The Info List - Dawn French

Dawn Roma French[1] (born 11 October 1957) is a British actress, writer, and comedian. She is best known for starring in and writing for the comedy sketch show French and Saunders
French and Saunders
with comedy partner Jennifer Saunders
Jennifer Saunders
and for playing the lead role as Geraldine Granger in the sitcom The Vicar of Dibley. French has been nominated for seven BAFTA TV Awards
and also won a BAFTA Fellowship with Jennifer Saunders.


1 Early life 2 Career

2.1 Television 2.2 Film and theatre 2.3 Advertising

3 Music videos 4 Personal life 5 Awards and recognition

Awards 5.2 British Comedy Awards 5.3 National Television Awards 5.4 Other

6 Filmography

6.1 Television 6.2 Theatre 6.3 Films

7 Bibliography 8 References 9 External links

Early life[edit] French was born in Holyhead, Wales, to English parents Denys Vernon French (5 August 1932 – 11 September 1977)[2] and Felicity Roma French (née O'Brien),[3] who married in their hometown of Plymouth
in 1953. She was educated at the independent St Dunstan's Abbey School (now absorbed by Plymouth
College). She has an older brother, Gary (born 1955). Her father served in the Royal Air Force, stationed at RAF Valley. The RAF partly funded her public education.[4] When her father was stationed at the former RAF Faldingworth, she attended Caistor Grammar School
Caistor Grammar School
in Caistor, boarding in the school's Lindsey house. She later won a debating scholarship that brought her to study at the Spence School
Spence School
in New York.[4] French has claimed that her self-confidence and self-belief stem from her father, who told her how beautiful she was each day.[5] She stated, "He taught me to value myself. He told me that I was beautiful and the most precious thing in his life."[6] He had a history of severe depression and two suicide attempts but managed to conceal his illness from Dawn and her brother.[5] However, on September 11, 1977 Denys French committed suicide by car exhaust, aged 45.[7] She studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama
Central School of Speech and Drama
in 1977, where she met her future comedy partner, Jennifer Saunders.[5][8] Both came from RAF backgrounds. They had grown up on the same base, even having had the same best friend, although never meeting.[9] At first, as far as Saunders was concerned, French was a "cocky little upstart". French considered Saunders snooty and aloof.[9] The comic duo originally did not like each other as French wanted to become a drama teacher[8] whereas Saunders loathed the idea and thus disliked French for being enthusiastic and confident about the course.[5] French and Saunders
French and Saunders
shared a flat whilst at college and were influenced to do comedy by their flatmates as part of their projects for college. After talking in depth for the first time, they came to be friends.[5] While at college she broke up with her fiancé, a former Royal Navy
Royal Navy
officer. After they graduated, they formed a double-act called the Menopause Sisters. Saunders has described the act, which involved wearing tampons in their ears, as "cringeworthy". The manager of the club recalled, "They didn't seem to give a damn. There was no star quality about them at all."[9] French and Saunders came to public attention as members of the Comic Strip, part of the alternative comedy scene in the early 1980s. French has also written a best-selling epistolary[10] autobiography, which she has titled Dear Fatty. French was paid a £1.5 million advance for the book, which was released in 2008.[11] On an appearance on The Paul O'Grady Show
The Paul O'Grady Show
on 6 October 2008, French said that "Fatty" is her nickname for Jennifer Saunders, as a joke about her own size. French said that she became great friends with Saunders well before they started working together, which was "over 30 years ago". The book consists of letters to the different people who have been in her life. In 2017 Me. You. A Diary, French's second book, was released.[12] Career[edit] Television[edit] French has had an extensive career on television, debuting on Channel 4's The Comic Strip Presents series in an episode called "Five Go Mad in Dorset" in 1982.[8] Each episode presented a self-contained story and, in addition to French and Saunders, showcased Comic Strip performers Peter Richardson, Rik Mayall, Robbie Coltrane
Robbie Coltrane
and Adrian Edmondson. She acted in 27 of the 37 episodes and wrote two of them.[8] One episode featured a parody of spaghetti westerns and another a black and white film about a hopelessly goofy boy. Some of French's first exposure to a wider audience occurred when comedy producer Martin Lewis recorded a Comic Strip record album in 1981 which featured sketches by French & Saunders. The album was released on Springtime!/Island Records in September 1981 and presented French and Jennifer Saunders
Jennifer Saunders
to an audience outside London. In 1985, French starred with Saunders, Tracey Ullman
Tracey Ullman
and Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax
in Girls on Top, which portrayed four eccentric women sharing a flat in London.[8] French has co-written and starred in her and Saunders' comedy series, French & Saunders, which debuted in 1987.[8] On their show, the duo have spoofed many celebrities such as Madonna, Cher, Catherine Zeta-Jones and the Spice Girls. They have also parodied films such as The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars
Star Wars
and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. After 20 years being on television together, their last sketch series, A Bucket o' French & Saunders, began airing on 8 September 2007.[5] French and Saunders
French and Saunders
have also followed separate careers. During French's time starring in Murder Most Horrid, from 1991 to 1999, she played a different character each week, whether it was the murderer, victim or both.[8] In 2002, French appeared in the comedy/drama mini-series Ted and Alice. In the series, set in the Lake District, French played a tourist information officer who falls in love with an alien. She also appeared in the BBC
sitcom Wild West, with Catherine Tate,[13] in which she played a woman living in Cornwall
who is a lesbian, more through lack of choice than any specific natural urge. This series did not meet with as much success as her earlier roles and it ended in 2004 after two years.[citation needed] French's biggest solo television role to date has been as the title figure in the long running and popular BBC
comedy The Vicar of Dibley, which Richard Curtis
Richard Curtis
created for her. She starred as Geraldine Granger, a vicar of a small village called Dibley. An audience of 12.3 million watched the final full-length episode to see her character's marriage ceremony.[14] Her last appearance on The Vicar of Dibley was with Damian Lewis
