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The idyllic spot, which straddles the states of Nevada and California, is also home to black bears – renowned for foraging for treats. Dame Helen said that she came across one trying to steal bird food. She stormed up to the animal and shouted: “Bad bear! Bad, naughty bear! Very naughty bear!”

Local advice is to assert your dominance to force a bear to leave.

Dame Helen, married to US director Taylor Hackford, 75, said: “We just finished building a house here. We had made the move from LA, literally, six months before the lockdown.

“We’re not right on the lake but I can see it from here. It’s really pretty… and just endless entertainment by wildlife – chipmunks and golden-mantled squirrels and about 10 different kinds of birds.

“I saw a bear the other day! A great big black bear came by and stole all my bird food. I went out and I said: ‘Bad bear! Bad, naughty bear! Very naughty bear!’

“He looked at me and lumbered off. He was a big black bear.”

Dame Helen added: “Funnily enough, I was just reading about wildlife up here.

“If you encounter a bear – [if] it’s looking aggressively at you and hunching its back and looking like it’s about to charge… you make yourself look as big as possible, if you can grab a stick and then shout: ‘Bad bear!’

“There is, of course, that famous stage instruction in Shakespeare: ‘Exit, followed by a bear’!” Dame Helen told the Marc Maron podcast she is not a monarchist – despite winning an Oscar for her role in 2006 film The Queen.

She said: “My parents were strong anti-monarchists. I don’t have a reverence for the monarchy.

“As [The Queen director] Stephen Frears said, ‘We’re Queen-ists, we’re not monarchists’.

“I appreciate and very much respect how she has conducted herself through all of this history, through all of these changes, cultural changes, in the world that she has survived through.

“She never got fat, she never got thin, she never became addicted to anything, she just steadily went on.”

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