Dame Judi Dench has scooped one of the most prestigious awards in the arts by winning Japan’s Praemium Imperiale for Theatre and Film, a gong worth 15 million yen (approximately £115,000) and widely considered the Japanese equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
The award, one of the most valuable in the arts world, will be formally presented at a ceremony in Tokyo this October.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said the actress, responding to the news of her win. “I’ve been to Japan twice with the RSC and I made a lot of really good friends. I haven’t worked since February, so this is very nice.”
Dench, whose 50-year career has encompassed film, television and stage work, added, “I call myself a theatre actor. The greatest body of my work is in the theatre and the theatre is the thing I really love the best.”
Fellow Briton, sculptor Anish Kapoor, was also honoured with an award.
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, the prize’s UK adviser, was elated by the announcement, saying: “It’s a tremendous honour for Britain, Anish Kapoor and Judi Dench.”