Sibling Rivalry

Chiswick’s Dame Eileen beats on-screen sister to claim Bafta

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Chiswick’s Dame Eileen Atkins beat her on-screen sister Dame Judi Dench to be named best actress at the Bafta television awards for her role as Miss Deborah Jenkyns in BBC1’s costume drama Cranford.

Prior to the Bafta ceremony, co-star Dame Judi had quipped, "I've got my money on Dame Eileen," adding mischievously that there would be "a huge catfight" later.

The riverside resident who became a Dame in 2001, is perhaps best know for co-writing Upstairs Downstairs although she has appeared in many other productions including Gosford Park and as the Old Goat Lady in Cold Mountain"looking like an old tortoise and sounding like Dolly Parton".

The acclaimed actress, now 73, was "cheered up fantastically" when, weeks before her 70th birthday a Hollywood heartthrob reportedly tried everything he could to talk her into bed. At the time Dame Eileen would only reveal that her would-be seducer was 28 and "stunningly gorgeous", although her agent subsequently confirmed his identity as Colin Farrell, Dame Eileen's co-star in the film Ask the Dust. Although she did inform Farrell that "this is deeply inappropriate", and spent hours saying no, she recalled, "It was pure bliss and it made me sail through my 70th birthday without a care in the world."

April 25, 2008