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Dawn French

Dawn French was born on October 11, 1957 in Holyhead, Wales. She speaks fondly of her family and childhood, "Everything my parents did, they did with such love and such care.... It was my father who taught me to value myself", she says proudly. "He told me that I was uncommonly beautiful and that I was the most precious thing in his life."

When she was 11 Dawn went to a weekly boarding school in Plymouth, partly funded by the RAF in which her father served. Dawn has since said that she never fitted in with any of her school friends, who were all from wealthy, upper-class families. Nevertheless she won a debating scholarship to study in New York after leaving school and then went on to train to be a drama teacher at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, where she met Jennifer Saunders.

This led onto one of the most successful partnerships in British comedy today; French and Saunders.

Although the majority of Dawn French’s career in television comedy has been alongside Jennifer Saunders, at the beginning of the 1990’s they began to also branch off and work on individual projects. Jennifer created and starred in the critically acclaimed sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, while Dawn was offered the lead in comedy drama series Murder Most Horrid, and later the hit comedy by Richard Curtis; The Vicar of Dibley. Aside from these, Dawn has worked on a variety of advertising campaigns and is currently the face of television adverts for Terry’s Chocolate Orange. She features on a number of spoken word audio cassettes reading children’s stories, notably for Mick Inkpen’s Kipper series.

She has made guest appearances on a number of talk shows as an individual performer, from Late Lunch and TGI Friday to Parkinson, and cameoed in a variety of programmes from Harry Enfield and Chums, to Lenny’s Amazon Adventure.

She presented two series of programmes for Channel 4 - Swank (1987) and Scoff (1988), which respectively looked at various aspects of the fashion and food industry.

Dawn has been interested in promoting the issue of Big Being Beautiful and has produced two knitting pattern books; Big Knits, and Great Big Knits with designer Sylvie Soudan. She now has a significant role in the managing of her fashion business for ‘big girls’, Sixteen47, and their designer range French and Teague.

She has starred in a few BBC Screen One dramas; Tender Loving Care (1993) in which she featured as a psychiatric nurse prone to knocking off the awkward patients; and Sex and Chocolate (1997),where she played a bored housewife tempted to rekindle her relationship with an old flame.

Family Life
Dawn lives with her husband Lenny Henry and their daughter in Berkshire.

Despite their obvious fame and fortune, Dawn and her family try to live a normal, stable life. 'Instead of going to the opening of the new Power Rangers Movie, we pay our £3, go to the cinema locally, buy a pizza afterwards and have a nice time together as a family. There's really no contest.'

While she was first going out with Lenny, his mum tested Dawn by piling Jamaican food on her plate. 'If I could get through it, then I was in the family' Dawn recalls. They were engaged in 1983 and married a year later.

Dawn and Lenny share an off-the-wall sense of humour, commitment to their work, self confidence and a high respect for each other.

Thanks to Caroline for giving permission to use information featured in Dawn French Online. Click here to visit the site!