Dame Judy Dench swept the Olivier Awards on Sunday night (03 April) as she won a record eighth Olivier for her best supporting actress role as Paulina in Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company's production of The Winter's Tale. Proving her worth as a national treasure, Dench has won the most Oliviers for acting since the awards launched 40 years ago.
While Kenneth Cranham and Denise Gough bagged the gongs for best actor and actress respectively – Cranham for The Father and Gough for People Places and Things – it was Dench who made awards history during the ostentatious ceremony. The James Bond actress showed her quintessentially English sense of humour on accepting the award, saying: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm absolutely livid as I had a bet with my grandson ... and I'm never going to be able to forget it."
She also nodded to "a really fantastic company and crew and stage management", of the Shakespeare production at the Garrick Theatre. "Everybody says what a wonderful time they have doing something. I can truly say that in the Winter's Tale it was an absolutely memorable family," she added.
Talking of the prestigious accolade, she said: "It's lovely to have, but in actual fact it belongs to all those people just as much as it belongs to me."
Hosted by Michael Ball, the Olivier Awards took place at London's Royal Opera House and featured a performance by singer Cyndi Lauper – whose Kinky Boots was named best musical.
Gypsy the musical was also the toast of the evening after winning the most awards for a single production. Its four prizes includes best actress in a musical for runaway favourite Imelda Staunton along with best musical revival. Staunton, who opened the ceremony with a performance of Gypsy's Everything's Coming Up Roses, said: "We felt we were doing something special every night and every night we went out and wanted to do a better show than the night before."
The show also won for best lighting design while Lara Pulver was named best supporting actress in a musical. Winners of the red carpet would have to be Kit Harington and his Game Of Thrones co-star Rose Leslie, aka Jon Snow and Ygritte, who finally made their red carpet debut as a couple after previously keeping their relationship under wraps and only attending low-key events.
The couple put on a united front as they sauntered towards the event arm in arm, with Leslie wowing in an intricately detailed custom-made gold strapless gown by Burberry with her red hair styled in a chic updo. Her handsome beau looked equally impressive in his dapper tuxedo, also tailor made by luxury British fashion house Burberry, whilst his trademark dishevelled hair remained intact as he looked smitten with his girlfriend upon arrival.
Harington stood firm about his 'return' to Game of Thrones on Saturday night (2 April) when he appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show, telling the host: "I am no longer involved in the show, so any secrets that are with the show, I don't actually know any more, so it becomes very easy, Jonathan."
"You're looking at me like you don't believe me. It's going to be so relieving when people actually see the show and realise that I don't come back," he added.