Dawn French speaks of friend and co-star Emma Chambers following her shock death

Dawn French has paid tribute to her friend and Vicar of Dibley co-star Emma Chambers, following the actor's sad passing last month.

Emma, who died of a heart attack aged just 53 in February, worked with the much-loved comic on the BBC sitcom for 13 years.

And opening up about her friend’s death, 60-year old Dawn confessed: “I’ll miss her very much.”

Talking to variety performer La Voix at Brasserie Zedel in London this week, Dawn praised her former co-star as  ‘massively professional’.

She added: “Every single time I worked with Emma she was in character properly.

“She understood Alice was not somebody who was just completely dim, she was someone different, she thought differently and had the most wonderful naivety, while still being very cheeky.”

MORE: Dawn French on the impact of her father’s death

Dawn, who played the vicar Geraldine Granger, also recalled one of Alice’s most well-known and funniest scenes on the show – her I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter speech.

“She had to learn it a week beforehand and do it again and again and again. But when it came to the day, she did it straight away, word perfectly.

“It’s a speech that if you don’t put the emphasis on the right word, the joke is lost, so she just was genius, absolutely genius, at it.”

The actress led tributes when Emma’s death was announced, posting a picture of her and Emma on twitter saying: “I was regularly humped like this by the unique & beautiful spark that was Emma Chambers. I never minded. I loved her. A lot.”

Dawn isn’t the only co-star to have paid tribute to Emma following her passing.

Hugh Grant, who starred with her in Notting Hill, said he would remember her as “a hilarious and very warm person”.

Meanwhile, writer Emma Freud said: “She was a great, great comedy performer, and a truly fine actress, and a tender, sweet, funny, unusual, loving human being.”

Emma’s funeral will be held this month, with her family confirming the star will be given a private ceremony.

Words: Sarah Finley

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