Damian Lewis
in a mini-episode made for Comic Relief in 2013. She was nominated for a BAFTA
for Best Comedy Performance in the last episode of The Vicar of Dibley. Repeats of the show on BBC One still attract millions of viewers and it also retains a following amongst PBS
viewers in the United States.[15] French played a major role in Jam & Jerusalem as a woman called "Rosie" who has dissociative identity disorder and with it an alter ego called "Margaret". She co-starred alongside Sue Johnston (as the lead character, Sal), Jennifer Saunders
Jennifer Saunders
(regular bit-part as Caroline – also created and wrote the series) and Joanna Lumley
Joanna Lumley
(regular bit-part Delilah). She made a guest appearance in Little Britain
Little Britain
as Vicky Pollard's mother. French also appeared in a special version of Little Britain
Little Britain
Live which featured several celebrity guests and was shown by the BBC
as part of Comic Relief. She played the part of a lesbian barmaid in a sketch with Daffyd Thomas.[16] In 2006, French appeared in Agatha Christie's Marple (episode: "Sleeping Murder"). She appeared as Caroline Arless in the BBC television drama Lark Rise to Candleford in 2008. Talking about her role, she has stated, "I'm quite a vibrant character. She's quite extreme, in that she drinks too much, laughs too much and sings too much. But she loves her family very much; it's just that she goes over the top sometimes."[17] In late 2010, French starred in Roger & Val Have Just Got In with actor Alfred Molina. French appeared in Little Crackers, short comedy films which were broadcast over Christmas in 2010.[18] French appeared as a special guest on Michael Bublé's Home For Christmas in December 2011. In July 2012, she was a judge in ITV's Superstar live shows. In March 2013, it was announced that French would replace Brian McFadden
Brian McFadden
on the judging panel of Nine Network's Australia's Got Talent
Australia's Got Talent
alongside Kyle Sandilands, Timomatic
and Geri Halliwell (who replaced Dannii Minogue).[19] Film and theatre[edit] In films, French played The Fat Lady in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,[20] replacing Elizabeth Spriggs, who played the character in the first film of the series. French's then-husband, Lenny Henry, provided the voice of the Shrunken Head in the same film, though they shared no screen time. In 2005 French provided the voice for the character Mrs. Beaver in Disney and Walden Media's film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.[21] In 2010, French lent her voice to the role of Angie the Elephant in the environmental animated film Animals United. In 1996 French appeared in The Adventures of Pinocchio as "The Baker's Wife" alongside Martin Landau
Martin Landau
and Home Improvement star Jonathan Taylor Thomas She has also taken roles in the theatre. French has appeared in plays such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, My Brilliant Divorce, and Smaller, which last is about a schoolteacher caring for her disabled mother. January 2007 saw French performing as the Duchesse de Crackentorp at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, in The Daughter of the Regiment (La fille du régiment) by Gaetano Donizetti. Soprano Natalie Dessay and tenor Juan Diego Flórez
Juan Diego Flórez
were the leads in the production.[22] French returned to Covent Garden
Covent Garden
and La Fille du règiment in the 2010 revival. Her tour of 2014 is called 30 Million minutes since she will be this age in 2014. According to her time of birth this will happen on 25 or 26 October.[23] Advertising[edit] French was chosen as the face of Terry's Chocolate Orange,[24] until August 2007, when she was dropped.[25] She has also been in advertisements for Churchill
Insurance Company. Music videos[edit] French has appeared in the videos to Alison Moyet's songs "Love Letters" (which also featured Saunders) in 1987 and "Whispering Your Name" in 1994. She also appeared in two Comic Relief music videos. In 1989 she joined Jennifer Saunders
Jennifer Saunders
and Kathy Burke to form "Lananeeneenoonoo" and, along with Bananarama, they created a charity single to raise money for Comic Relief. It was a cover version of The Beatles
The Beatles
song "Help!", and was released on the London Records
London Records
label, entering the UK Singles Chart on 25 February 1989 and reaching a high of #3. It remained in the chart for nine weeks. French, Saunders and Burke returned for Comic Relief in 1997 as "The Sugar Lumps," along with Llewella Gideon and Lulu, to parody The Spice Girls, with whom they performed a version of "Who Do You Think You Are?" In 1986 she appeared as a blonde in Kate Bush's music video titled "Experiment IV." Personal life[edit] French met Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry
on the alternative comedy circuit. The couple married on 20 October 1984 in Covent Garden, London. They adopted a daughter, Billie.[26] French has stated that Billie has always known that she was adopted,[26] but once took out an injunction when a biographer came close to revealing the identity of Billie's biological mother. When faced with a question about how she and Henry would feel if Billie wanted to find out about her birth mother, French commented, "Whatever she wants to do when she's 18, we'll support her. What I do worry about is anyone else making the decision for her."[26] On 6 April 2010, French and Henry announced they were separating after 25 years of marriage. It was reported that the separation was amicable. They had decided to separate in October the previous year but left it until then as they were still in discussion over the separation.[27] Their divorce was finalised in 2010.[28] French began dating charity worker Mark Bignell in 2011. On 22 April 2013 it was reported that they had just married.[28] The couple reside in Fowey, Cornwall, in a mansion with 40 rooms overlooking Readymoney Cove
and neighbouring Poldridmouth Cove, known as smugglers' cove. The grade II-listed building dates back to the 19th century.[10] In September 2014 French was named as the new Chancellor of Falmouth University.[29] French is a supporter of the Labour Party.[30] Awards and recognition[edit] French and Saunders
French and Saunders
won the honorary Golden Rose of Montreux
Golden Rose of Montreux
award in 2002 and in 2003, she was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In a 2006 poll consisting of 4,000 people, French was named as the most admired female celebrity amongst women in Britain.[31] In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour
Woman's Hour
on BBC
Radio 4.[32] BAFTA

