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French and Saunders

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Created by
Dawn FrenchJennifer Saunders

British Academy Television Craft Award for Best Make up and Hair Design

Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Kathy Burke, David Walliams, Rupert Penry‑Jones


French and Saunders is a British sketch comedy television series written by and starring comic duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. It is also the name by which the performers are known on the occasions when they appear elsewhere as a double act.


French and Saunders BBC Radio 2 French and Saunders

Widely popular in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the show was given one of the highest budgets in BBC history to create detailed spoofs and satires of popular culture, movies, celebrities and art. The duo continue to film holiday specials for the BBC, and both have been successful starring in their own shows.

French and Saunders A little bit more French and Saunders Jennifer says BBC can39t

Saunders won a BAFTA, an Emmy Award and international acclaim for writing and playing the lead role of Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous, which also led to cameo roles in the American sitcoms Roseanne and Friends. She won an American People's Choice Award for voicing the wicked Fairy Godmother in the DreamWorks animated film Shrek 2, but more recently she has written and starred in another two BBC sitcoms, Jam and Jerusalem and The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle. Her other work includes being the face of Barclays Bank and BBC America.

French and Saunders French amp Saunders tickets concerts tour dates upcoming gigs

Meanwhile, French starred in the highly successful sitcom The Vicar of Dibley which received great critical acclaim as well as numerous holiday specials and future airplay, achieving cult status. She also starred in three series of the comedy show Murder Most Horrid. She had a voice over role as Mrs. Beaver in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but more recently she has starred in Jam and Jerusalem, written by Saunders, and Lark Rise to Candleford, of which the fourth series has just been commissioned. For many years she became popular for her appearances in the Terry's Chocolate Orange adverts saying the famous line "It's not Terry's, it's mine!" and is currently the voice of W H Smith and Tesco adverts. She recently released her autobiography Dear Fatty, referring to Saunders, to whom she gave the nickname "Fatty".

French and Saunders French and Saunders Wikipedia

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, the duo were voted among the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. Their last special, 2005's French and Saunders Christmas Celebrity Special, aired on 27 December 2005 on BBC One. In 2006, both Saunders and French announced that their sketch show was now dead, and that they had moved on to more age appropriate material. Their last ever concert, and last ever performing as a duo act, Still Alive tour ran until the end of 2008, and then resumed in Australia in the summer of 2009.

French and Saunders French and saunders outtakes YouTube

In 2009, they were jointly awarded the BAFTA Fellowship.

Early years (1978–1987)

French and Saunders French and Saunders to reunite Latest celebrity news hellomagazinecom

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders met in 1978 while attending the Central School of Speech and Drama and began their career to collaborate on several comedy projects. They came to prominence in the early 1980s for performing at the London comedy club The Comic Strip, which also gave its name to its eponymous television series and the informal grouping of so-called alternative comedians. French and Saunders were featured on the live comedy album of The Comic Strip recorded by comedy entrepreneur Martin Lewis for his Springtime! label and was released in 1981. The duo made their first mainstream television appearance in the sketch comedy show The Comic Strip Presents..., where they appeared in approximately 30 episodes each as well as writing material for the show.

French and Saunders began to establish themselves in what was referred to as the "underground comedy" scene, along with many other prolific actors and comedians whom they would go on to work with for the next twenty-plus years. In 1983, they starred in an edition of Channel 4's series The Entertainers, and went on to appear as comedy relief on the weekly music programme The Tube on the same channel, for which French received her honour of being the first person to use the word "blowjob" on British television. In 1985, French and Saunders collaborated on their programme Girls on Top, which they once again wrote and starred in. Co-stars Tracey Ullman and Ruby Wax rounded out a set of four oddball roommates, and the show ran for two years. In 1986, French and Saunders made their first of many appearances on Comic Relief, and they signed a long-term contract with the BBC.

