DAME Judi Dench, the country's "greatest female actor", is appearing at Taunton's Brewhouse theatre in a major coup for the town's arts and culture scene.

The star of stage and screen will talk about her life and career on stage and screen at the event hosted by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes on Wednesday, November 2.

Both are donating their time for free to support Arts Taunton following an invite from the charity's founder Kit Chapman.

Mr Chapman recently wrote on the off chance to Dame Judi, who performed at an event in his family's Castle Hotel in the 1980s.

"She wrote the most charming letter back saying she remembered The Castle well and said she would like to come down to help fundraise for Arts Taunton," said Mr Chapman.

"I then wrote to Julian Fellowes who has worked with us at The Castle before and he said he'd love to host the evening.

"Julian will host a conversation about their lives in theatre, television and cinema.

"They will discuss her glittering career and reflect on the importance of our creative world in society today.

"Their discussion will be illustrated with clips from her work on screen and stage and the audience will be invited to ask questions."

Tickets for the evening on Wednesday, November 2, go on sale to Arts Taunton supporters and the Friends of the Brewhouse on Monday (August 22), with the general public able to book tickets from Wednesday. For details visit artstaunton.co.uk.

Dame Judi has appeared on stage in many classical roles, including Ophelia, Juliet and Lady Macbeth, while she took the part of M in several James Bond movies and appeared in TV shows As Time Goes By and Cranford.

Mr Chapman added: "Dame Judi Dench is our foremost theatrical dame, our greatest female actor. This is a unique opportunity..

"We're coming out of everything from the last two years with Covid and it's been tough raising money.

"We're relaunching our fundraising in an exciting way with this show at The Brewhouse.

"The Brewhouse has been very helpful and supportive and it's going to be a wonderful evening.

"Taunton needs big names like this. We need to start punching above our weight.

"We need to attract big names for people to recognise Taunton as a regional centre for arts and culture, to stop being a punctuation mark on the M5, to start being a destination."

£40 ticket, first four rows £50.