One of the nation’s most popular TV personalities, Dawn French, has shared the shocking racist abuse that she and husband Lenny Henry used to receive during their 25-year-long marriage.
The couple got married in 1984 before divorcing in 2010, and despite enjoying hugely successful careers, Dawn has revealed that things were far more difficult in their personal lives, with a number of upsetting incidents taking place at their home near Reading, Berkshire.
Speaking to The Sunday Times Magazine, the 59-year-old revealed that she thought nothing of hers and Lenny’s races, admitting, “I never thought, ‘Oh, look at me in a mixed-race relationship!’
“I fell in love with a man and he happened to be black and we adopted a mixed-race daughter.” She continued, “I only realised it was an issue when there was hatred from utter t****.”
The TV star shockingly revealed that members of the public took such an issue with the pairing that they attempted to burn down their home, and left disgusting items at their front door.
In a previous interview in 2012, Dawn also spoke out about the terrifying moment someone posted an oily rag through front door “and tried to burn us down”.
She said, “Luckily I woke up and smelt it, otherwise I’m not sure we would be here.”
Dawn told The Sunday Times, “I had to attend to it when people tried to burn our house down and left s*** on the door. But although that was hugely disappointing and shocking, you have to get past it.”
But despite these horrific racial attacks, Dawn said that it simply “makes you steel up a bit and think, ‘Bring it on. I can deal with this'”.
Defending her decades-long marriage, she said, “It was just us living in our time and doing our jobs and being the people we were. It wasn’t brave, it was just doing the right thing.”
The former Vicar of Dibley star also admitted that she and Lenny were perhaps even luckier than other couples because of their wealth and celebrity status. She shared, “And we were lucky we had a big house and a gate and could employ people to protect us when we needed it. Lots of mixed-race couples weren’t so lucky.
“I think the reason why a lot of people invested in it [the marriage] was because it was a black man and a white woman and lots of racism came hurling at us and we tried not to be too bothered about that.”
But despite the extreme situation Lenny and Dawn have faced, and their 2010 divorce, Dawn happily revealed in an interview in 2016 that the pair have managed to salvage a strong friendship.
She shared, “Remarkably, we seem to have shifted with relative ease from a 25-year marriage to a lasting friendship. I am amazed by us – there is no war, we’ve turned out to be the best of friends.”