Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench showed she still had the power to shock after she got a tattoo for her 81st birthday.

Dame Judi, whose unconventional present was given to her last year by daughter Finty, had the words "carpe diem" inked on her right wrist.

She claimed that the gift had been a surprise and the words were meant to be her motto, although the wording caused some confusion among the company of The Winter's Tale, with whom she was performing at the time.

"Mind you [they] used to say that it said fish of the day."


Dame Judi hinted that while the tattoo showed her determination to remain young, she admitted the effects of age were also catching up with her.

"I just want to go on being mobile and able to do things. I'm not going to be beaten by my eyes. I have macular degeneration but you just have to settle for it.

"On my scripts, my font is point-size 22, so you can imagine ... It's ridiculous, it's a farce but I'm not going to give in."

She refused to consider retirement and claimed that she fully intended on carrying on with acting.

"If you give up on one thing then it seems to me that you might as well give up on another and so on, when it's so much better to keep the mind active."

Other veteran actresses with tattoos include Dame Helen Mirren, aged 70, who has been inked with interlocking Vs on her left hand.

She previously claimed she had tattoo done while "very drunk" when acting with an American Indian theatre group in Minnesota as a young woman.

And Prime Minister David Cameron's wife Samantha has a dolphin tattoo on her right ankle.