Dame Judi Dench agreed to star in an adaptation of 'Richard III' after a public plea from Benedict Cumberbatch at the weekend.

The veteran actress was taking part in a question and answer session at the Hay Festival in Powys, Wales when the 'Sherlock' star - who will take on the title role in the BBC drama this autumn - jumped at the chance to pin her down to the project following lengthy rumours he was keen to have her on board to play Queen Margaret in the Shakespearean tale.

Benedict asked: ''Would you like to be in 'Richard III' with me?''

After a lengthy pause, Judi replied: ''Yeah.''

Apparently there was a rather good theatrical pause until she finally said, ''Yeah''.

The actor joined the 'Skyfall' star on stage for a mini performance of a number of Shakespeare plays, including 'Twelfth Night' and 'Antony and Cleopatra'.

The 79-year-old actress recalled her appearance in the latter production opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins in 1987, admitting many felt her casting was unlikely.

She said: ''People just laughed when it was announced I was going to be Cleopatra - she's meant to be a very, very tall girl so the challenge of that was considerable.

''As Anthony Hopkins was dying in my arms he'd say to me, 'I'm off for a nice cup of tea now'.''