Dame Judi Dench dating wildlife conservationist?

London: Veteran actress Dame Judi Dench is reportedly dating wildlife conservationist David Mills, for the first time since the death of her husband actor Michael Williams in 2001.

The 76-year-old actress was spotted out with Mills, who runs an animal park and both of them took to the dance floor at the Waldorf Hotel at a party to celebrate the opening night of the West End comedy "Betty Blue Eyes".

Both of them were seen arm in arm as they made their way to watch the show at the Novello Theatre. A clip of their arrival has been posted on YouTube.

Dench, who plays secret service boss M in the James Bond films, is a regular visitor to the British Wildlife Centre, which is run by Mills and is close to her Surrey home.

"The friendship is being talked about quite openly in theatrical circles. Judi seems very happy with the relationship and in fact her friends say she is the happiest she has been for several years," dailymail.co.uk quoted a source as saying.

But another source said: "I would be very surprised indeed if there was a new man in her life."

Although Mills confirmed that he and the actress were "close friends" he denied relationship, saying, "This is very difficult".