Dame Judi Dench Recalls Shakespeare ‘Erection’ Blunder: ‘I Made A Terrible, Terrible Mistake’

Dame Judi Dench has no doubt had a few acting blunders in her time but one sticks out for her in particular.

The 84-year-old appears on Friday’s “Graham Norton Show” and tells a hilarious story about how she once said “erection” instead of “election” while performing in an early ’70s production of “The Merchant of Venice” by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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She says of the play, “I have never been fond of it. Everyone in it behaves very badly. Against my will I did once play Portia the first year I was married and Mike [her late husband Michael Williams] played Bassanio, and I had a speech to him and I made a terrible, terrible mistake.

“Instead of saying, ‘I speak too long; but ’tis to peize the time, to eke it and to draw it out in length, to stay you from election,’ I said ‘erection.’

“The wind band that was about to play put down their instruments and walked off the stage in shock. It caused a lot of unrest.”

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Dench appears on Friday’s show alongside her “All Is True” co-star Sir Kenneth Branagh. The flick follows the final years of Shakespeare’s life.

When asked about who has the best knowledge of the English writer, Branagh insists: “Of course, she does.

“When I started paraphrasing his words in the film, she just laughed and finished the end of the scene properly. We kept that in. She definitely knows more than me.”

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