Judi Dench

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Posted by bender 03/02/2009 @ 22:01

Tags : judi dench, actors and actresses, entertainment

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Penelope left badly bruised in new film - Hindustan Times
Hollywood actress Penelope Cruz was left badly bruised by her vigorous dance efforts in new film Nine. Also starring Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie and Daniel Day Lewis, Cruz reveals filming the burlesque scenes was quite an...
Nine Trailer Woos Academy, Straight Men. Trade Roughage 05/14/09 - SpoutBlog
Otherwise, I'm hereby predicting Dame Judi Dench gets the trophy for sporting Catherine Zeta-Jones' Oscar-winning bob (only grayer). I must admit that at first I thought I was watching a music video for Daft Punk's “Aerodynamic....
Penélope Cruz Hit by Food Poisoning in Cannes - People Magazine
He then introduced Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard, another star of the ensemble piece, which also sees appearances from Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench, Fergie, Daniel Day-Lewis and Sophia Loren. "It was an amazing adventure,...
Anti-Matter, The Pope and LED Lights - Greentech Media
Judi Dench, apparently, is a big fan of these cooler lights. The lights are also nearly indestructible. (See video here of founder Jim Sanfilipo bashing one against at desk.). It doesn't break. Ordinary spotlights would shatter and let hazardous gases...
Judi Dench and Maureen Lipman hit back - Telegraph.co.uk
Meanwhile Judi Dench has also got the hump after I wrote that Dame Judi ought to give up the role of M in the increasingly nasty James Bond films, and followed that with a stinging review of her performance in Madame de Sade at Wyndham's Theatre....
'Nine' trailer: All the single ladies...and just one guy - Entertainment Weekly
I only hope the stunt casting here (from DDL and Judi Dench to Kate Hudson and Fergie) pays off! Only DDL would go from "There Will Be Blood" to this...and he's probably the only living actor able to make both roles 100% believable....
"Nine" lives, and other topics - Seattle Times
Will "Star Trek" stay on top of the box office, or will "Angels & Demons" do devilish business? And what do you think of the very all-that-jazzy trailer for "Nine"? (I know, I know; I said I tried not to watch trailers. Any musical featuring Judi Dench...
'Rage' On Its Way - Indie Wire
In the deal, Rage will debut on video site Babelgum through both broadband and mobile channels, later this year. The film, which premiered at this year's Berlinale, stars Judi Dench, Jude Law, Steve Buscemi, Eddie Izzard, and many more....
NINE Trailer - The Dish
The film boasts a heavy-weight cast including Marion Cottilard (Fair Play, Public Enemies), Penelope Cruz (Vanilla Sky, Volver), Judi Dench (Notes On A Scandal, Quantum Of Solace), Nicole Kidman (The Hours, Bewitched), Sophia Loren (Prêt-à-Porter),...

Judi Dench

Judi Dench at the BAFTAs 2007.jpg

Dame Judith Olivia Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA (born 9 December 1934) is an English actress. She has won nine BAFTAs, seven Laurence Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, an Oscar, two Golden Globe's and a Tony Award.

Dench was born in York, North Riding of Yorkshire, the daughter of Eleanora Olave Jones, a native of Dublin, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor who met Judi's mother while studying medicine at Trinity College. Dench was raised a Quaker and lived in Tyldesley, Greater Manchester. Notable relatives include her older brother, actor Jeffery Dench, and her niece, Emma Dench, a Roman historian previously at Birkbeck, University of London, and currently at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

When Dench was 13, she entered The Mount School, York. In 1971, Dench married British actor Michael Williams and they had their only child, Tara Cressida Williams (aka "Finty Williams"), on 24 September 1972. She has followed the family's theatrical tradition, becoming a highly accomplished actress in her own right.

Dench and her husband starred together in several stage productions, as well as separately, but then paired again to make television history with Bob Larbey's hit British sitcom, A Fine Romance (1981–84).

Michael Williams died from lung cancer in 2001, aged 65.

In Britain, Dench has developed a reputation as one of the greatest actresses of the post-war period, primarily through her work in theatre, which has been her forte throughout her career. She has more than once been named number one in polls for Britain's best actress. Research to find "the perfect voice" has indicated that Dench's voice is one of the best.

Dench was awarded the OBE in 1970, became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1988, and a Companion of Honour in 2005. She gained worldwide popular fame after taking over the role of M in the James Bond film series in 1995, and subsequently through many acclaimed film appearances.

Dench is a patron of The Leaveners, Friends School Saffron Walden and the Archway Theatre, Horley, UK. She became president of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London in 2006, taking over from Sir John Mills, and is also president of the Questors Theatre. In May 2006, she became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She is also patron of Ovingdean Hall School, a special day and boarding school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Brighton.

Dench is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. In 2000-2001 she received an Honorary DLitt from Durham University. On 24 June 2008, she was honoured by the University of St Andrews, receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) at the university's graduation ceremony.

Judi Dench trained as a set designer before taking up acting at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art. Subsequently, she was involved on a non-professional basis in the first three productions of the modern revival of the York Mystery Plays in the 1950s. Most famously, she played the role of the Virgin Mary in the 1957 production, performed on a fixed stage in the Museum Gardens.

In September 1957, she made her first professional stage appearance with the Old Vic Company, at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, as Ophelia in Hamlet, then her London debut in the same production at the Old Vic. She remained a member of the company for four seasons, 1957–1961, her roles including Katherine in Henry V in 1958 (which was also her New York debut) and as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet in October 1960, directed and designed by Franco Zeffirelli. During this period, she toured the United States and Canada, and appeared in Yugoslavia and at the Edinburgh Festival.

She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in December 1961 playing Anya in The Cherry Orchard at the Aldwych Theatre in London, and made her Stratford-upon-Avon debut in April 1962 as Isabella in Measure for Measure. She subsequently spent seasons in repertory both with the Nottingham Playhouse from January 1963 (including a West African tour as Lady Macbeth for the British Council), and with the Oxford Playhouse Company from April 1964.

But one of her most notable achievements with the RSC was her performance as Lady Macbeth in 1976. Nunn's acclaimed production of Macbeth was first staged with a minimalist design at The Other Place theatre in Stratford. Its small round stage focused attention on the psychological dynamics of the characters, and both Ian McKellen in the title role, and Dench, received exceptionally favourable notices. "If this is not great acting I don't know what is.": Michael Billington, The Guardian. "It will astonish me if the performance is matched by any in this actress's generation.": J C Trewin, The Lady. The production transferred to London, opening at the Donmar Warehouse in September 1977, was filmed for television, and later released on VHS and finally DVD. She won the SWET Best Actress Award in 1977.

She enjoyed a romantic pairing with Jeremy Irons in 1978, in the BBC television film Langrishe, Go Down, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, directed by David Jones, in which she played one of three spinster sisters living in a fading Irish mansion in the Waterford countryside.

Dench made her directing debut in 1988 with the Renaissance Theatre Company's touring season, Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road, co-produced with the Birmingham Rep, and ending with a three month repertory programme at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Dench's contribution was a staging of Much Ado About Nothing, set in the Napoleonic era, which starred Kenneth Branagh and Samantha Bond as Benedick and Beatrice. In the same season, Geraldine McEwan and Derek Jacobi also made their directorial debuts.

She has made numerous appearances in the West End including the role of Miss Trant in the 1974 musical version of The Good Companions at Her Majesty's Theatre. In 1981, Dench was due to play the title role of Grizabella in the original production of Cats, but was forced to pull out due to a torn Achilles tendon, leaving Elaine Paige to play the role. She has acted with the National Theatre in London where, in September 1995, she played Desiree Armfeldt in a major revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, for which she won an Olivier Award.

In 1995, she became known to an international audience after taking over the role of M (James Bond's boss) with the James Bond film series, starting with GoldenEye. She is the only actor from Pierce Brosnan's Bond films to remain in the rebooted franchise. She has appeared in Casino Royale (2006) and its direct sequel Quantum of Solace (2008).

She has won multiple awards for performances on the London stage, including a record six Laurence Olivier Awards. She also won the Tony Award for her 1999 Broadway performance in the role of Esme Allen in David Hare's Amy's View. Alongside her numerous award winning performances, she has also managed to take on the role of Director for a number of stage productions. Dench won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare in Love.

Judi Dench has frequently appeared with her close friend Geoffrey Palmer, in the series As Time Goes By, where she play Jean Pargetter, and when she marries Lionel becomes Jean Hardcastle, this program spanned nine series, and in the films Mrs. Brown and Tomorrow Never Dies, both filmed in 1997. Dench has also lent her incredible voice to many animated characters, narrations, and various other voice work. She plays the role of "Miss Lilly" in the children's animated series Angelina Ballerina (alongside her daughter, Finty Williams, as the voice of Angelina) and as Mrs. Calloway in the Disney animated film Home on the Range. She has narrated various classical music recordings (notably Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Britten's Canticles-The Heart of the Matter), and has appeared in numerous BBC radio broadcasts as well as commercials. Her many television appearances include lead roles in the series A Fine Romance and As Time Goes By. In the U.S., As Time Goes By has been run repeatedly on PBS, and may well be -- along with her Bond role -- the entity for which Dench is best known to American audiences.

Dench remains one of the biggest draws on the London stage. She is often compared and contrasted with Dame Maggie Smith, another British actress of the same generation, with whom she has appeared in several movies, including Tea with Mussolini (1999) and Ladies in Lavender (2004), and on stage in David Hare's two-role play Breath of Life (Haymarket, October 2002). Dench returned to the West End stage in April 2006 in Hay Fever alongside Peter Bowles, Belinda Lang and Kim Medcalf.

She finished off a busy 2006 with the role of Mistress Quickly in the RSC's new musical The Merry Wives, a version of The Merry Wives of Windsor. at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Dench's more recent film career has been extremely successful. She successfully garnered six Academy Award nominations in nine years for Mrs. Brown in 1997; her Oscar-winning turn as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love in 1998; for Chocolat in 2000; for the lead role of writer Iris Murdoch in Iris in 2001 (with Kate Winslet playing her as a younger woman); for Mrs Henderson Presents (a romanticised history of the Windmill Theatre) in 2005; and for 2006's Notes on a Scandal, a film for which she received critical acclaim, including Golden Globe, Academy Award, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild nominations.

In 2007 the BBC issued The Judi Dench Collection, DVDs of eight television dramas: Talking to a Stranger quartet (1966), Keep an Eye on Amélie (1973), The Cherry Orchard (1981), Going Gently (1981), Ghosts (with Kenneth Branagh and Michael Gambon, 1987), Make and Break (with Robert Hardy, 1987), Can You Hear Me Thinking? (co-starring with her husband, Michael Williams, 1990) and Absolute Hell (1991).

