The voice is instantly recognisable, even though the clipped, metronome-precise tones have been slightly lengthened by years of living in America.
This summer Dame Julie Andrews is back on her home turf with a short tour of speaking engagements, where she will look back at her amazing life.
An Evening with Julie Andrews, hosted by the popular presenter Aled Jones, will provide insight into the life and career of the much-loved star whose credits include Broadway appearances in The Boyfriend, My Fair Lady and Camelot, and her award-winning screen performances in Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and the motion picture version of Victor-Victoria.
This Academy Award recipient and winner of multiple Golden Globes, BAFTA’s, Emmy and Grammy awards will weave in professional and personal anecdotes as well as showing highlights from her life during her live chat.
She will also discuss her charity work and then open the evening up to questions from the audience. An Evening with Julie Andrews comes to Bournemouth’s Pavilion on June 1.
“It’s a very small tour,” she explained in her beautifully modulated tones.
“I am particularly looking forward to Bournemouth because I remember it so fondly because it’s such a beautiful town and I remember travelling down there, through the New Forest when I was a child.
“I now live in Long island, which has a beautiful climate with four seasons, but my children are over in England so I love coming back.”
Although she has an award-laden history of live performances, it is films that have given Julie Andrews a long-lived career and made her an integral part of early-years entertainment for generations of cinema goers.
In the 1960s she starred in the evergreen The Sound of Music and won an Oscar as the spit-spot singing nanny with a heart in Mary Poppins.
The 1970s and ’80s saw her in more ‘serious’ productions including Darling Lili, Victor Victoria and Duet for One, while in the early noughties she charmed a new generation of fans with The Princess Diaries and by lending her voice to the blockbuster cartoons Shrek Two, The Third and Ever After as well as Despicable Me one and two, and narrating Enchanted.
“I don’t know how they got me to play that terrible mother in Despicable Me, but I had such fun!” she laughed.
“I still get terrific scripts coming through and I’m thrilled but sadly not always able to do the films because of other commitments. I have been so lucky with my work and it’s hard to say what gives me most pleasure, looking back.
“I loved working with my husband Blake Edwards very much, because I trusted him and he was so good at what he did.”
Family and work have often overlapped throughout Julie’s life. As well as filming with her husband Blake, she has also written almost 30 children’s books, many of them with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton.
These include The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, which has just celebrated 30 years in print, and The Great American Mousical about a troupe of performing mice.
“It is such a joy to work with Emma, I can’t begin to tell you,” said Julie.
“But it is a responsibility because you are guiding young minds and good writing and using words well matters so much. It really matters to me and Emma that we get it as right as possible. It’s funny, but when she was a little girl I never dreamed that we would be working together.”
When Julie was working on Mary Poppins she came into contact with the story’s fearsome author P L Travers – immortalised by Emma Thompson in the film Saving Mr Banks – who was a sad, insecure writer who was afraid that the nanny she created would be ruined if she fell into the wrong hands.
“She was very brusque, but I think she was also needy and vulnerable,” said Julie.
“But there is a point where you have to let it go and if you have loved the character you have created it is wonderful to see it being realised the way it should be.
“Mary Poppins was the first film I made and it was a phenomenal lesson in the art of patience. Filming took a long time and we had to wait around until everything – obviously – was exactly right.
“Disney did these things so well, but it was like being at a party and not daring to sit down in case you got your best dress messed!”
Although she has not starred in films for some time, she is still recognised on the street and keeps her finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the silver screen.
“This year there have been some wonderful film roles for women and there is a so much talent out there,” she said. “And the subjects tackled have been fascinating and also necessary.
“I am a private person and can go about and live my life and when people do come up to me they are lovely, mostly very charming, so it’s not such a big deal.
“One of the things they always ask is what advice would I give to people who want to be on stage or in films. I am sure it will come up in the question and answer session at Bournemouth! And I always say do your homework and be ready for that your big moment. It will probably happen when you least expect it – as it did with me – so you need to be ready to make the most of it when it happens.”