French and Saunders (1987–2007)

In 1987, French and Saunders created their eponymous sketch show, which has carried over six seasons up until 2007. Their show began humbly, but immediately established its own niche as a spoof on other types of shows. In the first season, it was intentionally set up to look like a low-budget variety show in which the duo were constantly attempting grandiose stunts and often failing miserably. Often a "famous" guest star would be brought on then treated badly. Also featured during this season was a set of geriatric dancers and a bongos/keyboard music duo called Raw Sex, actually long-time collaborators Simon Brint and Rowland Rivron and the vocal talents of Kirsty MacColl.

As their show progressed and ratings skyrocketed, French and Saunders received higher and higher budgets with which to create elaborate parodies of mainstream culture. These ranged anywhere from recreations of films (Thelma & Louise, Misery, Titanic, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) to spoofs on popular music artists (Madonna, Bananarama, ABBA and The Corrs being favourites). Certain spoken phrases and sight gags that referenced previously performed sketches (often from years before) were incorporated for loyal fans. In particular there is a running gag suggesting that French and Saunders are unable to accurately affect accents; this first appeared in their spoof of Gone with the Wind when they break their character in the middle of an elaborate and expensive parody to argue about the authenticity of their Southern accent. Saunders goads French to try the accent by saying: "How are you?", and French responds with an interpretation sounding more like a strong Northern Irish accent. Since then, the duo often break character in the middle of elaborate sketches to do an "accent check" and repeat these lines.

The show also contained numerous meta references: an awareness that the viewer was actually watching a parody. Unlike many parodies that are done in a straightforward manner for effect, French and Saunders uses the viewer's awareness of what is going on to further stretch out the joke. For example, in their parody of Peter Jackson's fantasy film epic The Lord of the Rings, an encounter between Frodo and Galadriel are thrown off when Saunders delivers her line: "I have passed the test, and now I will diminish, and go to the West and remain Galadriel", in which French responds: "You will what, sorry?", and Saunders replies: "I will diminish... I don't understand, it's in the book". Other characters that make a recurring appearance are the bald, fat, perverted old men ("Begging for it, she is!"); Star Test (most memorable character is Sonia, played by French: "What car do you drive?" "Brookside"); and Out and About ("I bet she dos [sic] tricks").

BBC Radio 2 (2010–present)

In Christmas 2010, French and Saunders are featured in three two-hours radio shows on BBC Radio 2. This was followed by further specials in 2011 for Easter and the Bank Holidays.

Series 1 – 1987

Other appearances and work

  • 1987 – Alison Moyet – Love Letters (promo video – F&S appearance)
  • 1988 – Comic Relief
  • Series 2 – 1988

    Other appearances and work

  • 1988 – Jim Henson's The Storyteller – the bad sisters in Sapsorrow
  • 1988 – Christmas Special 28 December 1988 (Kathy Burke, Harriet Thorpe) (40 min)
  • 1989 – Hysteria 2 (live appearance C4 (Tiger Television), Standup/sketch, colour, 1989
  • 1989 – Bananarama & Lananeeneenoonoo – Help! Promo video (Comic Relief single)
  • 1989 – Bananarama & Lananeeneenoonoo – Help! Comic Relief '88 Live performance
  • 1989 – Comic Relief 2: A Night of Comic Relief 2
  • 1989 – The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball – ITV (Central), Standup/sketch
  • Series 3 – 1990

    Other appearances and work

  • 1990 Little Pig Robinson (Beatrix Potter)
  • 1990 – French and Saunders Live! (1990 Tour) Home video release (non-BBC)
  • 1991 – Comic Relief '91: F&S and Birds of a Feather – Mistaken Identity
  • 1991 – Hysteria III (UK, C4 (Noel Gay Television), Standup/sketch, colour)
  • 1991 – Amnesty International's Big 30 (ITV (Working Title Television for Central), Standup/sketch
  • 1993 – Comic Relief' 93: Total Relief
  • Series 4 – 1993

    Other appearances and work

  • 1994 – Christmas Special 30 December 1994 (Adrian Edmondson, Chris Ryan, Harriet Thorpe, Richard Briers) (40 min)
  • 1994 – Dusty Springfield – Full Circle (BBC Interview/Documentary)
  • 1994 – Alison Moyet – Whispering Your Name (promo video – Dawn appearance)
  • 1995 – Comic Relief '95: The Night of Comic Relief (BBC, Sketch/standup)
  • Dawn, a parody of Oprah-style chat-shows featuring Dawn French and Victoria Wood/ F&S Sketch