Dench, as Miss Matty Jenkins, co-stars with Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton and Francesca Annis, in the BBC One five-part series Cranford. The series began transmission in the UK in November 2007, and on the BBC's US producing partner station WGBH (PBS Boston) in spring 2008.

Dench narrated the updated Walt Disney World Epcot attraction Spaceship Earth.

In February 2008, she was named as the first official patron of the York Youth Mysteries 2008, a project to allow young people to explore the York Mystery Plays through dance, film-making and circus. This culminated on 21 June with a day of city centre performances in York.

She worked on the 22nd Bond adventure Quantum Of Solace and reprised her role as M.

She is also interested in Thoroughbred horse racing and in partnership with her chauffeur Bryan Agar owns a four-year-old horse "Smokey Oakey" who won the 2008 Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

She will return to the West End from 13 March—23 May 2009 in Yukio Mishima's Madame De Sade, directed by Michael Grandage as part of the Donmar season at Wyndham's Theatre.

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GoldenEye's opening title sequence featured a woman destroying the hammer and sickle.

GoldenEye (1995) is the seventeenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the first to star Pierce Brosnan as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film was directed by Martin Campbell and unlike previous Bond films, is unrelated to the works of novelist Ian Fleming, although the name "GoldenEye" was taken from his estate in Jamaica. The story was conceived and written by Michael France, with later collaboration by other writers. In the film, Bond fights to prevent an arms syndicate from using the GoldenEye satellite weapon against London in order to cause a global financial meltdown.

GoldenEye was released in 1995 after legal disputes forced a six-year hiatus in the series, during which Timothy Dalton resigned from the role of James Bond and was replaced by Pierce Brosnan. M was also recast, with actress Judi Dench becoming the first woman to portray the character. GoldenEye was the first Bond film made after the downfall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, which provided a background for the plot.

The film accumulated a worldwide gross of $350.7 million - considerably better than Dalton's films, without taking inflation into account. Some critics viewed the film as a modernisation of the series, and felt Brosnan was a definite improvement over his predecessor. The film also received award nominations for "Best Achievement in Special Effects" and "Best Sound" from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

MI6 agents 007 (James Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan) and 006 (Alec Trevelyan, played by Sean Bean), infiltrate an illicit Soviet chemical weapons facility at Arkhangelsk and plant explosive charges. Trevelyan is captured and shot dead by Colonel Arkady Ourumov (Gottfried John), but Bond steals an airplane and escapes from the facility as it explodes.

Nine years later, Bond arrives in Monte Carlo to follow Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), a suspected member of the Janus crime syndicate, who has formed a suspicious relationship with a Canadian Navy admiral. She murders the admiral to allow Ourumov (now a General) to steal his identity. The next day, they steal a prototype French Tiger helicopter that can withstand an electromagnetic pulse, despite Bond's efforts to stop them. They fly it to a bunker in Severnaya, where they massacre the staff and steal the control disk for the dual GoldenEye satellite weapons. The two program one of the GoldenEye satellites to destroy the complex with an electromagnetic pulse, and escape with traitorous programmer Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming). The pulse also destroys three Russian MiG aircraft dispatched to check on the facility; one crashes into the complex destroying it. Natalya Simonova, (Izabella Scorupco), the lone survivor, contacts Grishenko and arranges to meet him in St. Petersburg, where he betrays her to Janus.

In London, M (Judi Dench) assigns Bond to investigate the attack due to circumstantial evidence, and he flies to St. Petersburg to meet CIA agent Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker). He suggests Bond meet Valentin Zukovsky, (Robbie Coltrane), a Russian Mafia head and business rival of Janus. After Bond gives him a tip on a potential heist, Zukovsky arranges a meeting between Bond and Janus, who reveals himself as Trevelyan. A Lienz Cossack, Trevelyan faked his death, having vowed revenge against Britain for their involvement in his parents' deaths. He ties Bond up with Simonova in the Tiger helicopter programmed to self-destruct, from which the two escape using its ejection system. They are immediately arrested by the Russian police and interrogated by the Minister of Defence, Dmitri Mishkin (Tchéky Karyo). Just as Simonova reveals the existence of a second satellite and Ourumov's involvement in the massacre at Severnaya, Ourumov bursts into the room, shooting Mishkin and dragging Simonova into a car. Bond steals a T-55 tank and pursues Ourumov through St. Petersburg to Janus' armoured train, where he kills Ourumov as Trevelyan escapes, locking Bond in the train with Simonova. As the train's self-destruct countdown begins, Bond cuts through the floor with a laser watch while Simonova locates Grishenko's satellite dish in Cuba using a computer. The two escape just before the train explodes.

In Cuba, Bond and Simonova fly a plane over the jungle before they are shot down. As they stumble out of the wreckage, Onatopp rappels down from a helicopter and attacks Bond, who resists and kills her. Minutes later, he and Simonova watch a lake being drained of its water, uncovering the dish. They infiltrate the control station, where Bond is captured. Trevelyan reveals his plan to steal money from the Bank of England before erasing all of its financial records with the remaining GoldenEye, concealing the theft and destroying Britain's economy.

Meanwhile, Simonova programs the satellite to initiate atmospheric reentry and destroy itself. As Trevelyan captures Simonova and orders Grishenko to save the satellite, Bond triggers an explosion with his Parker Jotter pen grenade provided by Q, and escapes to the antenna cradle. Bond sabotages the antenna, preventing Grishenko from regaining control of the satellite, before turning and facing Trevelyan. Bond pushes Trevelyan off the antenna and into the dish before escaping aboard a helicopter commandeered by Simonova. The cradle collapses, crushing Trevelyan and rupturing liquid nitrogen tanks that freeze Grishenko. Meanwhile on the surface, Bond and Simonova are rescued by Wade and a platoon of U.S. Marines.

Licence to Kill had underperformed at the American box office and was the worst domestic grossing movie of the James Bond films. Also, in 1989, MGM/UA was sold to the Australian based broadcasting group Qintex, which wanted to merge the company with Pathé. Danjaq, the Swiss based parent company of EON Productions, sued MGM/UA because the Bond back catalogue was being licensed to Pathé, who intended to broadcast the Bond series on television in several countries across the world without the approval of Danjaq. These legal disputes delayed the film for several years.

While the legal disputes went on, Timothy Dalton was still expected to play Bond in the new film, The Property of a Lady, as he had originally signed up for a three-film contract. Pre-production work began in May 1990 with a story draft written by Alfonso Ruggiero Jr. and Michael G. Wilson. Production was set to start in 1990 in Hong Kong for a release in late 1991. However, the legal disputes meant that these dates slipped. In an interview in 1993, Dalton said that Michael France was writing the story for the film, which was due to begin production in January or February 1994. However, the deadline passed, and in April 1994, Dalton officially resigned from the role. To replace Dalton, the producers cast Pierce Brosnan, who had been prevented from succeeding Roger Moore in 1985 because of his contract to star in the Remington Steele series. Judi Dench was cast as M, thus making GoldenEye the first film of the series featuring a female M. The decision is widely believed to be inspired by Stella Rimington becoming head of MI5 in 1992.

GoldenEye was produced by Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions. With Albert Broccoli's health deteriorating (he died seven months after the film's release), his daughter Barbara Broccoli described him as taking "a bit of a back seat" in film's production. In his stead, Barbara and Michael G. Wilson took the lead roles in production. The producers then chose New Zealander Martin Campbell as the director. Brosnan later described Campbell as "warrior-like in his take on the piece" and that "there was a huge passion there on both our parts". Campbell would go on to direct Casino Royale in 2006. The producers had originally chosen not to use the now elderly Richard Maibaum, long-time writer for the series (he died in 1991) After Michael France wrote the original screenplay, Jeffrey Caine was brought in to rewrite it. Caine kept many of France's ideas but added the prologue prior to the credits. Kevin Wade polished the script and Bruce Feirstein added the finishing touches. In the film, the writing credit was shared by Caine and Feirstein, while France was credited with only the story, an arrangement he felt was unfair, particularly as he believed the additions made were not an improvement on his original version. Wade did not receive an official credit, but was acknowledged in the naming of Jack Wade, the CIA character he created.

While the story was not based on a work by Ian Fleming, the title GoldenEye traces its origins to the name of Fleming's Jamaican estate where he wrote the Bond novels. Fleming gave a number of origins for the name of his estate, including Carson McCullers' Reflections in a Golden Eye and Operation Goldeneye, a contingency plan Fleming himself developed during World War II in case of a Nazi invasion through Spain.

Since the release of Licence to Kill, the world had changed drastically. GoldenEye was the first James Bond film to be produced since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This cast doubt over whether James Bond was still relevant in the modern world, as many of the previous films pitted him against Soviet villains trying to take advantage of the Cold War. Much of the film industry felt that it would be "futile" for the Bond series to make a comeback, and that it was best left as "an icon of the past" However, when released, the film was viewed as a successful revitalization and it effectively adapted the series for the 1990s. One of GoldenEye's innovations was the casting of a female M. In the film, the new M quickly establishes her authority, remarking that Bond is a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur" and a "relic of the Cold War". This is an early indication that Bond is portrayed as far less tempestuous than Timothy Dalton's Bond from 1989.

Principal photography for the film began on January 16 1995 and continued until June 6. The producers were unable to film at Pinewood Studios, the usual location for Bond films, because it had been reserved. Instead, an old Rolls-Royce factory at the Leavesden Aerodrome in Hertfordshire was converted into a new studio. The producers later said Pinewood would have been too small.

The film's casino scenes and the Tiger helicopter's demonstration were shot in Monte Carlo. Reference footage for the tank chase was shot on location in St. Petersburg and matched to the studio at Leavesden. The climactic scenes on the satellite dish were shot at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The actual MI6 headquarters were used for external views of M's office. Some of the scenes in St. Petersburg were actually shot in London — the Epsom Downs Racecourse doubled the airport — to reduce expenses and security concerns, as the second unit sent to Russia required bodyguards.

The French Navy provided full use of the frigate FS La Fayette and their newest helicopter, the Eurocopter Tiger to the film's production team. The French government also allowed the use of Navy logos as part of the promotional campaign for the film. However, the producers had a dispute with the Ministry of Defence over Brosnan's opposition to French nuclear weapons testing and his involvement with Greenpeace; as a result, the French premiere of the film was cancelled.

The sequences involving the armoured train were filmed on the Nene Valley Railway, near Peterborough in the UK. The train comprised of a British Rail Class 20 diesel-electric locomotive and a pair of BR Mk 2 coaches, all three heavily disguised to resemble a Soviet armoured train.

GoldenEye was the last film of special effects supervisor Derek Meddings, to whom the film was dedicated. Meddings' major contribution were miniatures. It was also the first Bond film to use computer generated imagery.

