'Just keep laughing!': Judi Dench leads older stars lifting spirits on Twitter

From Dench in a dog hat to Elaine Paige in flower-clad rubber gloves, entertainment royalty is standing up to coronavirus with some bizarre comic relief. Now, where’s Cher?

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Now that Cats has faded from view, doomed to become an artefact held up by future historians as a decadent totem of how human beings spent their precious time back when they were allowed out of the house, it might be time to welcome Judi Dench back into the fold. Better yet, Judi Dench dressed up as a dog.

The Dench reappearance came earlier today as part of a cluster of older stars demonstrating jaunty defiance in the face of the coronavirus. In a 10-second video posted to Twitter by her daughter Finty Williams, Dame Judi turns to face the camera in a novelty dog hat, pulls a cord that makes the hat’s ears pop up and shrieks: “Oh, there you are. Just keep laughing. That’s all we can do”. End of video.

Message from Ma... pic.twitter.com/3ExqvA5tvY

— Finty williams (@finty_williams) March 18, 2020

It’s slightly less screen-time than Dench had in Shakespeare in Love, but arguably even more worthy of an Oscar. In a time streaked with anxious uncertainty, this is exactly what the world needed to see. An 85-year-old woman, in the highest-risk demographic, scraping a few atoms of positivity from what has been a terrible year. If you didn’t love her then, you should love her now. Especially since her dog hat is about a thousand times more convincing than the nightmarish suit she was made to wear in Cats.

Just as gleeful as Dench, and even more educational, was the video posted by Elaine Paige. The accompanying tweet was full of sterling advice about cleaning phones and bank cards, but the video itself was a sight to behold. Where to start with it? The ostentatious gold-studded jacket? The fact that her rubber gloves have enormous flowers strapped to them? The legendary “don’t cry for me, I’m the cleaner” pun? Her subsequent laugh, which remains the single dirtiest thing ever received by human ears? It’s an awful lot to take in, but it is wonderful.

Being super-vigilant about hygiene will help stop spread of #COVID2019. As well as washing ur hands, my tip is 2 wipe down ur mobile phone, ur bank cards after shopping & ur surfaces at work & at home! #Corona HATES cleanliness! #Corvid19uk #SelfIsolation #keEPsinging #StaySafe pic.twitter.com/kUs87Jj1Rt

— Elaine Paige (@elaine_paige) March 18, 2020

Dench and Paige join Mel Brooks, who this week appeared in his son’s tweet about the importance of social distancing.

A message from me and my dad, @Melbrooks. #coronavirus #DontBeASpreader pic.twitter.com/Hqhc4fFXbe

— Max Brooks (@maxbrooksauthor) March 16, 2020

And Anthony Hopkins, who has apparently chosen to mark his time in self-imposed quarantine by playing beautifully calm piano songs to an exclusive audience of one murderous-looking cat.

Niblo is making sure I stay healthy and demands I entertain him in exchange... cats 🤷🏼‍♂️ pic.twitter.com/5HgrdS2P9t

— Anthony Hopkins (@AnthonyHopkins) March 18, 2020

You get the impression that this is going to be a golden age for celebrity memes. Film and television production is halted. Venues are closed. Perhaps this is how stars will maintain their cachet in a time of widespread isolation.

Who will be next? Bette Midler seems to have largely checked out, and Dolly Parton is carrying on as if nothing has happened. Never more do you sense that people are ready for Cher to make a novelty video.

She’s certainly bubbling under at the moment, urging people to stay inside by tweeting a picture of an antique gong for some reason.

Should she attempt to turn that strain of magisterial batshittery into video, the reaction would probably be big enough to send the virus packing all by itself. Dench has stepped up. Paige has stepped up. Brooks has stepped up. Cher, the world is waiting.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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