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dawn french spindle magazine

Dawn French’s Best Moments

Monday 24 February 2014

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The great Dawn French announced today that she will tour the UK in a one-woman show she describes as “somewhere between a monologue, a play, and an autobiographical slide show with a few funnies thrown in.”

Once the paramedics got our hearts started again, we began to think about exactly what Ms. French would put into her show – titled 30 Million Minutes – seeing as her accomplishments as a comedian, writer, actor, author and memoirist couldn’t possibly fit into your standard show length. Take a look below at Spindle’s highlights from Dawn French’s illustrious career and remind yourself why you definitely need to get tickets for this show:

‘Dickens Daughters’ – Shakespears Sister Parody

Dawn and her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders are probably most famous for their spot-on movie and music parodies – and probably their best remembered is their take on the iconic video for Shakespears Sister’s Stay. As the original song and video were so singular, it seemed almost parody-proof – until French and Saunders got their hands on it, dressed Dawn in a bin liner with a tinsel crown and had she and Jen play-fight on a double bed. This must be seen to be believed, though I’d say it’s less bonkers than the original video. Shakespears Sister vocalist Marcella Detroit didn’t seem to mind though, as she later made an appearance on Saunders’ show Absolutely Fabulous in 1996.

The Vicar Of Dibley – Four Christmas Dinners

In this 90s BBC sitcom Dawn played Geraldine Granger, a female vicar sent to a sleepy countryside parish. Female priests were a hot-button issue at the time, and this fish out of water story of a cheerful vicar trying to navigate the hostility and stupidity of village politics was a huge hit.

Now we know we’re meant to show the clip of Dawn falling into the big puddle, but frankly the physical comedy of this attempt to stuff down four Christmas lunches in one day is a personal highlight of the series.

French and Saunders – Silence of the Lambs

Without a doubt French and Saunders’ most fondly remembered movie parody is this one – I don’t think anyone before or since has done such an accurate impression of Jodie Foster as Jennifer Saunders does here. The biggest laughs, of course, go to Dawn as a portly, female version of Hannibal Lecter, aided by a terrific script that is at once faithfully recreated while also being utterly, utterly silly.

“I want a view, Jennifer. I want to see trees and some grass. Yes. I want a dressing room that overlooks the Blue Peter garden.”

Wild Wild West – Mary

This curio ran for two series on BBC One and starred Dawn and Catherine Tate as lesbian (lesbean) Cornish shopkeepers Mary and Angela. At the time this oddball show about the eccentricities of Cornwall village life wasn’t too well received with critics or viewers, but its retro-raves are legion – to see why, check out the video to see Dawn trying to put out a fire by telling it to shutup.

Roger & Val Have Just Got In – Val


Probably the crowning achievement of Dawn’s acting career has been this comedy-drama in which she co-stars with Alfred Molina. The show takes place in real time in the 30 minutes after middle-aged married couple Roger and Val have just returned from work – and that’s it; just the two of them, in their house, working through the mundanities of life while masking past trauma that lurks just beneath the surface. It’s a joy to watch these two masters at work, and a reminder that Dawn is much more than just the fat one from French and Saunders.

Tickets for 30 Million Minutes go on sale at 9am on Friday 28th February. Dates are:

5-8 – Sheffield, Lyceum
10-12 – Glasgow, Pavilion
13 – Derby, Assembly Rooms
14 – Buxton, Opera House
15-16 – Llandudno, Venue Cymru
18-20 – Birmingham, New Alexandra
25-28 – Brighton, Theatre Royal
29 – Plymouth, Theatre Royal

2-6 – Bradford, Alhambra
9-13 – Dublin, Olympia
16-20 – Cardiff, New Theatre
23-24 – Crawley, Hawth
25-27 – Reading, Hexagon
30-August 2 – Dartford, Orchard

Words: Thomas Dearnley-Davison