Judi Dench fears theatres will not reopen in her lifetime: ‘It’s a desperate feeling’

Actor called on government to provide more financial support to the sector

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 24 June 2020 20:44 BST
Boris Johnson announces that pubs, restuarants and hairdressers will be allowed to open on 4 July

Dame Judi Dench has said that she is unsure whether theatres will open again in her lifetime.

London’s West End was forced to close following the government’s banning of large gatherings on 16 March due to Covid-19, and more financial support for the sector is yet to be officially announced.

Speaking on Channel 4 News, Ms Dench said she does not see how the industry is “going to recover” if the government do not step in.

“It’s a desperate feeling, and when will they ever open again?” she said, adding: "I don’t know, certainly, I’m sure not in my lifetime.”

Ms Dench continued: “I’m not saying that it should be more prioritised than anything else, but it just is going to be a very serious. It’s a very serious effect on all of us.

“If the theatres now close and become dark. I don’t know when we’re going to get them back.”

At a recent press briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that theatres and music halls could reopen, but that live performances would not be allowed.

At the time, he failed to indicate whether further measures to support the industry would be provided, but Downing Street has now indicated this could happen.

“We are talking to the arts sector and considering ways in which we might be able to support them in addition to the unprecedented financial assistance we have already given,” Johnson’s official spokesman said,

Theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh has admitted that he thinks it’s unlikely that West End theatres will reopen before next year.

Mr Mackintosh, who is best known for producing shows such as Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton, appeared on Michael Ball’s BBC Radio 2 show on Sunday when he speculated that West End and Broadway theatre could be the last to go back compared to most other countries.

“It takes months and months to get huge shows like the kind we do up and running,” Mr Mackintosh said.

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