Among the model effects are most external shots of Severnaya, the scene where Janus' train crashes in to the tank, and the lake which hides the satellite dish, since the producers couldn't find a round lake in Puerto Rico. The climax in the satellite dish used scenes in Arecibo, a model built by Meddings' team and scenes shot with stuntmen in England.

Stunt car coordinator Rémy Julienne described the car chase between the Aston Martin DB5 and the Ferrari F355 as between "a perfectly shaped, old and vulnerable vehicle and a racecar." The stunt had to be meticulously planned as the cars are vastly different. Nails had to be attached to the F355 tires to make it skid, and during one take of the sliding vehicles, both cars collided.

The largest stunt sequence in the film was the tank chase, which took around six weeks to film, partly on location in St. Petersburg and partly at Leavesden. A Russian T-55 tank, on loan from the East England Military Museum, was modified with the addition of fake explosive reactive armor panels. It was chronologically equivalent to a modern upgraded T-55 equipping the Russian Army Reserve of the period, such as the T-55M5. In order to avoid destroying the pavement on the city streets of St. Petersburg, the steel off-road tracks of the T-55 were replaced with the rubber-shoed tracks from a British Chieftain tank. A rectangular viewport was cut in the glacis plate and covered with tinted Perspex, allowing a trained driver to maneuver the tank from a prone position inside the driver's compartment while Pierce Brosnan sat in the (modified) driver's seat with his head protruding from the driver's hatch, creating the illusion he was driving the tank "unbuttoned". The filming at Leavesden also called for the destruction of a number of Lada cars, so many that the production company were unable to provide all of them and were reduced to flagging down vehicles in the vicinity of their offices and offering the owners cash for their vehicles so that they may be used in filming.

For the confrontation between Bond and Trevelyan inside the antenna cradle, director Campbell decided to take inspiration in Bond's fight with Red Grant in From Russia with Love. Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean did all the stunts themselves, except for one take where one is thrown against the wall. Brosnan injured his hand while filming the part in the extending ladder, making producers delay his scenes and film the ones in Severnaya earlier.

The opening 220 m (720 ft) bungee jump at Archangel, shot at the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland and performed by Wayne Michaels, was voted the best movie stunt of all time in a 2002 Sky Movies poll, and set a record for the highest bungee jump off a fixed structure.

The fall of communism in Russia is the main focus of the opening titles, designed by Daniel Kleinman (who took over from Maurice Binder after his death in 1991). They show the collapse and destruction of several structures associated with the Soviet Union, such as the red star and hammer and sickle. In an interview, Kleinman said they were meant to be "a kind of story telling sequence" showing that "what was happening in Communist countries was Communism was falling down". According to producer Michael G. Wilson, some Communist parties protested against "Socialist symbols being destroyed not by governments, but by bikini-clad women", especially the Indian one, which threatened to boycott the film.

The theme song, "GoldenEye", was written by Bono and The Edge, and was performed by Tina Turner. As the producers did not collaborate with Bono or The Edge, alternate versions of the song did not appear throughout GoldenEye, as was the case in previous James Bond films.

Later, John Altman provided the music for the tank chase in St. Petersburg. Serra's original track for that sequence can still be found on the soundtrack as "A Pleasant Drive In St. Petersburg". Serra composed and performed a number of synthesizer tracks, including the version of the James Bond Theme that plays during the gun barrel sequence, while John Altman and David Arch provided the more traditional symphonic music.

GoldenEye premiered on November 13, 1995, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and went on general release in the USA on November 17, 1995. The UK premiere, attended by Prince Charles, followed on November 22 at the Odeon Leicester Square, with general release two days later. Brosnan boycotted the French premiere to support Greenpeace's protest against the French nuclear testing program, causing the premiere to be abrogated. The film was later released in a further 31 countries, under three alternate titles.

The film earned over $26 million during its opening across 2,667 theaters in the USA. Its worldwide sales were around $350 million. It had the fourth highest worldwide gross of all films in 1995 and, was the most successful Bond film since Moonraker, taking inflation into account.

GoldenEye was edited in order to be guaranteed a PG-13 rating from the MPAA and a 12 rating from the BBFC. The cuts included the visible bullet impact to Trevelyan's head when he is shot in the prologue, several additional deaths during the sequence in which Onatopp guns down the workers at the Severnaya station, more explicit footage and violent behaviour in the Admiral's death, extra footage of Onatopp's death, and Bond giving her a rabbit punch in the car. In 2006, the film was remastered and re-edited for the James Bond Ultimate Edition DVD in which some of the BBFC cuts -- including headbutts and violent sound effects -- were restored, causing the rating to be changed to 15. However, the original MPAA edits still remain.

Several reviewers lauded M's appraisal of Bond as a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur", with Todd McCarthy in Variety saying GoldenEye "breathes fresh creative and commercial life" into the series. John Puccio of DVD Town said that GoldenEye was "an eye and ear-pleasing, action-packed entry in the Bond series" and that the film gave Bond "a bit of humanity, too". Ian Nathan of Empire said that GoldenEye "revamps that indomitable British spirit" and that the Die Hard movies "don't even come close to 007". Tom Sonne of the Sunday Times considered GoldenEye the best Bond film since The Spy Who Loved Me. Jose Arroyo of Sight & Sound considered the greatest success of the film in modernising the series.

GoldenEye was also ranked high in Bond-related lists. IGN chose it as the fifth best movie, while Entertainment Weekly ranked it 8th, and Norman Wilner of MSN as 9th. ET also voted Xenia Onatopp as the 6th most memorable Bond Girl, while IGN ranked Natalya as 7th in a similar list.

GoldenEye was nominated for two BAFTAs, Best Sound and Special Effects. Éric Serra won a BMI Film Award for the soundtrack and the film also earned nominations for Best Action Film and Actor at the Saturn Awards and Best Fight Scene at the MTV Movie Awards.

GoldenEye was the second and final Bond film to be adapted to a novel by novelist John Gardner. The book closely follows the film's storyline, but Gardner added a violent sequence prior to the opening bungee jump in which Bond kills a group of Russian guards, a change that the video game GoldenEye 007 retained.

In late 1995, Topps Comics began publishing a three-issue comic book adaptation of GoldenEye. The script was adapted by Don McGregor with art by Rick Magyar. The first issue carried a January 1996 cover date. For unknown reasons, Topps cancelled the entire adaptation after the first issue had been published, and to date the adaptation has never been released in its entirety.

The film was the basis for GoldenEye 007, a successful video game for the Nintendo 64 developed by Rare and published by Nintendo. In January 2000, readers of the British video game magazine Computer and Video Games listed GoldenEye 007 in first place in a list of "the hundred greatest video games". In Edge's 10th anniversary issue in 2003, the game was included as one of their top ten shooters of all time, and in 2005, a "Best Games of All-Time" poll at GameFAQs placed it at 7th. It is based upon the film, but many of the missions were extended or modified.

GoldenEye 007 was modified into a racing game intended to be released for the Virtual Boy console. However, the game was cancelled before release. GoldenEye: Source is a fan made total conversion mod using the Source engine and based on GoldenEye 007. In January of 2007, it was awarded twice in the 2006 annual Moddb awards, for the Editor's Choice award in the Reinvention category and was player-voted 3rd place in the overall category Mod of the year. In 2004, Electronic Arts released GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, the first game of the James Bond series in which the player does not take on the role of Bond. Instead, the protagonist is an aspiring Double-0 agent Jonathan Hunter, known by his codename "GoldenEye" recruited by a villain of the Bond universe, Auric Goldfinger. Except for the appearance of Xenia Onatopp, the game was unrelated to the film, and was released to mediocre reviews. It was excoriated by several critics including Eric Qualls for using the name "GoldenEye" as an attempt to ride on the success of Rare's game.

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London region shown within the United Kingdom.

London ( pronunciation (help·info); IPA: /ˈlʌndən/) is the capital of both England and the United Kingdom, and the largest metropolitan area in the European Union. An important settlement for two millennia, London's history goes back to its founding by the Romans. Since its foundation, London has been part of many movements and phenomena throughout history, including the English Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the Gothic Revival. The city's core, the ancient City of London, still retains its limited medieval boundaries; but since at least the 19th century, the name "London" has also referred to the whole metropolis that has developed around it. Today the bulk of this conurbation forms the London region of England and the Greater London administrative area, with its own elected mayor and assembly.

Greater London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; the historic settlement of Greenwich; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; and the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church.

London's population draws from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, and over 300 languages are spoken within the city. As of July 2007, it had an official population of 7,556,900 within the boundaries of Greater London making it the most populous municipality in the European Union, with a population more than double that of its nearest rival. As of 2001, the Greater London Urban Area is the second largest in the EU after Paris with a population of 8 278 251 and the metropolitan area is estimated to have a total population of just under 14 million, the largest metropolitan area in the EU. The public transport network, administered by Transport for London, is one of the most extensive in the world, Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic and the air space is the busiest of any city in the world.

The etymology of London remains a mystery. The earliest etymological explanation can be attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae. The name is described as originating from King Lud, who had allegedly taken over the city and named it Kaerlud. This was slurred into Kaerludein and finally London. Many other theories have been advanced over the centuries, most of them deriving the name from Welsh or British, and occasionally from Anglo-Saxon or even Hebrew.

Although there is evidence of scattered Brythonic settlements in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romans in AD 43 as Londinium, following the Roman conquest of Britain. This Londinium lasted for just seventeen years. Around 61, the Iceni tribe led by Queen Boudica stormed this first London, burning it to the ground. The next, heavily planned incarnation of the city prospered and superseded Colchester as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100. At its height in the 2nd century, Roman London had a population of around 60,000.

By the 600s, the Anglo-Saxons had created a new settlement called Lundenwic approximately 1,000 yards (0.91 km) upstream from the old Roman city, around what is now Covent Garden. It is likely that there was a harbour at the mouth of the River Fleet for fishing and trading, and this trading grew until the city was overcome by the Vikings and forced to relocate the city back to the location of the Roman Londinium to use its walls for protection. Viking attacks continued to increase around the rest of South East England, until 886 when Alfred the Great recaptured London and made peace with the Danish leader, Guthrum. The original Saxon city of Lundenwic became Ealdwic ("old city"), a name surviving to the present day as Aldwych, which is in the modern City of Westminster.

In a retaliatory attack, Ethelred's army achieved victory by pulling down London Bridge with the Danish garrison on top, and English control was re-established. Canute took control of the English throne in 1017, controlling the city and country until 1042, when his death resulted in a reversion to Saxon control under his pious stepson Edward the Confessor, who re-founded Westminster Abbey and the adjacent Palace of Westminster. By this time, London had become the largest and most prosperous city in England, although the official seat of government was still at Winchester.