1989 – Nominated – BAFTA TV Award
for Best Light Entertainment Performance in French and Saunders 1991 – Nominated – BAFTA TV Award
for Best Light Entertainment Performance in French and Saunders 1998 – Nominated – BAFTA TV Award
for Best Comedy Performance in The Vicar of Dibley 2000 – Nominated – BAFTA TV Award
for Best Comedy Performance in The Vicar of Dibley 2001 – Nominated – BAFTA TV Award
for Best Comedy Performance in The Vicar of Dibley 2007 – Nominated – BAFTA TV Award
for Best Comedy Performance in The Vicar of Dibley 2009 – Won – BAFTA Fellowship – awarded with Jennifer Saunders[33] 2011 – Nominated – BAFTA
Best Female Performance in a Comedy Role in Roger and Val Have Just Got In

British Comedy Awards[edit]

1997 – Won – British Comedy Award
British Comedy Award
for Best TV Comedy Actress in The Vicar of Dibley 1998 – Nominated – British Comedy Award
British Comedy Award
for Best TV Comedy Actress in The Vicar of Dibley 2011 – Nominated – British Comedy Awards for Best TV Comedy Actress in Psychoville

National Television Awards[edit]

1998 – Nominated – National Television Award for Most Popular Comedy Performer in The Vicar of Dibley 2000 – Nominated – National Television Award for Most Popular Comedy Performer in The Vicar of Dibley 2002 – Nominated – National Television Award for Most Popular Comedy Performance in Ted and Alice 2003 – Nominated – National Television Award for Most Popular Comedy Performance in Wild West


