Why are Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench now allowed to herd sheep in Stratford-upon-Avon?

By Tejinder Kaur-Thanki

Oscar winners Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh have unveiled a restored 18th century statue of William Shakespeare.

Both stars, who have played out a number of the Bard's roles in their illustrious careers on stage and on film, were at the Town Hall in Stratford-upon-Avon to celebrate the writer's upcoming 458th birthday.

The recently-restored statue was presented to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769 by David Garrick, and is located in a niche outside of the Hall.

The unveiling is part of wider celebrations to mark the Bard's birthday in his home town.

The stars have now also found themselves with some new-found local sheep-herding freedom along the way.

'I'll take the sheep on Sheep Street'

The Oscar winners having a giggle at the Shakespeare statue unveiling Credit: ITV News Central

The acting royalty also became the first ever Honorary Fellow recipients of the Freedom of the Town for their contributions to Shakespeare, which means they can now exercise their freedom by "herding sheep down Sheep Street." 

ITV Central Correspondent Andy Bevan asked Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh how being at the Oscars red carpet compared to today's "Sheep Street" tarmac in Stratford.

Sir Kenneth Branagh said " I think it's impressive ! It's a great crowd and I hope the weather kicks in for the Shakespeare celebrations".

Dame Judi Dench told ITV Central she was nervous today and would rather be "acting in a Hamlet play, unrehearsed"

She said "It means so much to be here to both of us and it's a big part of my life being here".

Shakespeare birthday celebrations - what's happening ?

The Oscar winners unveiling the Shakespeare statue Credit: ITV News Central

The town's famous birthday celebration parade is back for the first time since Covid, and attracts thousands of local, national and international visitors.

  • free entry to Shakespeare's Birthplace, Anne Hathaway's cottage and Shakespeare's New Place this weekend for all CV37 residents

  • K’antu Ensemble will perform an musical performance outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street

William Shakespeare was also a poet and actor and died on the same date he was born on, in 1616.

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