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EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Wedded bliss? Not for me says Dame Judi Dench

Before Charles Dickens exchanged vows with his wife Catherine Hogarth, the great author made a list of the pros and cons of matrimony.

And it turns out that Dame Judi Dench is similarly hard-headed.

The Oscar-winner’s long-term boyfriend, the conservationist David Mills, has revealed that they considered tying the knot during the pandemic, even going to the extent of weighing up the benefits of marriage.

‘We hadn’t really looked into it before, but, during lockdown, we had a serious discussion, looking at the pros and cons,’ Mills tells me at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

‘After a lot of thought, we decided against it and thought, “We are happy to stay as we are.” ’

Dame Judi has spoken of the dramatic effect Mills has had on her life, explaining: ‘It’s great to meet someone who shares your sense of humour and interests.’

The Oscar-winner’s long-term boyfriend, the conservationist David Mills, has revealed that they considered tying the knot during the pandemic, even going to the extent of weighing up the benefits of marriage

Mills, 78, who runs the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey, has been courting Dench, 86, for 11 years. 

‘It’s not easy living in Judi’s shadow, and it did take a bit of getting used to, but, because I’m not an actor and competing with her, it’s worked out OK,’ he says.

Dame Judi’s 30-year marriage to Michael Williams was just as successful in real life as it was in the long-running sitcom A Fine Romance, in which they co-starred until his death from lung cancer in 2001 aged 65. 

The couple’s daughter, Finty Williams, 48, is also an actress.

Mills tells me that being Dench’s ‘plus-one’ does have benefits: ‘I get to meet all my environmentalist heroes like David Attenborough.’

Dame Judi’s 30-year marriage to Michael Williams was just as successful in real life as it was in the long-running sitcom A Fine Romance, in which they co-starred until his death from lung cancer in 2001 aged 65

Dame Judi has spoken of the dramatic effect Mills has had on her life, explaining: ‘It’s great to meet someone who shares your sense of humour and interests.’

Mills has helped her cope with her macular degeneration, reading scripts for her.

‘I’ve always loved someone to tell me the story rather than read it myself — it captures the imagination,’ she said.

Let’s hope it’s not Dame Judi’s pet parrot, Sweetie, that’s scared Mills off marriage.

 He admits: ‘The parrot has got well out of hand and keeps telling me to “b***** off” in a man’s voice.’

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