In an exclusive interview with HELLO! magazine, Dawn French reveals how she drew on her experiences with her late mother, Roma, for her new novel, Because of You.
"I'm trying to write about that very strong mother line, which is just a remarkable, visceral, unconditional relationship," says Dawn, 63, who has a daughter, Billie, with her former husband Sir Lenny Henry and two step children, Lily, 29, and Olly, 26, from her marriage to charity executive Mark Bignell.
"I've been mothered incredibly well in my life. Yes it was spikey and fiery at moments, and we fell out often but we always fell back in again. You're supposed to rebel, and that's fine. But we were very close. I've now moved into the matriarchal position in my family, and I do that with her training and guidance in my pocket."
WATCH Dawn French opens up about her latest novel
The Vicar of Dibley star also describes her relationship with her own daughter, whom she adopted as a baby, as, "My biggest test and my biggest joy. But it is unbreakable. We have the same amount of mother/daughter friction that any mum and daughter have, it's no more or less. But I've learnt a lot about her. And she's learnt a lot about me."
The comedian and actress also tells HELLO! that despite her outgoing screen persona, she is, "a functioning introvert, really. I can do gregarious, big, showing off stuff, and there's a certain joy in it, but I'm 98% hermit, and happy with that."
Dawn French has written a new book, Because of You
Describing herself as "quiet" and "homey" Dawn says that she likes her life in Fowey, Cornwall, to be simple.
"I like the washing machine going, a cake in the oven, time to read. I don't feel things like, 'Ooh, I haven't seen Japan yet,' or 'I haven't directed a film.' I don't feel like I'm failing at all the things I should be doing. I’m not very adventurous. My dream day is a pasty and a book, and I rarely get the chance for that."
In the interview Dawn also talks about starring in the soon-to-be-released film Death on the Nile, directed by Kenneth Branagh, with her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders and how they had to resist the urge to mess about on set.
"We've parodied so many films before, and to be in costumes on this amazing set... it's very tempting. But there was no question about it because Ken is very serious about doing the right thing. He's got the biggest twinkle but he's strict and so accomplished that you want to raise your game for him."
Dawn's novel, Because of You is out now, published by Michael Joseph, £20.