2 APRIL 2002
The Vicar Of Dibley star Dawn French is part owner of a London boutique, has just signed for a new sitcom and her three-part BBC romantic comedy Ted And Alice starts on Thursday. But, says the writer-actress, the thing that challenges her most in the world these days is being a mum to her daughter Billie.
“Motherhood has tested me beyond belief,” she told the Daily Mail. “It’s absolutely not what I thought it was going to be. I thought, in typical Dawn-style, that I’d be able to organise her into my life, but we’ve all been organised into hers.”
Dawn discovered the difficulties of being a mother soon after adopting baby Billie, who is now ten. After exchanging her work in show biz for duties at home, she admits she went “slightly mad”. “I hadn’t read anything, hadn’t talked to anyone… I just felt very fat headed. I think a lot of women go through it. It’s possibly nature’s way of making you go all domestic. You’d better not be longing to read a book, because you need to mash up more carrots.”
Though she soon got back to work, Ted And Alice was the first job that took her away from Billie for a long stretch of time, something that Dawn says she “can’t bear”. “It was like my heart would break… I need to know what she’s done nearly all day,” she reveals. And it’s a feeling that takes the free-spirited comedian somewhat by surprise. “I’m not interested in anyone else like that,” she says, later adding, “I didn’t know I would be quite as obsessional. It’s as well I’ve only got one child.”
And its unlikely that she and husband Lenny Henry, who she wed in 1984, will adopt any more children. “I realised that the only reason would be to provide a companion for her,” she confesses, “and I didn’t think I could look a kid in the face and say: ‘You were really a pet.’
“I thought we might as well get a dog, which, in fact, we’ve just done.”