1991 – Won – Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for TV- Light Entertainment in French and Saunders 2001 – Along with Jennifer Saunders, declined an OBE 2002 – Won – Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival Award shared with Jennifer Saunders 2009 – Nominated – Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production for Coraline

Filmography[edit] Television[edit]

Year Show Role Notes

1982 The Comic Strip Various Roles

1982 Five Go Mad in Dorset George

1983 Five Go Mad on Mescaline George

1982–84 The Young Ones Insane Christian Woman/Easter Bunny

1985–86 Girls on Top Amanda Ripley

1985 Happy Families Cook

1987–2007 French and Saunders Various Roles

1991–99 Murder Most Horrid W.P.C. Diane Softly Maria Judy Talent Rita Proops Bunty Bresslaw Katie Hatcliffe Sonya Redfern Anthology - a different character each episode

1992 Absolutely Fabulous Kathy Series 1, Episode 6 - "Magazine"

1993–95 The Legends of Treasure Island Jim Hawkins

1994–2007 The Vicar of Dibley Geraldine Granger Leading role; 2 series and 10 specials (20 episodes)

1997 Sex & Chocolate Bev Bodger

1999 Let Them Eat Cake Lisette

1999 to present Kipper UK Narrator Audiobooks

2000 Watership Down Buttercup Voice

2000 French and Saunders
French and Saunders
Live Various Roles

2002 Ted and Alice Alice Putkin

2002–04 Wild West Mary

2006 Agatha Christie's Marple: Sleeping Murder Janet Erskine

2006, 2008–09 Jam and Jerusalem
Jam and Jerusalem
(Clatterford in America) Rosie

2006 Dawn French's Girls Who Do Comedy Herself

Little Britain
Little Britain
Abroad Shelly Pollard

2007 High Table

The Meaning of Life

Dawn French's Boys Who Do Comedy Herself

2008, 2011 Lark Rise to Candleford Caroline Arless

2009–11 Psychoville Joy Aston

2009 The Paul O'Grady Show Guest Host

2010–12 Roger & Val Have Just Got In Val Stevenson

2012 Superstar Judge

2013 Heading Out Frances

2013–14 Australia's Got Talent Judge

2013–14 The Wrong Mans Linda Bourne

2016— Delicious[34] Gina Sky1

2017— Little Big Shots[35] Presenter ITV talent show

2017 300 Years of French and Saunders[36] Various BBC
One Christmas special


Year Production Location

1993–94 Me and Mamie O'Rourke Stand Theatre, London

When I was a Girl I used to Scream and Shout Whitehall Theatre, London

All Soul's Night Lyric Theatre, London

1996 Swan Lake

1997 Then Again

Side By Side

2001 A Midsummer Night's Dream

2003 My Brilliant Divorce Apollo Theatre, London

2005 Smaller Lyric Theatre, London

2007 La fille du régiment Royal Opera House, London

2008–09 Still Alive

2014– Thirty Million Minutes


Year Film Role Note(s)

1985 The Supergrass Andrea

1987 Eat the Rich Debbie Draws

1996 The Adventures of Pinocchio The Baker's Wife

1999 Milk Virginia

1999 David Copperfield Mrs. Crupp, landlady

2000 Maybe Baby Charlene

2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban The Fat Lady

2005 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Mrs. Beaver Voice

2006 Love and Other Disasters Therapist

2009 Coraline Miss Miriam Forcible Voice

2010 Animals United Angie Voice

2016 Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Interviewer Also executive producer



A Tiny Bit Marvellous (Penguin, 2010) Oh Dear Silvia (Penguin, 2012) According to Yes (Penguin, 2015) Me. You. A Diary (Penguin, 2017)


Dear Fatty (Arrow, 2007)


Girls on Top (with Jennifer Saunders
Jennifer Saunders
and Ruby Wax) (HarperCollins, 1986) A Feast of French and Saunders
French and Saunders
(with Jennifer Saunders) (Mandarin, 1992)


Big Knits: Bold, Beautiful, Designer Knitwear (with Sylvie Soudan) (Ebury, 1990) Great Big Knits: Over Twenty Designer Patterns (with Sylvie Soudan) (Trafalgar Square, 1993) Frigid Women by Sue and Victoria Riches (with a foreword by Dawn French) (Eye Books Direct, 1996) Cruising by Beryl Cook
Beryl Cook
(with a foreword by Dawn French) (Victor Gollancz, 2000)


