Dame Judi Dench to make her Countryfile debut in Shakespeare-themed special

With some hay and a hoe, and a hey nonny no

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Love Elizabethan and Jacobean drama? Love the bucolic pastoral beauty of Britain’s countryside? A big fan of Skyfall? Then BBC1 might have just the show for you – a Countryfile Shakespeare special that will see iconic actor Dame Judi Dench follow in the bard’s footsteps across the UK.

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Joined by series host John Craven and academic Dr Siobhan Keenan, the special (which airs this weekend after the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death) retraces the steps of Shakespeare’s acting company The King’s Men, revisiting many sites of their performance during their touring days.

“I’m a huge fan of Countryfile,” Dench said in a statement. “It was lovely to be part of it, and it was wonderful to learn that Shakespeare had toured with his company.” 

“In my long career few things have topped the experience of standing in a 16th century hall where Shakespeare’s touring company once played and doing a bit of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet with Dame Judi Dench,” John Craven added. 

“She was a delightful companion as we traced the Bard’s journey by foot and boat through rural Kent and her life-long passion for Shakespeare’s work really shone through.”

The special will also see actor Bill Paterson visit the sites that might have inspired Macbeth, Matt Baker searching for a mysterious cave from Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ellie Harrison reliving the forest fun of As You Like It.

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The Countryfile Shakespeare special airs on BBC One at 7.00pm on 24 April