Belfast Telegraph

Dench, Hoffman's love for tortoises

Dame Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman have revealed their keenness for tortoises as the stars of Esio Trot.

The pair star in the BBC adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic about a romance between two elderly neighbours and Dame Judi's character's obsession with her pet tortoise.

The former Bond star revealed her family had expected her, as an animal lover, to leave the shoot with a new pet: "And I said, 'No I won't, because a tortoise won't come running towards you when you get in the door', but I did get quite fond of the little tortoise Alfie."

However, she admitted that the poem she had to repeat as part of the story did cause him to become a little drowsy: "I said it to him so many times he went into a kind of stupor and would yawn a lot."

Dustin, 77, added of his own experience with tortoises: "I've had two tortoises. One made it under the [garden] fence and out to the traffic, got run over and had to be put down. The other one's survived. I got him on my 70th birthday."

He said of the large number of tortoises on set: "You've never smelled anything like it. That was the real thing, no CGI for us."

:: Esio Trot airs on BBC One on January 1 at 6.30pm.

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