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Dawn French quit iconic French & Saunders after 'humiliating' sketch left her 'crying all the way home'

Britt Jones

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Dawn French quit iconic French & Saunders after 'humiliating' sketch left her 'crying all the way home'

Featured Image Credit: BBC

French & Saunders was a pivotal moment on television for women in comedy and women in general.

It was a sketch show in the 1980s starring Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders which saw the duo taking on hilarious subjects and making fun of pop culture.

However, there was one moment which left The Vicar Of Dibley star ‘humiliated’ and in tears, leading to her exit from the show.

Now, Dawn has revealed which skit it was that led her to leave.

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The 66-year-old shared that it was a 2008 scene with singer Anastacia which forced her into being the butt of the joke, which left her weeping.

Speaking in a new BBC documentary about hers and Jennifer’s career, she spoke about how the show's costume designer 'fell on her back laughing' when she was dressed as the singer during the skit.

French & Saunders hit the small screen in 1987. Credit: BBC
French & Saunders hit the small screen in 1987. Credit: BBC
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She said: “I looked in the mirror and I thought, ‘Yes, this isn't it, this isn't what Anastacia looks like’ But instead of finding it funny, I just thought ‘Oh I don't like it.’”

Dawn added: “It just felt like I wasn't in control of the comedy. The joke was on me. I hadn't controlled it in any way.”

Jennifer hasn’t heard about this story before and said: “[I] didn't realise it was so dramatic that you decided to end the whole act.”

Dawn explained: “I hated everything about the day and I said I'm never going to do that again. I'm never going to feel humiliated like that again.

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“I could've just been hormonal, but I just hated it, and I hadn't ever hated it.”

But as Dawn is now planning on returning to the small screen, she went on to talk on Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC, about how she hopes that her show will air in 2024 or early 2025.

Known for their jokes about pop culture, the pair were celebrated for their quick wit. Credit: BBC
Known for their jokes about pop culture, the pair were celebrated for their quick wit. Credit: BBC

With a renewed vow to 'fight for people to be as offensive as they want to be,' Dawn said: “There are plans afoot. I can't tell you too much about it at the moment. But at the end of next year or beginning of the following year there will be a sitcom and I will be in it.”

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The actress went on to talk about how times have changed in the comedy scene from when she first began her career with Jennifer.

She said: “I remember Jennifer telling me how difficult it was to get Absolutely Fabulous off the ground, because her characters were smoking, drinking, and falling over and being complete eejits.

“But you know, it all seems so mild now… Let's be inappropriate, let's wear purple, let's just push the edges a little bit and laugh at ourselves when we get it a bit wrong.”

However, she was adamant that comedy today has ‘everything for everyone’ and that everyone knows when a joke has gone too far.

Topics: BBC, Entertainment, News, TV And Film, Celebrity

Britt Jones
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