^ Dawn French: "I just had a lot of fun" Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine., Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 11 May 2007. ^ Births, Marriages and Deaths Index – England & Wales ^ Carpenter, Julie (24 April 2012). "Dawn French: I've lost the mum who inspired me".  ^ a b Dawn French
Dawn French
bio dawnfrench.tripod.com; retrieved 2 June 2007. ^ a b c d e f "Farewell French and Saunders" The Times (UK). Retrieved 30 August 2007. ^ "We know how to use our mighty weight and the power of a full and voluptuous body" Daily Telegraph. (UK); retrieved 6 December 2007. ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/comedy/10828400/Dawn-French-It-was-like-a-bomb-went-off-in-our-family.html/> ^ a b c d e f g Dawn French
Dawn French
– screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 10 May 2007. ^ a b c Decca Aitkenhead, "What are you looking at?", The Guardian, 19 June 2004; retrieved 5 October 2007. ^ a b " Dawn French
Dawn French
moves to Cornwall
to die" The Times (UK); retrieved 6 December 2007. ^ "Dawn French's £1.5m memoirs" The Times (UK); retrieved 4 April 2007. ^ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/305370/me-you-a-diary/ ^ " Catherine Tate
Catherine Tate
profile" BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2007. ^ "Dibley's Farewell is ratings hit" BBC
News, 2 January 2007; retrieved 8 March 2007. ^ Weekly Viewing Summary. W.e 26/08/07 Archived 29 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine., barb.co.uk; retrieved 5 September 2007. ^ "Model Moss joins Little Britain" news.bbc.co.uk; retrieved 4 June 2007. ^ "Lark Rise To Candleford" BBC.co.uk; retrieved 30 December 2007. ^ "Sky 1 - Sky.com".  ^ "Comedian Dawn French
Dawn French
to be judge on Channel Nine revamped Australia's Got Talent
Australia's Got Talent
series", NEWS.com.au; retrieved 18 March 2013. ^ " Dawn French
Dawn French
takes Potter role", BBC
News, 10 April 2003; retrieved 23 May 2007. ^ "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe". Digital Spy. Retrieved 8 September 2007. ^ " Dawn French
Dawn French
to make opera debut", BBC
News, 19 December 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2007. ^ “Age-ulator app” Retrieved on iPhone 6plus 22 October 2014 ^ The hard sell" The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2007. ^ Daniel Kilkelly, " Dawn French
Dawn French
dropped from chocolate ads" Digital Spy, 30 August 2007; retrieved 6 September 2007. ^ a b c "Dawn French: The French connection"[dead link] The Independent (UK). Retrieved 13 December 2007. ^ " Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry
and Dawn French
Dawn French
split". BBC. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.  ^ a b "Comedian Dawn French
Dawn French
marries for second time". BBC
Online. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.  ^ " Dawn French
Dawn French
named as Falmouth University
Falmouth University
chancellor", BBC
News – Cornwall, 23 September 2014. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (14 February 2010). "Parties in pre-election battle to sign up stars". The Guardian. London, UK.  ^ "David Beckham, Dawn French
Dawn French
named top idols", Digital Spy. Retrieved 8 September 2007. ^ Woman's Hour
Woman's Hour
Power list, BBC
Radio 4. ^ British Academy of Film and Television Arts Fellowship, presented on Sunday 26 April 2009, bafta.org; accessed 25 June 2014. Archived 24 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Emilia Fox joins Dawn French's Delicious drama". 4 August 2016 – via www.bbc.co.uk.  ^ Guide, British Comedy (25 August 2016). " Dawn French
Dawn French
to host new ITV entertainment series".  ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2017/09/19/french-saunders-reunite-bbc-christmas-special/

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dawn French.

Dawn French
Dawn French
on IMDb Biography at the Museum of Broadcast Communications French and Saunders

v t e

The Comic Strip

Ade Edmondson Rik Mayall Nigel Planer Peter Richardson Dawn French Jennifer Saunders Alexei Sayle Keith Allen Robbie Coltrane Pete Richens

Select episodes and films

Five Go Mad in Dorset The Bullshitters: Roll Out The Gunbarrel The Supergrass Eat the Rich The Strike Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door The Yob Didn't You Kill My Brother? South Atlantic Raiders GLC: The Carnage Continues... The Pope Must Die Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown Churchill: The Hollywood Years The Hunt for Tony Blair

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Bad News (album) Bootleg

20th Century Coyote French and Saunders

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 81428817 LCCN: n91123764 ISNI: 0000 0001 2018 4175 GND: 137205139 SUDOC: 139879404 BNF: cb1406