Long before becoming a television phenomenon in As Time Goes By, long before her seven outings as 007’ s boss M, long before her Oscar win in Shakespeare In Love, Judie Dench was a jobbing actress playing many of Shakespeare’s great roles, so much so that she used to joke to her husband, Michael Williams, that Shakespeare was the man who pays the rent.

Both worked almost continuously for the Royal Shakespeare Company during the Seventies, a solid decade delving into the canon, so her insights into the plays are incisive.

SHAKESPEARE THE MAN WHO PAYS THE RENT was never meant to be a book. Brendan O’Hea, Associate Artist at Shakespeare’s Globe, intended to record Judi talking about all the Shakespeare parts she has played for their archive department. But four years of interviews unearthed a treasure trove of knowledge, passion, laughter and argument and a book literally demanded itself into publication.

Twenty specific plays are explored, Judi’s phenomenal memory vividly recalling text, rehearsal, wardrobe and venues of the myriad productions and performances.

SHAKESPEARE THE MAN WHO PAYS THE RENT looks at the past, present and future of the Bard’s enduring works. On the perennial nature of the plays, Judi suggests “There are as many interpretations of Shakespeare as there are people who have ever been, are and will be.”

From her history comes experience and through this book we share the exuberance of a lived experience, serving scripts that speak to us today just as they did over four hundred years ago.

In love with Shakespeare, truly, yet there is one play she detests – The Merchant of Venice and she vents her spleen on this play emotionally – “We called it The Merchant of Vomit. I think it’s a horrible play. Shakespeare must have been having a funny turn when he wrote it. Nobody really redeems themselves.”

Judi shares Shakespeare tips, shines some light on various directors and co-stars, and is not backward in coming forward about pet peeves – uppermost the miking of actors on stage. Hear hear!!

SHAKESPEARE THE MAN WHO PAYS THE RENT by Judi Dench is published by Michael Joseph.