Fresh from her recent Oscar-nomination, veteran silver screen actress DAME Judi Dench has signed up for the small screen once more, appearing in a BBC production based on the novels of ELIZABETH GASKELL.

The 72-year-old Oscar winner has agreed to play Matty Jenkyns in the drama, which is set in rural 19th century Cheshire.

And Dame Judi admitted she was "so excited" to appear in the series as it would give her a "summer of fun to look forward to".

The CRANFORD CHRONICLES series is based on three books by Gaskell, who is famous for her other, also recently dramatised novels, WIVES AND DAUGHTERS and NORTH AND SOUTH.

Dame Judi has been nominated for this year's Oscars for her performance in NOTES ON A SCANDAL, although she has also won an Academy Award in 1999 for her role in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.

However, the classical actress has also mastered the small screen in the past, building up a solid fan base opposite GEOFFREY PALMER in long-running UK sitcom AS TIME GOES BY.

31/01/2007 15:32:24