Maggie Smith and Judi Dench - photographed by the pool at the Four Seasons, Los Angeles, as they prepare for the 2002 Academy Awards

Dench happily admits she and Maggie Smith were reduced to “giggling girls” during their eight-week shoot in India (for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), passing their spare time playing word game Bananagrams (incidentally, a game Dench taught Smith, who in turn introduced it to her Downton Abbey colleagues).“I was swimming in the hotel one day and Maggs was in her room. She said, ‘Oh Judi, go and get Bananagrams’,” Dench explains, recalling how their hotel boasted a pool right outside their rooms.“So I swam back, went in, got the Bananagrams, tied it round my head and swam back - and she took a photograph!" 

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Dame Maggie Smith steps forward in typically stately fashion, the illusion of grandeur only slightly dimmed by the fact that she is wading through a swimming pool, a banana shaped bag of the word Bananagrams balanced precariously on her head. Filming The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has wrapped for the day and Maggie is heading to the room of her great friend and co-star, Dame Judi Dench. "Their rooms are divided by the pool, so they paddle over to each other and play the game in their swimsuits, the film’s director, John Madden, explains to Marie Claire.