Dame Judi Dench's partner has joked she "fell in love" with his squirrels before him.

The 'Goldeneye' actress met David Mills - who she has been in a relationship for 10 years - when she visited his wildlife centre in Surrey and the 77-year-old conservationist has recalled how he "rushed" to make himself known to the 88-year-old screen veteran when he saw her walk into the facility.

Speaking on Judi's 'Countryfile' special - which she guest edited - on Sunday (03.09.23), he said: "I saw her coming in with her family, so rushed I out and made myself known.

"She asked, 'Is there anything I can do to help?' and I said I said yes, I was building a red squirrel enclosure and asked, 'Will you please come and open it?'.

"She said yes and the rest is history'.

And asked who she fell in love with first, David joked: "My squirrels!"

Elsewhere on the show, Judi described Scotland as her "spiritual home".

During filming in the Highlands, she said: "I would say, actually, that my spiritual home is Scotland, simply because I just feel comfortable here."

The 'Mrs. Brown' actress recently admitted she felt "lucky" to have found love with David after previously spending 30 years with husband Michael Williams - the father of her daughter Finty - before he died of cancer in 2001.

She told Notebook magazine: "[I] never expected, not for a minute, that there would be anybody else in my life.

"I've had many, many good friends, but it's been very unexpected to have somebody who is as caring as my partner David. Someone to be able to share things with ... I feel very lucky indeed."

Judi went on to reveal the secret to her longtime relationship with David is their shared sense of humour.

She added: "To laugh with someone is terribly important. We laugh about everything."