Aubry D'Arminio
March 30, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

We gave it an A

The Judi Dench Collection, an eight-disc celebration of Dench’s BBC work, is a blinder — eight films, one serial, three interviews, and three radio plays. If you’re wary of talky, restrained British acting, start with edgier fare like Dench’s loose-cannon turns as a pregnant nymphomaniac in 1966’s Talking With a Stranger and an alcoholic World War II survivor in 1991’s Absolute Hell. Then watch her candid 2002 sit-down with Notes on a Scandaldirector Richard Eyre (portraying Bond boss M makes Dench feel ”drunk with power”; she finds bad behavior ”irresistible” and once threw a cup of boiling hot tea at her husband and his mother). Old fans will want to go straight to the fluffier inclusions — the rare French farce Keep an Eye on Amélie (pictured) and the actress’ appearance on the ’80s British chat show Favourite Things (hers include teddy bears and fresh fish) — or the costume dramas: This set boasts a striking modern adaptation of Ibsen’s scandalous Ghosts, with Dench as the tragic dowager who must euthanize her grown son. A recent poll voted her the best British actress of all time, another designated her most popular person in England after the Queen. See why. A

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