Following a victory at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror, the then Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England in the newly finished Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. William granted the citizens of London special privileges, while building what is now known as the Tower of London, in the south-east corner of the city, to keep them under control.

In 1097, William II began the building of Westminster Hall, close by the abbey of the same name. The hall became the basis of a new Palace of Westminster, the prime royal residence throughout the Middle Ages. Westminster became the seat of the royal court and government (persisting until the present day), while its distinct neighbour, the City of London, was a centre of trade and commerce and flourished under its own unique administration, the Corporation of London. London grew in wealth and population during the Middle Ages. In 1100 its population was around 18,000; by 1300 it had grown to nearly 100,000. King Edward I issued an edict in 1290, expelling all Jews from England. Before the edict, there was an increasing population of Jews, whereas after this time, the population of Jews began to drop considerably. Disaster struck during the Black Death in the mid-14th century, when London lost nearly a third of its population. Apart from the invasion of London during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, London remained relatively untouched by the various civil wars during the Middle Ages, such as the first and second Barons' Wars and the Wars of the Roses.

After the successful defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, political stability in England allowed London to grow further. In 1603, James VI of Scotland came to the throne of England, essentially uniting the two countries. His enactment of harsh anti-Catholic laws made him unpopular, and an assassination attempt was made on 5 November 1605—the well-known Gunpowder Plot.

Plague caused extensive problems for London in the early 17th century, culminating in the Great Plague in 1665–1666 that killed 70,000 to 100,000 people, up to a fifth of London's population. This was the last major outbreak in England, possibly thanks to the disastrous fire of 1666. The Great Fire of London broke out in the original City and quickly swept through London's wooden buildings, destroying large swathes of the city. A first hand narrative of both plague and fire was provided by Sir Samuel Pepys. Rebuilding took over ten years, largely under direction of a Commission appointed by King Charles II, chaired by Sir Christopher Wren, and supervised by Robert Hooke as newly appointed Surveyor of London.

Following London's growth in the 18th century, it became the world's largest city from about 1831 to 1925. Rising traffic congestion on city centre roads led to the creation of the world's first metro system — the London Underground — in 1863, driving further expansion and urbanisation. London's local government system struggled to cope with the rapid growth, especially in providing the city with adequate infrastructure. Between 1855 and 1889, the Metropolitan Board of Works oversaw infrastructure expansion. It was then replaced by the County of London, overseen by the London County Council, London's first elected city-wide administration.

The Blitz and other bombing by the German Luftwaffe during World War II killed over 30,000 Londoners and destroyed large tracts of housing and other buildings across London. In 1965 London's political boundaries were expanded to take into account the growth of the urban area outside the County of London's borders. The expanded area was called Greater London and was administered by the Greater London Council. An eco revival from the 1980s onwards re-established London's position as a pre-eminent international centre. However, as the seat of government and the most important city in the UK, it has been subjected to bouts of terrorism. Provisional Irish Republican Army bombers sought to pressure the government into negotiations over Northern Ireland, frequently disrupting city activities with bomb threats — some of which were carried out — until their 1997 cease-fire. More recently, a series of coordinated bomb attacks were carried out by Islamic extremist suicide bombers on the public transport network on 7 July 2005—just 24 hours after London was awarded the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The administration of London is formed of two tiers — a city-wide, strategic tier and a local tier. City-wide administration is coordinated by the Greater London Authority (GLA), while local administration is carried out by 33 smaller authorities. The GLA consists of two elected parts; the Mayor of London, who has executive powers, and the London Assembly, who scrutinise the Mayor's decisions and can accept or reject his budget proposals each year. The GLA was set up in 2000 to replace the similar Greater London Council (GLC) which had been abolished in 1986. The headquarters of the GLA and the Mayor of London is at City Hall; the Mayor is Boris Johnson. The 33 local authorities are the councils of the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. They are responsible for local services not overseen by the GLA, such as local planning, schools, social services, local roads and refuse collection.

London is the home of the Government of the United Kingdom which is located around the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Many government departments are located close to Parliament, particularly along Whitehall, including the Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Street. The British Parliament is often referred to as the "Mother of Parliaments" (although this sobriquet was first applied to England itself by John Bright) because it has been the model for most other parliamentary systems, and its Acts have created many other parliaments.

London can be geographically defined in a number of ways; the situation was once open to periodic legal debate. At London's core is the small, ancient City of London which is commonly known as 'the City' or 'the Square Mile'. London's metropolitan area grew considerably during the Victorian era and again during the Interwar period, but expansion halted in the 1940s because of World War II and Green Belt legislation, and the area has been largely static since. The London region of England, also commonly known as Greater London, is the area administered by the Greater London Authority. The urban sprawl of the conurbation — or Greater London Urban Area — covers a roughly similar area, with a slightly larger population. Beyond this is the vast London commuter belt.

Forty percent of Greater London is covered by the London postal district, within which 'LONDON' forms part of the postal address. The London telephone area code covers a larger area, similar in size to Greater London, although some outer districts are omitted and some places just outside are included. The area within the orbital M25 motorway is sometimes used to define the "London area" and the Greater London boundary has been aligned to it in places. Greater London is split for some purposes into Inner London and Outer London. Informally, the city is split into North, South, East, West and often also Central London.

The Metropolitan Police District, city-wide local government area and London transport area have varied over time, but broadly coincide with the Greater London boundary. The Romans may have marked the centre of Londinium with the London Stone, still visible on Cannon Street. The coordinates of the nominal centre of London (traditionally considered to be the original Eleanor Cross at Charing Cross, near the junction of Trafalgar Square and Whitehall) are approximately 51°30′29″N 00°07′29″W / 51.50806°N 0.12472°W / 51.50806; -0.12472. Trafalgar Square has also become a point for celebrations and protests.

Within London, both the City of London and the City of Westminster have City status and both the City of London and the remainder of Greater London are the ceremonial counties. The current area of Greater London was historically part of the counties of Middlesex, Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire. Unlike most capital cities, London's status as the capital of the UK has never been granted or confirmed officially — by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the UK's unwritten constitution. The capital of England was moved to London from Winchester as the Palace of Westminster developed in the 12th and 13th centuries to become the permanent location of the royal court, and thus the political capital of the nation. According to the Collins English Dictionary definition of 'the seat of government,' London is not the capital of England, as England does not have its own government. However according to the Oxford English Reference dictionary definition of 'the most important town...' and many other authorities, London is the capital of England.

Greater London covers an area of 607 square miles (1,570 km2). Its primary geographical feature is the Thames, a navigable river which crosses the city from the south-west to the east. The Thames Valley is a floodplain surrounded by gently rolling hills including Parliament Hill, Addington Hills, and Primrose Hill. The Thames was once a much broader, shallower river with extensive marshlands; at high tide, its shores reached five times their present width. Since the Victorian era it has been extensively embanked, and many of its London tributaries now flow underground. The Thames is a tidal river, and London is vulnerable to flooding. The threat has increased over time due to a slow but continuous rise in high water level by the slow 'tilting' of Britain (up in the north and down in the south) caused by post-glacial rebound. In 1974, a decade of work began on the construction of the Thames Barrier across the Thames at Woolwich to deal with this threat. While the barrier is expected to function as designed until roughly 2030, concepts for its future enlargement or redesign are already being discussed.

London has regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year, with average precipitation of 583.6 millimetres (22.98 in) every year. Snow is relatively uncommon, particularly because heat from the urban area can make London up to 5 °C (9 °F) warmer than the surrounding areas in winter. Some snowfall, however, is usually seen up to a few times a year. London is in USDA Hardiness zone 9, and AHS Heat Zone 2.

In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, London was noted for its dense fogs and smogs. Following the deadly Great Smog of 1952, the Clean Air Act 1956 was passed, leading to the decline of such severe pollution in the capital.

London's vast urban area is often described using a set of district names (e.g. Bloomsbury, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Whitechapel, Fitzrovia). These are either informal designations, or reflect the names of superseded villages, parishes and city wards. Such names have remained in use through tradition, each referring to a local area with its own distinctive character, but often with no modern official boundaries. However, since 1965 Greater London has been divided into 32 London boroughs in addition to the ancient City of London.

The City of London is one of the world's three largest financial centres (alongside New York and Tokyo) with a dominant role in several international financial markets, including cross-border bank lending, international bond issuance and trading, foreign-exchange trading, over-the-counter derivatives, fund management and foreign equities trading. It also has the world's largest insurance market, the leading exchange for dealing in non-precious metals, the largest spot gold and gold lending markets, the largest ship broking market, and more foreign banks and investment houses than any other centre. The City has its own governance and boundaries, giving it a status as the only completely autonomous local authority in London. London's new financial and commercial hub is the Docklands area to the east of the City, dominated by the Canary Wharf complex. Other businesses locate in the City of Westminster, the home of the UK's national government and the well-known Westminster Abbey.

The West End is London's main entertainment and shopping district, with locations such as Oxford Street, Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus acting as tourist magnets. The West London area is known for fashionable and expensive residential areas such as Notting Hill, Knightsbridge and Chelsea — where properties can sell for tens of millions of pounds. The average price for all properties in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is £894,000 with similar average outlay in most of Central London.

The eastern region of London contains the East End and East London. The East End is the area closest to the original Port of London, known for its high immigrant population, as well as for being one of the poorest areas in London. The surrounding East London area saw much of London's early industrial development; now, brownfield sites throughout the area are being redeveloped as part of the Thames Gateway including the London Riverside and Lower Lea Valley, which is being developed into the Olympic Park for the 2012 Olympics.

Wembley is a district in north-west London in Travelcard Zone 4. Wembley has attractions including Wembley Stadium, Wembley Arena, Arena Square, Wembley Sunday Market (the largest Sunday market in the UK), Wembley Triangle, the beautiful Wembley Central and Wembley Park.

With increasing industrialisation, London's population grew rapidly throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it was for some time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the most populous city in the world until overtaken by New York in 1925. Its population peaked at 8,615,245 in 1939 immediately before the outbreak of World War 2. There were an estimated 7,556,900 official residents in Greater London as of mid-2007. However, London's continuous urban area extends beyond the borders of Greater London and was home to 8,278,251 people in 2001, while its wider metropolitan area has a population of between 12 and 14 million depending on the definition used. According to Eurostat, London is the most populous city and metropolitan area of the European Union and the second most populous in Europe (or third if Istanbul is included).

The region covers an area of 609 square miles (1,580 km2). The population density is 12,331 inhabitants per square mile (4,761 /km²), more than ten times that of any other British region. In terms of population, London is the 25th largest city and the 17th largest metropolitan region in the world. It is also ranked 4th in the world in number of billionaires (United States Dollars) residing in the city. London ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world, alongside Tokyo and Moscow.