    Series 5 – 1996

    Other appearances and work

  • 1997 – Spice Girls & The Sugar Lumps – Who Do You Think You Are – Promo video (Comic Relief)
  • 1997 – Comic Relief '97
  • Series 7 – A Bucket o' French and Saunders 2007

  • A Bucket O' French and Saunders was shown from 7 September till 5 October (the sixth episode not being shown). The series was shown as a retrospective, showing 20 years of the French and Saunders sketch show. The older material was interspersed with new sketches, which had been recorded in June 2007 at BBC Television Centre. New material included parodies of America's Next Top Model, The Apprentice, Gordon Ramsay's The F-Word, The Academy Awards (featuring a cameo appearance by Dame Helen Mirren), X Factor, Big Brother, Fame Academy and a parody of disgraced celebrities Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears.
  • Special episodes

  • 1988 – Christmas Special – A French and Saunders Christmas Story (28 December 1988)
  • 1994 – Christmas Special – French and Saunders Christmas Carol (30 December 1994)
  • 1995 - Easter Specials - "French And Saunders Go To The Movies" 2 Part compilation series. (31 March 1995)
  • 1998 – Christmas Special – The Making of: The Filming of: The Making of: Titanic (26 December 1998 - 30mins) (viewers: 10.30 million)
  • 1999 – Bank Holiday Special – Witless Silence/F&S TV – Home Shopping Network (2 May 1999 - 30mins)
  • 1999 – Christmas Special – French and Saunders: The Phantom Millennium (28 December 1999 - 30mins) (viewers: 8.10 million)
  • 2000 – Comic Relief Special (Video Only) – The Extras On Doctor Who (unaired extended sketch recorded 13 years previously for series 1 episode 6 and eventually released as a short special as part of the Doctor Who Comic Relief video compilation)
  • 2002 – Easter Special – The Egg (29 March 2002) (viewers: 6.05 million)
  • 2002 – Christmas Special – Celebrity Christmas Puddings (25 December 2002) (viewers: 8.42 million)
  • 2003 – Comic Relief Special – Harry Potter and The Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan
  • 2003 – Christmas Special – French and Saunders: Actually (26 December 2003)
  • 2005 – Christmas Special – French and Saunders Celebrity Christmas Special (27 December 2005) (viewers: 6.06 million)
  • 2009 – Comic Relief Special – Gimme, Gimme, Gimmick (Mamma Mia: The Movie) (Last official sketch under the brand of "French and Saunders") (13 March 2009)
  • Live shows

    French and Saunders began what was announced as their final tour at Blackpool Opera House on 29 February 2008 in the UK. The first leg of the show concluded in May 2008, before moving to Australia. The tour ended 9 November, in London. Previously they have toured their comedy act / sketch show very rarely, with UK tours in 1990 & 2000. The tour contained a selection of their favourite sketches, as well as new material written specifically for the show. The tour was directed by Hamish McColl, set design by Lez Brotherstone, lighting, video and visual effects by Willie Williams.

  • Live 1990
  • Live in 2000
  • French and Saunders: Still Alive! The Farewell Tour
  • Recurring characters

