Lee: Friends stunned Dench was cast

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton got to attend the Oscars Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton got to attend the Oscars

The real Philomena Lee has admitted her friends thought she was "going round the twist" when she told them Dame Judi Dench would be playing her in a film.

Philomena's search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption in 1950s Ireland was turned into a film starring Steve Coogan and Dame Judi, with the actress earning an Oscar nomination for her performance.

Asked her response when she heard Dame Judi had been cast, Philomena said: "Oh I told my friends and they thought I was going round the twist. They couldn't believe it. Judi Dench, playing my part?

"For years I was just an ordinary housewife and now I'm getting onto my 81st year. I think they thought I was losing it a bit. I was so happy to prove them wrong!"

Philomena also revealed she and her son Anthony and her daughter Jane Libberton "didn't know what to think" of Stephen Frears' film the first time they saw it.

"Then we saw it a second time and we just wanted to know what other people thought about it, because we had our own ideas about it. Then the third time, we just took it on board and thought it was great," she said.

The family got to attend this year's Academy Awards, where they rubbed shoulders with Hollywood stars.

Philomena said: "It was so exciting. I've never experienced anything like that in my whole life. We made the most of it and met some wonderful people while we were out there."

Jane added: "It was a great experience. Everybody wants to go to the Oscars, don't they? And the show was very entertaining, more so than we thought it was going to be. It was quite a long show but they did it very well. We both loved Ellen, she was very funny. She kept us entertained."

:: Philomena is out on Blu-ray and DVD from March 24.

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