According to 2006 estimates, 58.0% of the 7.5 million inhabitants of London were classed as the indigenous White British, 2.5% were White Irish and 8.9% were classified as "Other White", the majority of whom are Greeks, Italians, Polish, and Germans. Some 13.1% of people are of South Asian descent, including Indian (mainly Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati), Pakistani (mostly Punjabi), Bangladeshi (mainly Sylheti) and "Other Asian" (mostly Sri Lankan (Tamil) and other Southern Asian ethnicities). 10.7% of people are Black (around 5% are Black African, 5% as Black Caribbean, 0.7% as "Other Black"). 3.5% are of mixed race; 1.5% are Chinese; and 1.5% of people belong to another ethnic group. 30% of inhabitants were born outside the European Union. The Irish born, from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, number approximately 250,000 and are the largest group born outside of Britain.

In January 2005, a survey of London's ethnic and religious diversity claimed that there were more than 300 languages spoken and more than 50 non-indigenous communities which have a population of more than 10,000 in London. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, as of 2006, London's foreign-born population is 2,288,000 (31%), up from 1,630,000 in 1997. The 2001 census showed that 27.1% of Greater London's population were born outside the UK, and a slightly higher proportion were classed as non-white. As of 2008, 40% of London's total population was from an ethnic minority group. Across London, Black and Asian children outnumber White British children by about three to two.

The table to the right shows the 'Country of Birth' of London residents in 2001, the date of the last UK Census. (Top 21). Note that a portion of the German-born population are likely to be British nationals born to parents serving in the British armed forces in Germany.

The majority of Londoners - 58.2% - identify themselves as Christians. This is followed by those of no religion (15.8%), Muslims (8.5%), Hindus (4.1%), Jews (2.1%), Sikhs (1.5%), Buddhists (0.8%) and other (0.5%), though 8.7% of people did not answer this question in the 2001 Census.

London has traditionally been dominated by Christianity, and has a large number of churches, particularly in the City of London. The well-known St Paul's Cathedral in the City and Southwark Cathedral south of the river are Anglican administrative centres, while the Archbishop of Canterbury, principal bishop of the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Communion, has his main residence at Lambeth Palace in the London Borough of Lambeth. Important national and royal ceremonies are shared between St Paul's and Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is not to be confused with nearby Westminster Cathedral, which is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in England and Wales. Religious practice is lower in London than any other part of the UK or Western Europe and is around seven times lower than American averages. Despite the prevalence of Anglican churches, observance is very low within the Anglican denomination, although church attendance, particularly at evangelical Anglican churches in London, has started to increase.

London is also home to sizeable Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish communities. Many Muslims live in Tower Hamlets and Newham; the most important Muslim edifice is London Central Mosque on the edge of Regent's Park. London's large Hindu community is found in the north-western boroughs of Harrow and Brent, the latter of which is home to one of Europe's largest Hindu temples, Neasden Temple. Sikh communities are located in East and West London, which is also home to the largest Sikh temple in the world, outside India. The majority of British Jews live in London, with significant Jewish communities in Stamford Hill, Stanmore, Golders Green, Hendon, and Edgware in North London. Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue has the largest membership of any single Orthodox synagogue in the whole of Europe, overtaking Ilford synagogue (also in London) in 1998. The community set up the London Jewish Forum in 2007 in response to the growing significance of devolved London Government.

London is a major centre for international business and commerce and is one of three "command centres" for the world economy (with New York City and Tokyo). According to 2005 estimates by the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm, London has the 6th largest city economy in the world after Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Paris. London generates approximately 20% of the UK's GDP (or $446 billion in 2005); while the economy of the London metropolitan area — the second largest in Europe — generates approximately 30% of the UK's GDP (or an estimated $669 billion in 2005).

London's success as a service industry and business centre can be attributed to factors such as English being the native and dominant language of business, close relationship with the U.S. and various countries in Asia. Other factors include English law being the most important and most used contract law in international business and the multi-cultural infrastructure. Government policies such as low taxes, particularly for foreigners (non-UK domiciled residents do not get taxed on their foreign earnings), a business friendly environment, good transport infrastructure and a deregulated economy with little intervention by the government have all contributed to London's economy becoming more service based. Over 85% (3.2 million) of the employed population of Greater London works in service industries. Another half a million employees resident in Greater London work in manufacturing and construction, almost equally divided between both.

London's largest industry remains finance, and its financial exports make it a large contributor to the UK's balance of payments. Around 325,000 people were employed in financial services in London until mid-2007 . London has over 480 overseas banks, more than any other city in the world. London is home to banks, brokers, insurers and legal and accounting firms. A second, smaller financial district is developing at Canary Wharf to the east of the city which includes the global headquarters of HSBC, Reuters, Barclays and the Magic Circle, which includes Clifford Chance, the largest law firm in the world. London handled 31% of global currency transactions in 2005 — an average daily turnover of US$753 billion — with more US dollars traded in London than New York, and more euros traded than in every other city in Europe combined.

More than half of the UK's top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and over 100 of Europe's 500 largest companies are headquartered in central London. Over 70% of the FTSE 100 are located within London's metropolitan area, and 75% of Fortune 500 companies have offices in London. Along with professional services, media companies are concentrated in London (see Media in London) and the media distribution industry is London's second most competitive sector (after central banking, the most competitive sector). The BBC is a key employer, while other broadcasters also have headquarters around the city. Many national newspapers are edited in London, having traditionally been associated with Fleet Street in the city; they are now primarily based around Canary Wharf.

Science and research and development are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the economy of modern London with 1,340 million euros of public funding, 25 research institutes and medical schools and 23 National Health Service hospitals. Currently, the city boasts 175,000 health-care professionals, 6,000 scientists specialised in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology and, yearly, 80,000 medical and science students studying at universities and colleges. London's private concerns conducting scientific research, as many as 100 in the life science sector alone in 2008, are growing in number twice as fast as in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Due to its prominent global role, London is getting hit harder than any other financial centre by the global financial crisis of 2008–2009. The City of London estimates that 70,000 jobs in finance will be cut within barely a year. Several foreign banks have started to move off employees from London to their national financial centres, notably Dresdner Kleinwort, BNP Paribas and Santander. Other banks, including UBS, Credit Suisse, Bank of America and Citigroup are primarily cutting their workforce in London.

Tourism is one of London's prime industries and employs the equivalent of 350,000 full-time workers in London in 2003, while annual expenditure by tourists is around £15 billion. A study carried out by Euromonitor in October 2007 places London at first place out of 150 of the world's most popular cities, attracting 15.6 million international tourists in 2006. This puts London far ahead of 2nd place Bangkok (10.35 million) and 3rd place Paris (just 9.7 million). London attracts 27 million overnight-stay visitors every year. The Port of London is currently the third-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 50 million tonnes of cargo each year.

London is too diverse to be characterised by any particular architectural style, having accumulated its buildings over a long period of time and drawn on a wide range of influences. It is, however, mainly brick built, most commonly the yellow London stock brick or a warm orange-red variety, often decorated with carvings and white plaster mouldings. Many grand houses and public buildings (such as the National Gallery) are constructed from Portland stone. Some areas of the city, particularly those just west of the centre, are characterised by white stucco or whitewashed buildings. Few structures pre-date the Great Fire of 1666, except for a few trace Roman remains, the Tower of London and a few scattered Tudor survivors in the City. The disused (but soon to be rejuvenated) 1939 Battersea Power Station by the river in the south-west is a local landmark, while some railway termini are excellent examples of Victorian architecture, most notably St Pancras and Paddington (at least internally).

The density of London varies, with high employment density in the central area, high residential densities in inner London and lower densities in the suburbs. In the dense areas, most of the concentration is achieved with medium- and high-rise buildings. London's skyscrapers such as the notable "Gherkin", Tower 42, the Broadgate Tower and One Canada Square are usually found in the two financial districts, the City of London and Canary Wharf. Other notable modern buildings include City Hall in Southwark with its distinctive oval shape, and the British Library in Somers Town/Kings Cross. What was formerly the Millennium Dome, located by the Thames to the east of Canary Wharf, is now used as an entertainment venue known as The O2.

The development of tall buildings has been encouraged in the London Plan, which will lead to the erection of many new skyscrapers over the next decade, particularly in the City of London and Canary Wharf. The 72-storey, 1,017 feet (310 m) "Shard London Bridge" by London Bridge station, the 945 feet (288 m) Bishopsgate Tower and many other skyscrapers over 500 feet (150 m) are either proposed or approved and could transform the city's skyline. As of July 2008, there are 426 high-rise buildings (between 23 m to 150 m/75 ft to 491 ft) under construction, approved for construction, and proposed for construction in London.

A great many monuments pay homage to people and events in the city. The Monument in the City of London provides views of the surrounding area while commemorating the Great Fire of London, which originated nearby. Marble Arch and Wellington Arch, at the north and south ends of Park Lane respectively, have royal connections, as do the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. Nelson's Column is a nationally recognised monument in Trafalgar Square, one of the focal points of the centre.

The largest parks in the central area of London are the Royal Parks of Hyde Park and its neighbour Kensington Gardens at the western edge of central London and Regent's Park on the northern edge. This park contains London Zoo, the world's oldest scientific zoo, and is located near the tourist attraction of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Closer to central London are the smaller Royal Parks of Green Park and St. James's Park. Hyde Park in particular is popular for sports and sometimes hosts open-air concerts.

A number of large parks lie outside the city centre, including the remaining Royal Parks of Greenwich Park to the south-east and Bushy Park and Richmond Park to the south-west, as well as Victoria Park, East London to the east. Primrose Hill to the north of Regent's Park is a popular spot to view the city skyline. Some more informal, semi-natural open spaces also exist, including the 791-acre (3.2 km2) Hampstead Heath of North London. This incorporates Kenwood House, the former stately home and a popular location in the summer months where classical musical concerts are held by the lake, attracting thousands of people every weekend to enjoy the music, scenery and fireworks.

Traditionally the London accent has been given the famous Cockney label, and was similar to many accents of the South East of England, developing a unique form of slang known as Cockney Rhyming Slang. The accent of a 21st century Londoner varies widely; what is becoming more and more common amongst the under 30s however is some fusion of Cockney, Received Pronunciation, and a whole array of 'ethnic' accents, in particular Caribbean, which form an accent labelled Multicultural London English (MLE), with a large amount of slang in use as well.

