Today, they are at the centre of British cultural life and among our greatest exports – the acting dames, an exclusive club of stage and screen greats who were honoured for their services to drama. But, lurking in the BBC archives – from long before their talents were recognised by royal decree – we find the early work and some career defining moments of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg and Helen Mirren. David Tennant narrates the story of our dames of classic drama, from a golden age of British television drama. “Dames of Classic Drama” airs on BBC Four on November 8, 20:00.
They are the finest actors of their generation, dominating stage and screen for fans of a certain age. BBC Four is to harness the artistic might of Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Michael Caine, and Dame Maggie Smith for a new season starring Britain’s “theatrical knights and dames”. The BBC will delve into its own archives for the best bits of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Ralph Richardson, Dame Diana Rigg and Dame Judi Dench, featuring interviews and performances from their heyday. The programme will go out over two one-hour episodes, to showcase the best of British drama. It is expected to include clips from stage, film and television, as well as the most candid interviews of their careers. A spokesman for the channel said: “Recognised by royal decree for their extraordinary achievements on the stage, many of our finest acting Knights and Dames have displayed their talents regularly on BBC Television throughout their careers and have helped earn Britain an enviable reputation as a superpower in the theatrical world.”