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    Dame Judi Dench recalls Geoffrey Palmer told her they’d wanted another actress for As Time Goes By

    Dame Judi Dench recalls how the late Geoffrey Palmer told her they wanted another actress for As Time Goes By during their first lunch meeting

    They were inseparable friends for almost 30 years. 

    And Dame Judi Dench has revealed her collaboration with the late Geoffrey Palmer nearly didn’t happen. 

    In an emotional interview with this week’s Radio Times just days after the comedian died aged 93, the actress, 85, recalled meeting her co-star for lunch to discuss As Time Goes By. 

    ‘He got us off to a good start’: Dame Judi Dench, 85, has revealed her collaboration with the late Geoffrey Palmer nearly didn’t happen

    She said: ‘He got us off to a good start when he informed me that they’d wanted Jean Simmons for the part, but she’d declined!’ 

    Judi and Geoffrey starred in As Time Goes by from 1992 onwards, with Geoffrey playing Lionel Hardcastle.  

    She paid tribute to her late friend, who died earlier this month, saying she couldn’t have done the show with anyone else. 

    Judi said: ‘When you acted with him, you’d just feel very safe. 

    Inseparable: Judi became lifelong friends with co-star Geoffrey, staying inseparable friends for almost 30 years

    Inseparable: Judi became lifelong friends with co-star Geoffrey, staying inseparable friends for almost 30 years

    ‘Geoffers was so sure on comedy that you could be pretty secure in knowing he would get you through it and make it funny. 

    Emotional: The actress was speaking to the Radio Times in an emotional interview just days after Geoffrey's death

    Emotional: The actress was speaking to the Radio Times in an emotional interview just days after Geoffrey’s death 

    ‘I certainly couldn’t have done As Time Goes By with anyone else.’  

    Judi presented Palmer with an Oldie award in 2018, joking that he was ‘the naughtiest man I ever had the pleasure to work with’ and that the trophy should be for ‘most promising newcomer’. 

    The pair also starred in 1997’s Mrs Brown and Tomorrow Never Dies, the James Bond blockbuster.  

    Recalling how Geoffrey was a private man who gave few interviews, she said: ‘He took acting very seriously, but he would sometimes say he would rather be fishing on a riverside in Scotland.’ 

    She continued: ‘Geoffers was a terrific man and most remarkable friend and actor. I wouldn’t have missed a moment of our time together for the world.’  

    Geoffrey’s agent said on November 6: ‘We regret to sadly announce that the actor Geoffrey Palmer died peacefully at home yesterday aged 93.’   

    As Time Goes By: Judi and Geoffrey starred in As Time Goes by from 1992 onwards, with Geoffrey playing Lionel Hardcastle

    As Time Goes By: Judi and Geoffrey starred in As Time Goes by from 1992 onwards, with Geoffrey playing Lionel Hardcastle

    The veteran star, known for his hangdog features and distinctive voice, had parts in some of the nation’s best-loved TV series and was once a staple on screens watched by millions.

    Younger viewers will remember his turn in the 2014 Paddington film where he played Head Geographer. 

    Those longer in the tooth will remember him from the The Avengers and The Saint in the 1960s, and alongside Leonard Rossiter in The Rise And Fall of Reginald Perrin in the 1970s.

    He also starred in multiple episodes of Doctor Who, including the 1970 episode Doctor Who And The Silurians and 2007’s Voyage Of The Damned.  

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