Within the City of Westminster, the entertainment district of the West End has its focus around Leicester Square, where London and world film premieres are held, and Piccadilly Circus, with its giant electronic advertisements. London's theatre district is here, as are many cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the city's Chinatown district, and just to the east is Covent Garden, an area housing speciality shops. The United Kingdom's Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Royal Opera and English National Opera are based in London and perform at the Royal Opera House, The London Coliseum, Sadler's Wells Theatre and the Royal Albert Hall as well as touring the country. Islington's 1 mile (1.6 km) long Upper Street, extending Northwards from The Angel, has more bars and restaurants than any other street in the UK. Europe's busiest shopping area is Oxford Street, a shopping street nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) long — which makes it the longest shopping street in the world — and home to many shops and department stores including Selfridges. Knightsbridge — home to the Harrods department store — lies just to the southwest. London is home to designers Vivienne Westwood, Galliano, Stella McCartney, Manolo Blahnik, and Jimmy Choo among others; its renowned art and fashion schools make it an international centre of fashion alongside Paris, Milan and New York.

London offers a great variety of cuisine as a result of its ethnically diverse population. Gastronomic centres include the Bangladeshi restaurants of Brick Lane and the Chinese food restaurants of Chinatown.

There are a variety of regular annual events in the city. The beginning of the year is celebrated with the relatively new New Year's Day Parade, while traditional parades include November's Lord Mayor's Show, a centuries-old event celebrating the annual appointment of a new Lord Mayor of the City of London with a procession along the streets of the City, and June's Trooping the Colour, a formal military pageant performed by regiments of the Commonwealth and British armies to celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday.

London has been the setting for many works of literature. Two writers closely associated with the city are the diarist Samuel Pepys, noted for his eyewitness account of the Great Fire, and Charles Dickens, whose representation of a foggy, snowy, grimy London of street sweepers and pickpockets has been a major influence on people's vision of early Victorian London. The earlier (1722) A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe is a fictionalisation of the events of the 1665 Great Plague. William Shakespeare spent a large part of his life living and working in London; his contemporary Ben Jonson was also based in London, and some of his work — most notably his play The Alchemist — was set in the state. Later important depictions of London from the 19th and early 20th centuries are the afore-mentioned Dickens novels, and Arthur Conan Doyle's illustrious Sherlock Holmes stories. A modern writer pervasively influenced by the city is Peter Ackroyd, in works such as London: The Biography, The Lambs of London and Hawksmoor.

London has played a significant role in the film industry, and has major studios at Pinewood, Ealing, Shepperton, Elstree and Leavesden, as well as an important special effects and post-production community centred in Soho in central London. Working Title Films has its headquarters in London. The city also hosts a number of performing arts schools, including The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), the Central School of Speech and Drama (alumni: Judi Dench and Laurence Olivier) and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (alumni: Jim Broadbent). The London Film Festival is held each year in October.

London is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions which are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role. The Natural History Museum (biology and geology), Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum (fashion and design) are clustered in South Kensington's "museum quarter", while the British Museum houses historic artefacts from around the world. The British Library at St Pancras is the UK's national library, housing 150 million items. The city also houses extensive art collections, primarily in the National Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

London is one of the major classical and popular music capitals of the world and is home to major music corporations, such as EMI and Decca Records, as well as countless bands, musicians and industry professionals. London is home to many orchestras and concert halls such as the Barbican Arts Centre (principal base of the London Symphony Orchestra), Cadogan Hall (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) and the Royal Albert Hall (BBC Promenade Concerts). London's two main opera houses are the Royal Opera House and the Coliseum Theatre.

Several conservatoires are located within the city: Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Trinity College of Music.

London has numerous renowned venues for rock and pop concerts, including large arenas such as Earls Court, Wembley Arena and the O2 Arena, as well as numerous mid-size venues, such as Brixton Academy, Hammersmith Apollo and The London Astoria. London also hosts many music festivals, including the O2 Wireless Festival.

London is home to the first and original Hard Rock Cafe and the illustrious Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles created many of their hits. Musicians such as Bob Marley, Madonna, Jimi Hendrix and Freddie Mercury have lived in London. A large number of musical artists originate from or are most strongly associated with London, including Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie, Ian Dury, The Kinks, Adam Faith, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Madness, The Jam, Blur, Iron Maiden, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, Dusty Springfield, The Yardbirds and The Small Faces. London was instrumental in the development of punk music, with figures such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Vivienne Westwood all based in the city.

More recent artists to emerge from the London music scene include The Libertines, one of the most influential British rock acts of the 2000s, Bloc Party, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Lily Allen, McFly, The Kooks, Razorlight, Adele, Laura Marling, Dizzee Rascal, and Natasha Bedingfield.

London is also a centre for Urban music. In particular the genres UK Garage, Drum and Bass, dubstep and Grime evolved in the city from the foreign genres of hiphop and reggae, alongside local rave music. Black music station BBC 1Xtra was set up to support the rise of homegrown urban music both in London and the rest of the UK.

London has hosted the Summer Olympics twice, in 1908 and 1948. In July 2005 London was chosen to host the Games in 2012, which will make it the first city in the world to host the Summer Olympics three times. London was also the host of the British Empire Games in 1934.

London's most popular sport (for both participants and spectators) is football. London has thirteen League football clubs, including five in the Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. London also has four rugby union teams in the Guinness Premiership (London Irish, Saracens, Wasps and Harlequins), although only the Harlequins play in London (all the other three now play outside Greater London, although Saracens still play within the M25). There are two professional rugby league clubs in London - Harlequins Rugby League who play in the Super League at the Stoop and the National League 2 side the London Skolars (based in Haringey).

Since 1924, the original Wembley Stadium was the home of the English national football team, and served as the venue for the FA Cup final as well as rugby league's Challenge Cup final. The new Wembley Stadium serves exactly the same purposes and has a capacity of 90,000. Twickenham Stadium in west London is the national rugby union stadium, and has a capacity of 84,000 now that the new south stand has been completed.

Cricket in London centres on its two Test cricket grounds at Lord's (home of Middlesex C.C.C) in St John's Wood, and The Oval (home of Surrey C.C.C) in Kennington. One of London's best-known annual sports competitions is the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, held at the All England Club in the south-western suburb of Wimbledon. Other key events are the annual mass-participation London Marathon which sees some 35,000 runners attempt a 26.2 miles (42.2 km) course around the city, and the Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames between Putney and Mortlake.

Transport is one of the four areas of policy administered by the Mayor of London, however the mayor's financial control is limited and he does not control the heavy rail network, although in November 2007 he assumed responsibility for the North London Railway as well as several other lines, to form London Overground. The public transport network, administered by Transport for London (TfL), is one of the most extensive in the world, but faces congestion and reliability issues, which a large investment programme is attempting to address, including £7 billion (€10 billion) of improvements planned for the Olympics. London has been commended as the city with the best public transport. Cycling is an increasingly popular way to get around London. The London Cycling Campaign lobbies for better provision.

The centrepiece of the public transport network is the London Underground — commonly referred to as The Tube — which has eleven interconnecting lines. It is the oldest, longest, and most expansive metro system in the world, dating from 1863. The system was home to the world's first underground electric line, the City & South London Railway, which began service in 1890. Over three million journeys a day are made on the Underground network, nearly 1 billion journeys each year. The Underground serves the central area and most suburbs to the north of the Thames, while those to the south are served by an extensive suburban rail surface network, due partly to more difficult geology south of the river.

The Docklands Light Railway is a second metro system using smaller and lighter trains, which opened in 1987, serving East London and Greenwich on both sides of the Thames. Commuter and intercity railways generally do not cross the city, instead running into fourteen terminal stations scattered around its historic centre; the exception is the Thameslink route operated by First Capital Connect, with terminus stations at Bedford, Brighton and Moorgate. Since the early 1990s, increasing pressures on the commuter rail and Underground networks have led to increasing demands — particularly from businesses and the City of London Corporation — for Crossrail: a £10 billion east – west heavy rail connection under central London, which was given the green light in early October 2007.

High-speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International with Lille and Paris in France, and Brussels in Belgium. Journey times to Paris and Brussels of 2h 15 and 1h 51 respectively make London closer to continental Europe than the rest of Britain by virtue of the newly completed High Speed 1 rail link to the Channel Tunnel. From 2009 this line will also allow for high speed domestic travel from Kent into London. The redevelopment of St. Pancras was key to London's Olympic bid, as the station also serves two international airports through Thameslink, and will also provide direct rail links to the Olympic site at Stratford using British Rail Class 395 trains running under the Olympic Javelin name; these will be based on Japanese Shinkansen high-speed trains.

London's bus network is one of the largest in the world, running 24 hours a day, with 8,000 buses, 700 bus routes, and over 6 million passenger journeys made every weekday. In 2003, the network's ridership was estimated at over 1.5 billion passenger trips per annum, more than the Underground. Around £850 m is taken in revenue each year.

London has the largest wheelchair accessible network in the world and, from the 3rd quarter of 2007, became more accessible to hearing and visually impaired passengers as audio-visual announcements were introduced. The distinctive red double-decker buses are internationally recognised, and are a trademark of London transport along with black cabs and the Tube.

London is a major international air transport hub with the largest city airspace in the world. Eight airports use the words London Airport in their name, but most traffic passes through one of five major airports. London Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic, and is the major hub of the nation's flag carrier, British Airways. In March 2008 its fifth terminal was opened, and plans are already being considered for a sixth terminal. Similar traffic, with the addition of some low-cost short-haul flights, is also handled at London Gatwick Airport. London Stansted Airport the main hub for Ryanair, and London Luton Airport cater mostly for low-cost short-haul flights. London City Airport, the smallest and most central airport, is focused on business travellers, with a mixture of full service short-haul scheduled flights and considerable business jet traffic. London Southend Airport is developing new service in 2009 in addition to existing business aviation and cargo services. There has been continued controversy over expanding capacity such as building a third runway at Heathrow and building a new airport.

Although the majority of journeys involving central London are made by public transport, travel in outer London is car-dominated. The inner ring road (around the city centre), the North and South Circular roads (in the suburbs), and the outer orbital motorway (the M25, outside the built-up area) encircle the city and are intersected by a number of busy radial routes — but very few motorways penetrate into inner London. The M25 is the longest ring-road motorway in the world at 121.5 miles (195.5 km) long. A plan for a comprehensive network of motorways throughout the city (the Ringways Plan) was prepared in the 1960s but was mostly cancelled in the early 1970s. In 2003, a congestion charge was introduced to reduce traffic volumes in the city centre. With a few exceptions, motorists are required to pay £8 per day to drive within a defined zone encompassing much of congested central London. Motorists who are residents of the defined zone can buy a vastly reduced season pass which is renewed monthly and is cheaper than a corresponding bus fare.

Home to a range of universities, colleges and schools, London has a student population of about 378,000 and is a centre of research and development. Most primary and secondary schools in London follow the same system as the rest of England — comprehensive schooling.

