'I've always thought that I wouldn't make old bones': Dawn French on the impact of her father's death

In a new podcast, comedian Dawn French has candidly opened up about the impact her father's death has had on her throughout her life.

Dawn's father committed suicide at 45, when Dawn was just 19, and the actress has confessed that his untimely passing lead her to question her own mortality.

Speaking to Fearne Cotton for her Happy Place podcast, Dawn admitted that up until recently, she though she wouldn't live very long.

In an emotional confession, she said, "Until quite recently, I think I've always thought that I wouldn't make old bones."

60-year-old Dawn continued to share how such a significant death at such a young age impacted her.

"Being 19 and losing your dad made me think, 'Oh God maybe we don't live very long'.

"So I grasped any opportunity I could, but I was aware that I thought, 'I need to get old enough to grow my daughter in to her twenties at least, then she'd manage without me after that'."

Denys Vernon French killed himself in 1977, after filling his car with gas.

However, despite the tragic event, Dawn French admitted that she now realises the negative impact of her dark thoughts.

"I was thinking like that, which is ridiculous.

"It's possibly to do with losing my dad so early. You know, thinking life is a bit fragile and it can be a bit temporary. And we've just got to be mindful of that."

Speaking about the tragedy in 2014, the actress revealed that she still carries a "sadness" with her for not realising the extent of her father's mental illness.

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"My mum, of course, would have known there was danger.

"He’d lived his whole life with it. But this was at a time when you didn’t say you had a mental illness if you were the head of a family. I still have sadness about it. Massive sadness. And I think it’s been a centre point of my life, what happened with my dad.”

In her recent memoirs, Dawn has also spoken about how one of the hardest thing about losing her father so youg is feeling that he's missing out on her life.

"I often think what a shame he missed out on this or that. Anyone who's lost a parent when they are young, I think has that feeling. You want to say: 'This is what I've done.'"

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on womanandhome.com.