|Actress Judi Dench in 'Philomena'|
Judi Dench had a strange moment in West Africa in the early 1960s.
“During the tour, we went to lunch with a man from the British Council, and in the middle of the lunch I suddenly had a premonition that was so strong I asked if I could phone home to England, in a total stranger’s home,” she recalled in her memoir And Furthermore. “I rang home, and Daddy had just had his second heart attack. He had recovered from the first one in 1954, but this one was much more serious, and somehow I sensed it from thousands of miles away.”
Later, back in England in rehearsal at the Oxford Playhouse, she had a second premonition.
“I had set off from my flat in Regent’s Park Terrace when I suddenly had the strongest feeling that I should go back and ring Daddy. I talked to him and Mummy for about 20 minutes, and then I set off again for the rehearsal, and now I was quite late, just after midday, when usually I am one of the first to arrive. Daddy died later that day, just after midday. I didn’t know he was going to die, it was the same as in West Africa, I just knew I had to talk to him.”
Oddly enough, in West Africa Dench had been playing a witch (in addition to Lady Macbeth). In Oxford, she had been playing the Queen of Fairy in Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist.