DAME Judi Dench is set to thrill fans in Britain and the US by reprising her role as Jean HARDCASTLE in a Christmas special of classic sitcom AS TIME GOES BY.

The show will see the Oscar-winning actress reunited with onscreen husband, British TV veteran Geoffrey Palmer, and will be a highlight of the BBC's festive schedule.

A insider tells British newspaper The Sun, "Their daughter JUDY has marital problems so JEAN's chances of grandchildren are looking slim."