Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh are reunited for feature film on his troubled NI past

Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh are reunited in film about Branagh's troubled childhood in Northern Ireland, ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar reports

They arrive cracking jokes, and doing Clint Eastwood impersonations. No, really. The chat moves to Sophia Loren, Was I in something with her asks Dame Judi? I heard she keeps her looks by going to bed at six every evening adds Sir Kenneth. And so it continues.

Together they are quite the double act, laughing at each other and making everyone else in the room laugh too. They know each other incredibly well.

Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh have worked together several times on stage and screen.

In 2017 in Branagh’s film All Is True he played William Shakespeare and she played his wife Anne Hathaway.

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Now in their latest film together Belfast she plays his grandmother. Or at least the grandmother to the child in the film who Is based on Branagh himself when he was a young boy growing up in Belfast.

The film deals with the year 1969 when The Troubles came to the Protestant dominated street where Branagh and his family lived.

The sectarian violence would eventually lead to he and his family leaving Belfast for England, he was just nine at the time, but confesses the rupture never really left him. Belfast then is his return to those times to try and assimilate what happened.

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There have been many films made of course about The Troubles but this aims to tell the story in a very different way.

It is seen through the eyes of the young boy, Buddy, played by Jude Hill who gives an astonishing performance.

The scenes of violence are there - rioters tried to clear his terraced mainly Protestant street of Catholics - but it is more like a love story to the city of Branagh’s birth, something he achieved by using music and comedy and the perspective of an ordinary young boy, living in extraordinary times.

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It has had some rave reviews, and picked up a golden globe, and the Oscars buzz is deafening.

Dame Judi who took the role after Sir Ken read the whole script to her, says she would have fought for the role of the grandmother if it hadn’t come her way.

Dame Judi Dench stars as Kenneth Branagh's grandmother. Credit: Belfast/Universal Pictures

Even though it meant working on a Belfast accent ( her mother was from Dublin so the accents differ there she says) which Branagh enjoys ribbing her about. In fact they can’t resist poking fun at each other.

It’s a joy to be in the room with them, I’d pay good money to see their double act on stage! Their film meanwhile opens in cinemas tomorrow!