Dawn French

Last updated on the 26 March 2024 by Evandrus

Dawn French headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 11 October 1957, Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales. 

Dawn French’s early life was shaped by a close-knit family and a passion for performing. She attended Caistor Grammar School and Plymouth College, where her talent for comedy shone through. After completing her A-levels, she enrolled at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where she met fellow aspiring comedian Jennifer Saunders.

Their paths intertwined in 1981 when they joined the Comedy Store, a London-based comedy club that launched their careers. Together, they formed the comedic duo French and Saunders, which quickly gained recognition for their sharp wit, irreverent humour, and fearless parodies of popular culture and celebrities. Their sketch show, French and Saunders, which ran from 1987 to 2007, became a cultural phenomenon, captivating audiences with its innovative humour and fearless social commentary.

French’s individual star continued to rise, particularly with her portrayal of the quirky but lovable Geraldine Granger in the BBC sitcom “The Vicar of Dibley” (1994-2007). The show’s success cemented her status as a national treasure, earning her numerous accolades, including a BAFTA Fellowship in 2009.

Beyond comedy, French has established herself as a versatile performer, venturing into television roles, films, and theatre productions. She has starred in critically acclaimed films such as “Saving Grace” (2000) and “Calendar Girls” (2003), and her stage credits include the critically acclaimed West End production of “The Priory” (2011).

French’s personal life has been marked by both joy and sadness. She married comedian Lenny Henry in 1984, and their daughter, Billie, was born in 1991. The couple divorced in 2010, though they remain close friends.

Throughout her career, French has championed body positivity and challenged societal norms. She has spoken openly about her experience with body image issues, encouraging others to embrace their bodies and defy stereotypes. Her advocacy has inspired countless women to embrace their individuality and self-worth.

Dawn French’s legacy extends far beyond the realm of entertainment. She is a role model for countless individuals, inspiring them with her talent, resilience, and unwavering commitment to promoting kindness and self-acceptance. Her journey from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of British comedy is a testament to her determination, her ability to connect with audiences, and her unwavering belief in the power of laughter to unite and transform lives.

 

Suggested viewing

 

French and Saunders (1987)

French and Saunders poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.6

With their razor-sharp wit, masterful comedic timing, and fearless brand of satire, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have established themselves as one of the most iconic comedy duos in British television history. Their sketch show, French and Saunders, broke new ground, fearlessly spoofing popular culture, celebrities, and social norms, leaving a lasting legacy of laughter and cultural commentary.

Top cast: Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Adrian Edmondson, Julia Sawalha, Kathy Burke, Lulu, Jane Horrocks.

Roger & Val Have Just Got In (2010)

Roger & Val Have Just Got In poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

As long-married couple Roger and Val return home from work each day, their lives unfold in the intimate half-hour following their arrival. Their mundane existence is punctuated by relatable moments of humour, tension, and heartwarming connection, offering a glimpse into the ordinary yet extraordinary dynamics of their relationship.

Top cast: Alfred Molina, Dawn French, Sarah Alexander, Vincent Franklin, Jasmine Hyde, Neil Edmond, Joanna Scanlan, Jason Watkins. 

The Comic Strip Presents… (1982)

The Comic Strip Presents...

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.8

From parodying Enid Blyton’s Famous Five to satirising the Falklands War, The Comic Strip Presents… revolutionised British comedy with its sharp wit, fearless parodies, and ensemble of talented comedians. Through self-contained episodes, the series deftly tackled social issues, political commentary, and popular culture, leaving a lasting impact on British comedy.

Top cast: Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Robbie Coltrane, Keith Allen, Alexei Sayle, Kathy Burke. 

Jam & Jerusalem (2006)

Jam & Jerusalem poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.7

In the quaint, fictional village of Clatterford St. Mary, the Women’s Guild, a group of eccentric and endearing ladies, face the challenges and joys of village life. Their well-intentioned efforts to preserve their community’s traditions often lead to hilarious mishaps and heartwarming moments, showcasing the power of female friendship and the enduring spirit of small-town life.

Top cast: Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Sue Johnston, Joanna Lumley, Maggie Steed, Pauline McLynn, David Mitchell, Sally Phillips. 

The Vicar of Dibley (1994)

The Vicar of Dibley poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 8.0

In the sleepy Oxfordshire village of Dibley, a young, unconventional vicar named Geraldine Granger arrives, shaking up the traditional norms of the community. Despite initial resistance from the conservative villagers, Geraldine’s infectious enthusiasm and unwavering kindness gradually win over hearts, transforming Dibley into a place of unexpected love and laughter.

Top cast: Dawn French, Emma Chambers, Gary Waldhorn, James Fleet, Liz Smith, Trevor Peacock, Roger Lloyd-Pack, John Bluthal. 

Full filmography (@Wikipedia)

 

Dawn French Gallery

 

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