Dons
News

Never a Dahl moment: Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench find love in Esio Trot

Never a Dahl moment: Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench find love in Esio Trot

Tortoises, Roald Dahl and the man behind Love Actually are just three of the ingredients in Esio Trot, a romantic comedy for BBC One starring Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench.
Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench in Esio Trot

Put together, 77-year-old Dustin Hoffman, 79-year-old Dame Judi Dench and Richard Curtis – a relative stripling at the age of 58 – have more than 214 years between them.

As Dame Judi says, though, age is just a number – especially in a new TV comedy drama that makes a point of proving one can still find love in the autumn of life.

Based on Roald Dahl’s 1990 children’s novel, Esio Trot tells of a lonely London bachelor whose head is turned by the flirtatious widow who lives directly below him.

Her passion for tortoises seems an insuperable hurdle to their chances of romance – until Mr Hoppy (Hoffman) finds an unusual way of getting Mrs Silver (Dench) to notice him.

The fact that Esio Trot is tortoise spelt backwards gives a clue as to what form Mr Hoppy’s plan takes, for those who have yet to read Dahl’s 1990 original for their own pleasure or their children’s.

Suffice to say that reading sdrawkcab plays a pivotal role in a story that also features James Corden as the neighbour who serves as the story’s guide and narrator.

Curtis, whose successes include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and the Blackadder TV series, admits to being « a huge fan » of an author he likens to Charles Dickens.

James Corden

James Corden appears in Esio Trot as the narrator of Dahl’s tortoise-heavy story

« I always get warm [on set] so I always want air conditioning, » Hoffman goes on. « We brought in these big machines, but by the third day we weren’t using them anymore.

« It was all because of the tortoises. If they get too cold, they won’t act. »

So did Hoffman and Dench get to spend any time together when they weren’t filming Esio Trot in London earlier this year? « Judi wanted to socialise, but I was always too tired, » says the former with a shrug.

« I don’t socialise when I’m working, » he goes on. « I don’t socialise when I’m not working. Other than that, I love people! »