Judi Dench on film Allelujah's message about NHS frontline workers
Dame Judi spoke exclusively with RadioTimes.com and explained what drew her to star in the film.
Alan Bennett's brand new play adaptation Allelujah arrives in today (Friday 17th March), and it features a host of big names including Dame Judi Dench, Jennifer Saunders, David Bradley and Bally Gill.
The film centres on the story of a geriatric ward in a small Yorkshire hospital which is threatened with closure, but which gets the local community together in order to fight back. In doing so, they invite a news crew to film their preparations for a concert in honour of the hospital’s most distinguished nurse.
Speaking exclusively with RadioTimes.com, Dame Judi explained what particularly drew her to the film, explaining it was largely down to the talent both in front of and behind the camera.
She said: "What drew me to it is that I've always been a huge admirer of Alan Bennett's and known his work, but I've never done any of it. I've never done any play or film for him, and so that was very attractive."
She continued: "And then it was being directed by my great friend Richard Eyre, who we've worked with lots and lots of times. And not a huge part, had they said 'You will come in and just wipe the floor and walk off again', I'd have done that too. I didn't mind.
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"The thought of sitting in a nightie and sitting on the bed and doing the Times crossword and fancying the doctor, what a wonderful part to have. And being with a lot of friends too, and during COVID. So we were being very careful and being heralded. We were very well looked after on the film, and the film shows about who else we're all looking after."
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Dame Judi also spoke about the message of the film and how it celebrates NHS frontline workers, saying: "Perhaps it wouldn't have been so clear three years ago.
"But having had the last three years – or two and a half, whatever it is, I've lost count – I think we're all very, very, very much aware of how important it is, and what we owe to the NHS and what we've been out clapping for every night. Don't let's forget that."
The actress said she heard a "marvellous, touching" story recently about a small village.
"Somebody I know who lives and went out and clapped, a lot of those people had never actually met before. And because they had gone out and done this they formed relationships and concerns about each other, and found out about each other. And that seems to me to be part of a big question as well."
She continued: "We as a race I think are rather cautious about invading other people's privacy. There are so many people who now have to go to care homes, the debt that we owe the people who look after us is beyond measure. And I hope that people are aware of how tremendous – I'm sure they are – but I think this highlights how tremendous that is."
Additional reporting by Lewis Knight
Allelujah will be released in cinemas on Friday 17th March 2023. Check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.
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