Dame Judi Dench will appear in a Countryfile special honouring Shakespeare this weekend.
The popular BBC One show will be marking the 400th anniversary of the death of the bard with a programme focusing on his love of the British countryside.
Filming of the Countryfile Shakespeare special (BBC Pictures)
Dame Judi will join presenter John Craven as they retrace the footsteps of The King’s Men – the acting troupe Shakespeare belonged to which toured the countryside performing his plays.
In the programme, John will meet Dame Judi in a bluebell wood in Fordwich, Kent, to discuss her love of Shakespeare, his works, and how they resonate with audiences today.
The pair embark on a journey by foot and boat in an attempt to discover where Shakespeare may have performed and discuss the many theories surrounding the famous playwright.
Having made her professional debut as Ophelia in Hamlet with the Old Vic Company in 1957, Dame Judi has also starred in Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.
Dame Judi Dench during filming of the Countryfile Shakespeare special (BBC Pictures)
She said: “I’m a huge fan of Countryfile. It was lovely to be part of it, and it was wonderful to learn that Shakespeare had toured with his company.”
John said few things in his long career would top 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”.
He described the veteran actress as a “delightful companion” and said her “life-long passion for Shakespeare’s work really shone through”.
Leading Shakespeare academic Dr Siobhan Keenan, from Leicester’s De Montfort University, also joins them on their journey.
Bill Lyons, executive editor of Countryfile, said: “Even today, Shakespeare’s words still shape the way that we look at the beautiful landscape of the British isles, its animals, flowers and woodlands.
John Craven and Dame Judi Dench during filming of the Countryfile Shakespeare Special (BBC Pictures)
“Judi is a countrywoman at heart and I can think of no-one better placed to follow in Shakespeare’s footsteps on this very special programme.”
Also on the programme, Ellie Harrison tracks down the forest believed to have inspired As You Like It, and Matt Baker searches for the secret cave in the Brecon Beacons rumoured to be the location for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Countryfile screens on BBC One on Sunday, April 24 at 7pm.