Firefighters serenade Dame Judi

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News: Dame Judi Dench attending a gala screening for new film Philomena Dame Judi Dench attending a gala screening for new film Philomena

Dame Judi Dench was serenaded by protesting firemen at the premiere of her new film Philomena .

Members of the Fire Brigades Union were campaigning against pension cuts, waving banners and placards as they drank outside a pub in London's Leicester Square while Dame Judi walked the red carpet with co-star Steve Coogan and director Stephen Frears.

The 78-year-old actress got the giggles trying to give an interview as the rowdy firefighters sang The Beatles' Hey Jude and chanted, "We love you Judi."

They also shouted "Aha!" at Steve, the catchphrase of his hit comedy character Alan Partridge.

The film, co-written and produced by Steve, tells the true story of Philomena Lee's search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption in the 1950s by the nuns who ran an Irish convent where she gave birth.

Dame Judi said at the American Express Gala screening for the BFI London Film Festival: "Philomena is an exceptional woman and this story is about her fortitude, and her strength and her faith.

"If we were all as strong in our convictions as Philomena then we wouldn't have much to worry about."

Steve plays journalist Martin Sixsmith, who helped Lee in her attempt to track down her son and wrote a book about her story.

The actor, who has campaigned for press regulation, insisted he did not set out to portray journalists as the villains of the piece.

Steve said: "I only have strong views about bad press, I like good press. I like good journalists.

"So it's not that I thought 'I'm playing a journalist, what an awful thing to do.' That's a really simplistic, reductive thing that certain sections of the press do.

"The story happened to involve a journalist, so I just played a journalist as a human being. My involvement in Hacked Off and Leveson and trying to improve press standards and make the press accountable, which is something I'm very proud of, doesn't have anything to do with this.

"There's no real judgment on Martin as a journalist. He's slightly cynical in the film and what triumphs over cynicism is optimism."

:: Philomena is out in cinemas on November 27.

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