With 125,000 students, the University of London is the largest contact teaching university in the United Kingdom and in Europe. It comprises 20 colleges as well as several smaller institutes each with a high degree of autonomy. Constituent colleges have their own admissions procedures, and are effectively universities in their own right, although most degrees are awarded by the University of London rather than the individual colleges. Its constituents include multi-disciplinary colleges such as UCL, King's, Goldsmiths, Queen Mary and more specialised institutions such as the London School of Economics, SOAS, the Royal Academy of Music, the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Institute of Education.

Imperial College London and University College London have been ranked among the top ten universities in the world by The Times Higher Education Supplement: in 2008 Imperial was ranked the 6th best and UCL the 7th best university in the world.

In addition, the London School of Economics is the world‘s leading social science institution for teaching and research, plus has the most international student body of any university in the world today.

A number of colleges are dedicated to the fine arts, including the Royal College of Music, Royal College of Art, and Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

London's other universities, such as Brunel University, City University, London Metropolitan University, Middlesex University, University of East London, University of the Arts London, University of Westminster, Kingston University and London South Bank University are not part of the University of London but are still leaders in their field and popular choices among students both nationally and internationally. Some were polytechnics until they were granted university status in 1992, and others which were founded much earlier. Imperial College London left the federal University of London in 2007. Since the merger of University of North London and London Guildhall University in 2003, London Metropolitan University is the largest unitary university in the capital, with over 34,000 students from 155 countries. London is also known globally for its business education, with the London Business School (ranked 1st in Europe — Business Week) and Cass Business School (Europe's largest finance school) both being top world-rated business schools. In addition there are three international universities: Schiller International University, Richmond University and Regent's College.

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A Fine Romance (TV series)

A Fine Romance is a British situation comedy starring husband-and-wife team Judi Dench and Michael Williams. Dench's sister was played by Susan Penhaligon. It was produced by London Weekend Television and written by Bob Larbey. It was first broadcast on 8 November 1981. It lasted for 26 episodes over four seasons; the final episode being broadcast on 17 February 1984.

The series was nominated for nine BAFTA British Academy Television Awards and a winner of two, both for Dench's performance in 1982 and 1985.

The series' theme song, a version of the song "A Fine Romance", was performed by Dench.

The series involves Laura Dalton, played by Dench, a single, middle-aged translator who is somewhat socially inept. Her sister Helen, played by Penhaligon, and her husband Phil (Richard Warwick) pair her up with Mike Selway (Williams), a shy landscape gardener. The story follows their awkward romance and insecurities. Bad luck seems to follow them everywhere, from the ferry to Calais to an attempted romantic evening watching television.

Laura constantly dwells on her beautiful sister's fairy-tale marriage while still retaining an attitude of a child, locking herself in cupboards when things do not go her way. Though immature and tending to fly off the handle, she assists Mike in organizing his struggling business, volunteering her time to type his correspondence and do the bookkeeping. Phil and Helen often regret ever bringing the two together, because they are nearly always involved in the couple's squabbles. Overall, however, Mike and Laura find they cannot live without one another, though they are not able to put it into words.

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Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Charles Branagh (born 10 December 1960) is an Emmy Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated actor and film director from Northern Ireland.

Branagh, the second of three children, was born and raised in Belfast to working-class Protestant parents Frances (née Harper) and William Branagh, who was a plumber and carpenter, and ran a company that specialised in fitting partitions and suspended ceilings. He was educated at Grove Primary School. At the age of nine, he relocated with his family to Reading, Berkshire to escape "the Troubles". At school, he affected an English accent to avoid bullying. On his identity today he has said, "I feel Irish. I don't think you can take Belfast out of the boy," and he attributes his "love of words" to his Irishness.

Branagh achieved some early measure of success in his native Northern Ireland for his role as the title character in the BBC's Play for Today series known as the Billy Plays, written by Graham Reid and set in Belfast. He has worked on both stage and screen.

He received acclaim in the UK for his stage performances, first winning the 1982 SWET Award for Best Newcomer, for his role as Judd in Julian Mitchell's Another Country, immediately after leaving RADA. He and David Parfitt founded the Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, following success with several productions on the London 'Fringe', including Branagh's full-scale production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lyric Studio, co-starring with Samantha Bond. The first major Renaissance production was Branagh's Christmas 1987 staging of Twelfth Night at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, starring Richard Briers as Malvolio and Frances Barber as Viola, and with an original score by Scottish actor, musician and composer Patrick Doyle, who two years later was to compose the music for Branagh's film adaptation of Henry V.

A year later in 1989 Branagh co-starred with Emma Thompson in the Renaissance revival of Look Back in Anger. Judi Dench directed both the theatre and television productions, presented first in Belfast then at the London Coliseum and Lyric Theatre.

More recently, in 2002, Branagh starred in the Crucible Theatre , Sheffield as Richard III and in 2003 in the Royal National Theatre's production of David Mamet's Edmond. Branagh directed The Play What I Wrote in England in 2001 and directed a Broadway production in 2003. From September to November 2008, Branagh appeared at the Wyndham's Theatre as the title character in the Donmar West End revival of Anton Chekhov's Ivanov in a new version by Tom Stoppard. His performance was lauded as the "performance of the year" by several critics. It won him the Critics' Circle Award for Best Male Performance but surprisingly did not get him a Laurence Olivier Award nomination.

Branagh is probably best known for his film adaptations of the works of William Shakespeare, beginning with Henry V in 1989, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, and Love's Labour's Lost, with As You Like It following in 2006. As You Like It premiered in theatres in Europe, but was sent directly to television in the U.S., where it had its U.S. premiere on HBO in August 2007. Although Branagh played Iago in the 1995 film adaptation of Othello, he did not direct the film; it was directed by Oliver Parker. Othello is the one Shakespeare film that Branagh has appeared in which was directed by someone else.

Notable non-Shakespeare films that Branagh has appeared in include Dead Again and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, both of which he also directed, Wild Wild West, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Valkyrie. The commercial failure of Love's Labour's Lost brought a halt to his directing career, but Branagh has returned to directing again in recent years, most recently with the thriller Sleuth.

Branagh has also been involved in several made-for-TV films. Among his most acclaimed portrayals is that of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 2005 film Warm Springs, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. Though the film received 16 Emmy nominations, winning five (including Best Made-For-Television Film), Branagh did not win the award for his portrayal. He did, however, receive an Emmy for his performance in the 2001 TV Conspiracy, a depiction of the Wannsee Conference, where Nazi officials conceived the Final Solution. Branagh portrayed SS leader Reinhard Heydrich.

Branagh filmed three feature-length adaptations of Henning Mankell's best-selling Wallander crime novels for the BBC in mid-2008. Branagh plays the eponymous Inspector Kurt Wallander and also serves as the executive producer of the series. The three films were broadcast on BBC 1 in November and December 2008.

At a recent press junket for Valkyrie, Branagh confirmed he is directing a film based on Marvel superhero Thor.

Branagh has narrated several audio books, such as The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis.

In 1989, Branagh authored an autobiography, which he entitled Beginning.

He was married to Emma Thompson from August 20, 1989 until 1995. For several years after divorcing Thompson he was in a well-publicized relationship with Helena Bonham Carter, with whom he also starred and directed in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In 2003 he married film art director Lindsay Brunnock, to whom he was introduced by Bonham Carter in 1997.

He speaks Italian and is a lifelong supporter of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. and Glasgow Rangers Football Club.

Branagh has been nominated for four Academy Awards. His first two nominations were for Henry V (one each for directing and acting). He also received similar BAFTA Award nominations, winning one for his direction. Branagh's two other Academy Award nominations were for the 1992 film short subject Swan Song and for his work on the screenplay of Hamlet in 1996. Branagh has co-starred several times with actress Emma Thompson, to whom he was married from 1989 to 1995. They appeared together in Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Dead Again, and Peter's Friends.

He is Honorary President of NICVA (the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.) He received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Queen's University of Belfast in 1990. He is also a patron for the charity Over The Wall.

In 1994, Branagh declined an appointment as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Branagh was the youngest actor to receive the Golden Quill (also known as the Gielgud Award) in 2000.

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Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet Palm Film Festival.jpg

Kate Elizabeth Winslet (born 5 October 1975) is an English actress and occasional singer. She is noted for having played diverse characters over her career, but probably best-known for her critically acclaimed performances as Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic, Clementine Kruczynski in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sarah Pierce in Little Children, April Wheeler in Revolutionary Road, and Hanna Schmitz in The Reader.

Winslet was born in Reading, England, United Kingdom, the daughter of Sally Anne (née Bridges), a barmaid, and Roger John Winslet, a swimming-pool contractor. Her parents were "jobbing actors", with Winslet commenting that she "didn't have a privileged upbringing" and that their daily life was "very hand to mouth". Her maternal grandparents, Linda (née Plumb) and Archibald Oliver Bridges, founded and operated the Reading Repertory Theatre, and her uncle, Robert Bridges, appeared in the original West End production of Oliver!. Her sisters, Beth Winslet and Anna Winslet, are also actresses.

Winslet, raised as an Anglican, began studying drama at the age of eleven at the Redroofs Theatre School, a co-educational independent school in Maidenhead, Berkshire, where she was head girl and appeared in a television commercial for Sugar Puffs cereal, directed by Tim Pope.

Winslet's career began on television, with a co-starring role in the BBC children's science fiction serial Dark Season in 1991. This was followed by appearances in the made-for-TV movie Anglo-Saxon Attitudes in 1992 and an episode of medical drama Casualty in 1993, also for the BBC.

The following year, Winslet auditioned for the adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, featuring Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman, intending to get the small but pivotal role of Lucy Steele. She was instead cast in the second leading role of Marianne Dashwood. Director Ang Lee admitted he was initially worried about the way Winslet had attacked her role in Heavenly Creatures and thus required her to exercise tai chi, read Austen-era Gothic novels and poetry, and work with a piano teacher to fit the grace of the role. Budgeted at $16,500,000, the film became a financial and critical success, resulting in a worldwide box office total of $135 million and various awards for Winslet, winning her both a BAFTA and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and nominations for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

In 1996, Winslet starred in Jude and Hamlet. In Michael Winterbottom's Jude, based on the Victorian novel Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, she played Sue Bridehead, a young woman with suffragette leanings who falls in love with her cousin, played by Christopher Eccleston. Acclaimed among critics, it was not a success at the box office, barely grossing $2 million worldwide. Richard Corliss of Time magazine said "Winslet is worthy of the camera's scrupulous adoration. She's perfect, a modernist ahead of her time and Jude is a handsome showcase for her gifts." Winslet depicted Ophelia, Hamlet's drowned lover, in Kenneth Branagh's all star-casted film version of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. The film garnered largely positive reviews and earned Winslet her second Empire Award.

