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Judi Dench says failing eyesight saved her from fear during crocodile encounter

The Oscar-winning actress came face to face with a baby crocodile during a trip to Borneo.

Judi Dench
Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench has said her failing eyesight saved her from fear during a close encounter with a crocodile during a recent trip to Borneo.

The veteran actress previously revealed she struggles to enjoy watching films because of her macular degeneration, which causes the gradual loss of vision.

But she said the condition came in use during a late-night trip on the Kinabatangan River, when she was just metres from a baby crocodile.

Dame Judi Dench was just metres from a crocodile (Rui Vieira/PA)

Dame Judi, 84, joked that the rickety boat had made her more nervous than the animal itself.

Speaking at a screening of Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure, an ITV production, at the Royal Geographical Society in London, she recalled the cruise in the “febrile boat”.

She said: “There were only two occasions when I was nervous (in Borneo).

“And one was the little febrile boat. You don’t see how febrile it was (in the documentary). And quite a lot of us, Richard and Simon, we were all in the boat together.

“I thought we could never get any more people in, and we had (our guide) crouched at the front, and everyone going: ‘Oh look, eyes over there, look at the eyes’.

Dame Judi Dench
Dame Judi Dench said she was thankful she is shortsighted (Isabel Infantes/PA)

“Thank God I am shortsighted so I couldn’t see anything. But there were a lot of people. His mother was there and the rest of his family.”

The film star, who recently adopted three orangutans, visited a sanctuary for the great apes during the visit, which she described as “like an enormous dinner” featuring “endless courses of more and more wonderful things”.

She also said she did not judge local communities for damaging the rainforest as they attempted to make a living.

She said: “I don’t believe in going to a country and seeing the poverty that obviously people live in, and saying ‘You can’t do this’.

“There has to be a control, which is what everybody is so wonderful at, saying ‘This is the importance of it, but that is important too’.

Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure begins on ITV at 9pm on July 2.

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