) will be even more focused on what we have. We can’t destroy that.”
During the programme, Dame Judi’s grandson Sam looked at tartan being made for the Bond actress, and her partner David Mills, who created the British Wildlife Centre on his Surrey farm, also appeared.
Dame Judi has previously been on Countryfile and in 2016 she took part in a William Shakespeare special to mark 400 years since the playwright’s death.
The Dame Judi Dench special episode of Countryfile aired at 7pm on Sunday on BBC One and is now available on BBC iPlayer.
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