In mid-1996, Winslet began filming James Cameron's Titanic (1997), alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. Cast as the sensitive seventeen-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater, a fictional first-class socialite who survives the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, Winslet experienced physical and emotional exhaustion on set: "Titanic was totally different and nothing could have prepared me for it. We were really scared about the whole adventure. Jim is a perfectionist, a real genius at making movies. But there was all this bad press before it came out, and that was really upsetting." Against expectations, the film went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time, grossing more than $1.8 billion in box-office receipts worldwide, and transformed Winslet into a commercial movie star. Subsequently, she was nominated for most of all high-profile awards, winning a European Film Award.

Hideous Kinky, a low-budget hippie romance based on a novel and shot prior to the release of Titanic, was her first and only film of 1998. Winslet rejected offers to play the leading roles in Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Anna and the King (1999) in favor of the role of a young English mother named Julia who moves with her daughters from London to Morocco in hopes to start a new life. The film garnered generally mixed reviews and received limited release only, resulting in a worldwide gross of $5 million. Despite the success of Titanic, the next film Winslet opted to star in was Holy Smoke! (1999) featuring Harvey Keitel, another low-budget project — much to the misery of her agents, who felt "miserable" about her preference of arthouse movies. Feeling pressured, Winslet has said she "never saw Titanic as a springboard for bigger films or bigger pay cheques," knowing that "it could have been that, but would have destroyed ." The same year, she voiced Brigid in the computer animated film Faeries.

Winslet's first effort of the 2000s was the period piece Quills with Geoffrey Rush and Joaquin Phoenix. Inspired by the life and work of the Marquis de Sade, the actress served as somewhat of a “patron saint” of the movie for being the first big name to back it, accepting the role of a chamber maid in the asylum and the carrier of the The Marquis' manuscripts to the underground publishers. Well-received by critics, the film garnered numerous accolades for Winslet, including nominations for SAG and Satellite Awards. The film was a modest art house success, averaging $27,709 per screen its debut weekend, and eventually grossing $18 million internationally.

In 2001's Enigma, she played a young woman who finds herself falling for a brilliant young World War II code breaker, played by Dougray Scott. Her first war film, Winslet regarded "making Enigma a brilliant experience" as she was was five months pregnant at the time of the shoot, forcing some tricky camera work from the director Michael Apted. Generally well-received, Winslet was awarded a British Independent Film Award for her performance. A. O. Scott of The New York Times described Winslet as "more crush-worthy than ever." In the same year she appeared in Richard Eyre's critically acclaimed film Iris, portraying Irish novelist Iris Murdoch. Winslet shared her role with Dame Judi Dench, with both actresses portraying Murdoch at different phases of her life. Subsequently, each of them was nominated for an Academy Award the following year, scoring Winslet her third nomination. Also in 2001, she voiced the character Belle in the animated motion picture Christmas Carol: The Movie, based on the Charles Dickens classic novel. For the film, Winslet recorded the song "What If," which was released in November 2001 as a single and whose proceeds went to children's cancer charities. A Europe-wide top ten hit, it reached number-one in Austria, Belgium, and Ireland.

Another film of 2004 was Finding Neverland. The story of the production focused on Scottish writer J. M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and his platonic relationship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Winslet), whose sons inspired him to pen the classic play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. During promotion of the film, Winslet noted of her portrayal: "It was very important for me in playing Sylvia that I was already a mother myself, because I don’t think I could have played that part if I didn’t know what it felt like to be a parent and have those responsibilities and that amount of love that you give to a child and I've always got a baby somewhere, or both of them, all over my face." The film received favorable reviews and proved to be an international success, becoming Winslet's highest-grossing film since Titanic with a total of $118 million worldwide.

Winslet's next appearance in a film fared far better when she joined the cast of Todd Field's Little Children, playing Sarah Pierce, a bored homemaker who has a torrid affair with a married neighbour, played by Patrick Wilson. Both her performance and the film received rave reviews; A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote: "In too many recent movies intelligence is woefully undervalued, and it is this quality — even more than its considerable beauty — that distinguishes Little Children from its peers. The result is a movie that is challenging, accessible and hard to stop thinking about. Ms. Winslet, as fine an actress as any working in movies today, registers every flicker of Sarah’s pride, self-doubt and desire, inspiring a mixture of recognition, pity and concern that amounts, by the end of the movie, to something like love. That Ms. Winslet is so lovable makes the deficit of love in Sarah’s life all the more painful." For her work in the film she was honored with another BAFTA Award, and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and at 31, became the youngest actress to ever garner five Oscar nominations.

She followed this with a role in Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy The Holiday, also starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and Jack Black. In it she played Iris, a Britishwoman who temporarily exchanges homes with an American woman (Diaz). Released to a mixed reception by critics, the film became Winslet's biggest commercial success in nine years, grossing more than $205 million worldwide.

Also in 2006, Winslet provided her voice for several smaller projects. In the CG-animated Flushed Away she voiced Rita, a scavenging sewer rat who helps Roddy (Hugh Jackman) escaping from the city of Ratropolis and return to his luxurious Kensington origins. A critical and commercial success, the film collected $177,665,672 at international box offices.

In 2007, Winslet reunited with Leonardo DiCaprio to film Revolutionary Road (2008). Directed by husband Sam Mendes, it was Winslet who suggested both to work with her on a film adaptation of the 1961 novel of the same name by Richard Yates after reading the script by Justin Haythe, resulting in both "a blessing and an added pressure" on-set as it was her first opportunity to work with Mendes. Portraying a couple in a failing marriage in the 1950s, DiCaprio and Winslet watched period videos promoting life in the suburbs to prepare themselves for the film, which earned them favorable reviews. Her seventh nomination, Winslet was finally awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Also released in fall 2008, the film competed much against Winslet's other project, a film adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's 1995 novel The Reader, directed by Stephen Daldry and featuring Ralph Fiennes and David Kross in supporting roles. Originally the first choice for her role, she was initially not able to take on the role due to a scheduling conflict with Revolutionary Road, and actress Nicole Kidman replaced her. A month after filming began, however, Kidman left the role due to her pregnancy, enabling Winslet to rejoin the film. Playing with a faked German accent, the actress portrayed a former Nazi concentration camp guard who has an affair with young man (Kross) who later witnesses her war-crimes trial, a role she noted hard to act as she was naturally unable "to sympathise with a SS guard." While the film garnered mixed critics in general, Winslet received rave reviews for her performance. The following year, she earned her sixth Academy Award nomination and went on to win the Best Actress award, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress, a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

Winslet has enjoyed a brief taste of success as a singer, with her single What If from the soundtrack of Christmas Carol: The Movie, which reached #1 in Ireland and #6 in the UK (she also filmed a music video for the song). She participated in a duet with "Weird Al" Yankovic on the Sandra Boynton CD Dog Train, and sang in the 2006 film Romance & Cigarettes. She also sang an aria from La bohème, called "Sono andati", in her film Heavenly Creatures, which is featured on the film's soundtrack. She was considered for the lead in Moulin Rouge! (which eventually went to Nicole Kidman); had she taken the part, she would have sung the full soundtrack.

While on the set of Dark Season, Winslet met actor-writer Stephen Tredre, with whom she had a five-year relationship. He died of bone cancer soon after Winslet completed filming Titanic, so she missed the premiere because she was attending his funeral in London. She and Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio have remained good friends since the filming.

Winslet was later in a relationship with Rufus Sewell, but on 22 November 1998 she married director Jim Threapleton. They have a daughter, Mia Honey, who was born on 12 October 2000 in London. After a divorce in 2001, Winslet was in a relationship with Sam Mendes, whom she married on 24 May 2003 on the island of Anguilla in the Caribbean. Their son, Joe Alfie Winslet Mendes, was born on 22 December 2003 in New York City.

The media have documented her weight fluctuations over the years. Winslet has been outspoken about her refusal to allow Hollywood to dictate her weight. In February 2003, the British edition of Gentlemen's Quarterly magazine published photographs of Winslet which had been digitally enhanced to make her look dramatically thinner than she really was; Winslet issued a statement saying that the alterations were made without her consent. GQ issued an apology in the subsequent issue.

Winslet and Mendes currently reside in New York City. They own a manor house in the tiny village of Church Westcote in Gloucestershire, England. They spent £3 million on the secluded Westcote Manor, a rambling Grade II-listed house with eight bedrooms, set in 22 acres. They have reportedly spent more than £1 million on interior renovations, as well as restoring the original water garden, mulberry garden, and orchard, all of which fell into disrepair when the former owner, equestrian artist Raoul Millais, died in 1999.

Winslet won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Reader. She has also received two Golden Globe Awards, both for films of 2008—one in in the category of Best Actress (Drama) for her performance in Revolutionary Road, the other in the Best Supporting Actress category for The Reader. She has won two BAFTA Awards: Best Actress for The Reader, and Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Sense and Sensibility (1995). She has earned a total of six Academy Award nominations, seven Golden Globe nominations, and seven BAFTA nominations.

She has received numerous awards from other organizations, including the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association (LAFCA) award for Best Supporting Actress for Iris (2001) and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Sense and Sensibility and The Reader. For Holy Smoke! (1999), she was declared Best Actress runner-up by both the New York Film Critics' Circle (NYFCC) and the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC). Winslet was also NYFCC's Best Actress runner-up for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Premiere magazine named her performance as Clementine Kruczynski in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind the 81st greatest film performance of all time.

With her Best Actress nomination for The Reader, Winslet became the youngest actor to receive six Oscar nominations. At age 33, she passed the mark formerly held by Bette Davis, who was 34 when she received her sixth nomination for her performance in Now, Voyager (1942). Winslet previously set the marks as the youngest actor to receive two, three, four, and five nominations for her performances in Titanic (1997), Iris, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Little Children (2006), respectively.

She has received two nominations for playing younger versions of another nominee in the same film—the only two instances of different actors playing the same character in the same film both being nominated. She played the younger versions of the characters played by nominees Gloria Stuart in Titanic and Judi Dench in Iris.

When she was not nominated for her work in Revolutionary Road, she became only the second actress to win a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) without getting an Oscar nomination for the same performance (Shirley MacLaine was the first for Madame Sousatzka , and she won the Golden Globe in a three-way tie with Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver). Academy rules allow an actor to receive no more than one nomination in a given category; as the Academy nominating process determined that Winslet's work in The Reader would be considered a lead performance—unlike the Golden Globes, which considered it a supporting performance—she could not be nominated for Best Actress for both films.

In 2000, Winslet won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for Listen To the Storyteller. Winslet was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for playing herself in a 2005 episode of Extras.

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Source : Wikipedia