Dawn French (1957 to present) Actress & Comedienne
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||Dawn Roma French was born in Holyhead, Anglesey, on 11th October 1957. She was educated at the independent St Dunstan's Abbey boarding school on North Road West in Plymouth, Devon. Her father, Denys, was a member of the Royal Air Force, being stationed at RAF Valley and the RAF partly funded Dawn's private education. Her father committed suicide when Dawn was 19. Dawn went on to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1977, where she met her future comedy partner, Jennifer Saunders. Both of them had came from RAF backgrounds and had grown up on the same base, without ever meeting.
Dawn and Jennifer shared a flat whilst at college and were influenced to do comedy by their flatmates as part of their college projects. French and Saunders eventually came to the attention of the public as members of The Comic Strip, a part of the alternative comedy scene in the early 1980s.
Dawn wrote a best-selling autobiography, entitled Dear Fatty. Dawn has had an extensive career on television, starting with an episode of Channel 4's The Comic Strip Presents called "Five Go Mad in Dorset" in 1982. She went on to act in 27 of the 37 episodes including two of them that she wrote. In 1985, she starred with Jennifer Saunders, Tracey Ullman and Ruby Wax in Girls on Top. Dawn co-wrote and starred in her own successful comedy series French & Saunders with Jennifer Saunders, which was first shown in 1987. She starred in in Murder Most Horrid from 1991 to 1999. In this she played a different character each week, whether it was the murderer, victim or even both. She has also appeared in the BBC sitcom Wild West alongside Catherine Tate.
Dawn French's biggest solo television role to date has been as Geraldine Grainger, a vicar of a small village called Dibley, in The Vicar of Dibley, created specifically for her by Richard Curtis. Dawn won the 1997 British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Actress in The Vicar of Dibley. In 2009 she was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship, jointly with Jennifer Saunders.
In films Dawn played The Fat Lady in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and provided the voice for the character Mrs Beaver in the film adaptation of C S Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. She played a major role in the television series Jam & Jerusalem. She appeared as Caroline Arless in the BBC television drama Lark Rise to Candleford in 2008.
Dawn married the comedian Lenny Henry on 20th October 1984 in Covent Garden, London. They adopted a daughter, Billie. The couple had a home in Shinfield, near Reading, Berkshire which they sold in 2007 to buy a 19th century 40 room mansion in Cornwall, where Dawn intends to spend the rest of her life. On 6th April 2010, it was announced that Dawn and Lenny were to separate after 25 years of marriage. Their divorce was finalised in late October 2010. Dawn is still living in Cornwall.
She married Mark Bignell at the Scarlet Hotel, Mawgan Porth, near Newquay in April 2013. Mark is the chief executive of the Plymouth-based Hamoaze House charity, founded by Dawn's late mother, which helps recovering drug and alcohol abusers reintegrate into society.
Along with Helen Teague, Dawn founded the Sixteen 47 clothes shop for large women between sizes 16 and 47.
In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. In March 2013, Dawn French became one of the four judges on the seventh series of Nine Network's Australia's Got Talent.
Dawn was installed as chancellor of Falmouth University in a ceremony on Thursday March 26th 2015 and on 1st April 2015 Dawn was featured alongside her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders on a commemorative stamp in a new collection, First Class Comedy Acts, to mark April Fool's Day.