  • The Extras: who are always trying to upstage the actors in whatever they're in.
  • Dot and May: Two farm workers who are owners of ever-failing questionable enterprises including; 'Star Pets', 'Star Vegetables', 'Prickly Pear Park' and 'Pet Cemetery'.
  • Junior and Emma: Public school girls who have been abandoned by their parents and stay at school during the holidays.
  • Jim & Jim – Dirty Old Men: Whether at the pub, in front of the telly, or trying out for panto, they think they're God's gift to women and sexually harass any woman they meet.
  • The Fat Women Aristocrats: Living in a country house, they spend their days at the races, drinking whiskey, getting severe injuries and brushing them off as minor incidents. They also insult anybody who interferes in their business.
  • Madonna: is often mentioned in the shows but infrequently parodied apart from a mockumentary ('In Bed With Madonna') and skits such as Mother Madonna and Muscly Madonna.
  • Jackie and Leanne: Young women who are drama queens and are obsessed with catalogue shopping. They also put too much effort into organising a wedding or holiday.
  • Lananeeneenoonoo: are a parody of Bananarama they've done on the show as well as live on Comic Relief.
  • Dancers: they try out different dancing styles (Irish jig, Flappers, 90's Clubbers, 60's Disco, 50's sock hoppers) the dancing always goes wrong in the end.
  • Mother and Daughter: they take turns playing each, the daughter always gets into trouble or a dispute with her mother.
  • Special Effects Specialists: who excel in making the worst props ever used in such big budget parodies as Titanic, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Troy.
  • TV Host & Expert: one natters on with vapid introductions, transitions and interviews; while the other spouts off pointless expertise showing them to be completely clueless.
  • Daniel & Terry: chain-smoking, bitchy, camp hairdressers to the stars.
  • Elizabethan Women: Two women who are unhygienic and enjoy living a backwards peasant way of life. They either cook disgusting recipes using urine or go to the bar and gossip about the locals.
  • White Room: usually as themselves (Dawn & Jennifer) in a white living room; Dawn always enters with an outrageous assertion about herself, while Jennifer usually sits on the sofa and makes her feel unwelcome.
  • Featuring French and Saunders

  • The Comic Strip Presents (1982–2012)
  • Happy Families (1985)
  • Girls on Top (1985–1986)
  • Let Them Eat Cake (1999)
  • Jam & Jerusalem (2006–2009)
  • Coraline (2009)
  • Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)
  • Featuring French

  • Murder Most Horrid (1991–1999)
  • The Vicar of Dibley (1994–2007)
  • Wild West (2002–2004)
  • Lark Rise to Candleford (2008–2011)
  • Psychoville (2009–2011)
  • Roger and Val Have Just Got In (2010–2012)
  • The Wrong Mans (2013–2014)
  • Featuring Saunders

  • Absolutely Fabulous (1992–2012)
  • Mirrorball (2000)
  • The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle (2007)
  • Dead Boss (2012)
  • Blandings (2013–)
  • UK video

  • French and Saunders The Video (Best of Series 1 & 2) (1990)
  • French and Saunders Live (4 Front Video) (1991)
  • French and Saunders Series 3 (1993)
  • French and Saunders at the Movies (Best of Series 4) (1994)
  • UK DVD

  • French and Saunders Live (Universal) (2001)
  • The Best of French and Saunders (or Gentlemen Prefer French and Saunders) (2002)
  • French and Saunders at the Movies (also includes the 1999 Christmas Special) (2005)
  • French and Saunders: Complete Series 1–6 (2008)
  • French and Saunders: Still Alive (2008)
  • USA video

  • French and Saunders At The Movies (1997)
  • Gentlemen Prefer French and Saunders (1997)
  • French and Saunders Ingenue Years (1998)
  • French and Saunders Living In A Material World (1998)

  • Gentlemen Prefer French and Saunders (2002)
  • French and Saunders At The Movies (2002)
  • French and Saunders The Ingenue Years (2003)
  • French and Saunders Living In A Material World (2003)
  • French and Saunders On The Rocks (2005)
  • French and Saunders Back With A Vengeance (2005)
  • Australian video

  • French and Saunders: Series 3 – Complete and Un-edited(ish) – (Part One) (1993)
  • French and Saunders: The Best of Series 4 (1994)
  • French and Saunders: Series 3 – Complete and Un-edited(ish) – (Part Two) (1996)
  • French and Saunders: Live (2002)
  • Australian DVD

  • French and Saunders: Live (2003)
  • French and Saunders At The Movies (with 1999 Christmas Special) (2005)
  • BBC Presents "The Best of: French and Saunders" (2005)
  • French and Saunders: Complete Series 1–6 (2008)
  • French and Saunders: Still Alive – The Farewell Tour (2008)
  • French And Saunders: Series One Episodes 1–3 (Comedy Bites) (4 March 2010)
  • Dawn French Bundle (2011)
  • References

    French and Saunders Wikipedia

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