Dawn French is in a good place and it shows inside and out. She has the most ridiculously glossy hair imaginable, runs around the room acting out stories and characters, gossips constantly and laughs easily. It can’t be easy being on show your whole life, warts and all, and making it funny at the same time. But she has made a hell of a career out of it.
If anything, she’s been busier in the past ten years than when she was permanently on television as the Vicar of Dibley or in French and Saunders, reinventing herself in the fifties as a best-selling novelist. And if that wasn’t enough last year, she set herself the challenge of her first solo show, 30 Million Minutes, which opened to rave reviews, and is currently touring the UK, and takes on Australia and New Zealand next year.
Raised in Cornwall and Devon, Dawn has been nominated for a BAFTA seven times and won a BAFTA Fellowship with Jennifer Saunders in 2009. She even pops up in the Harry Potter films (as the Fat Lady in The Prisoner of Azkaban).
After the success of her autobiography, Dear Fatty (addressed to best friend Jennifer Saunders), which sold more than a million copies, and her novels A Tiny Bit Marvellous and Oh Dear Silvia, she has turned to New York for inspiration for her latest book, According to Yes. It’s about Rosie, a salt-of-the-earth woman who escapes a disappointing life in Cornwall to work in Manhattan as a nanny for an extremely dysfunctiona; family – with hilarious consequences.
Looking relaxed and happy, Dawn brought her favourite dress to the woman&home shoot. Well, her second favourite dress. It’s a copy of the one she wore to marry charity worker Mark Bignell in 2013. They live in Fowey, Cornwall, and have three children, two from his previous marriage, and Dawn’s daughter Billie, 23, whom she adopted with her first husband, comedian Lenny Henry.
Watch w&h’s exclusive video behind-the-scenes of our photoshoot and discover 5 things our cover star would tell her younger self…