Entertainment & Arts

'Queen' Helen Mirren scolds drummers

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Media captionEyewitness video showed Mirren gesticulating as the drummers played on

Dame Helen Mirren yelled at a group of street drummers to be quiet while still dressed in her stage costume as Queen Elizabeth II, it has emerged.

The incident took place in London on Saturday after a parade promoting a gay and transgender festival paused on Rupert Street, but continued to drum.

Dame Helen, on stage in the Audience at the nearby Gielgud Theatre, eventually emerged in full costume.

She says she used "thespian words" to tell them to be quiet.

Orange Nation, organisers of the One in the Park festival, said in a statement that Dame Helen had been dressed in pearls and a tiara when she emerged from a stage door and demanded that the noise should stop.

"Clearly angered she shrieked, 'Quiet! I'm trying to do a play in here! People have paid a lot of money for tickets'," it said.

Dame Helen was also joined in the street by Rufus Wright, who plays Prime Minister David Cameron in the production.

He wrote on Twitter: "Just fulfilled a lifelong ambition by bellowing at 25 drummers to shut... up. West End theatres got thin walls."

"I'm afraid there were a few 'thespian' words used," Dame Helen told the Daily Telegraph.

'Spontaneous, crazy things'

Liam Emerson, who was leading the drummers, told the BBC: "We're both [himself and Dame Helen] performers... We had our performance, it's just unfortunate ours got a bit louder. We were just doing our gig - doing our thing."

Mr Emerson said the drummers had performed in Old Compton Street earlier in the day without any problems, but he added: "We'll be a bit more wary of it next time."

He also admitted the incident had been good publicity, although the festival had already been publicised.

"After Saturday, they're going to get us involved in the actual event itself. Word has it we'll have someone dressed up as the Queen with us," he added.

Comedian Chris Dangerfield, who shot video footage of the incident, told the BBC he thought Dame Helen had "scared the life out of the conductor, flailing her arms around".

"She threw her rattle out of the pram and he was terrified," said Dangerfield.

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Media captionLiam Emerson: "It's not every day you get told off by a dame dressed as the Queen"

The comedian, who filmed the scene from his flat opposite the theatre, said he did not know why those in the theatre "should take priority because they'd paid", stressing that some 500 or 600 people had been "enjoying the drummers" outside.

"They were screaming and cheering, it's what Soho's known for - spontaneous, crazy things happen. There's a big mix of cultural artefacts going on here."

The Daily Telegraph reported that Dame Helen had pointed out audience members had paid up to £100 per ticket to see the performance.

"She was effing and blinding, it was quite bizarre," said Mark McKenzie, who organised the parade. "She told us to... stop', she must have really lost her temper. I said, 'Let's end this now because we can't better that'.

"Not much shocks you on the gay scene. But seeing Helen Mirren dressed as the Queen cussing and swearing and making you stop your parade - that's a new one."

The Audience imagines the private meetings between Queen Elizabeth II and her prime ministers over the decades. It reunites Dame Helen with playwright Peter Morgan, who also wrote the 2006 film The Queen.

Dame Helen won best actress for her role as Her Majesty at last week's Laurence Olivier Awards.

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