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Dawn French reveals how she nearly died alongside Jennifer Saunders - details

The former Vicar of Dibley actress lives in Cornwall…

Dawn French in an all black ensemble
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Dawn French has opened up about the near-death experience she had alongside her best friend and former sketch show partner, Jennifer Saunders. 

The Vicar of Dibley star, 66, made the revelation in an extract from her new book, The [expletive] Files, a copy of which The Mirror obtained. In the book, Dawn explained how she and Jennifer had to crawl to safety following a carbon monoxide leak whilst filming in Spain in the 80s.

The pair were filming in Spain © Dave Benett
The pair were filming in Spain

"We made a film for The Comic Strip called A Fistful of Travellers’ Cheques in 1984. We were sharing a villa with two bedrooms – Fatty (Dawn’s nickname for pal Jennifer) and her then-boyfriend in one room and me in the other. 

"About five days in, we were called to set. A car would pick us up at 6am and it was my job to be the alarm. I duly woke up and, in an effort not to fall back to sleep, I attempted to sit up.

The duo have remained the closest of friends © Dave M. Benett
The duo have remained the closest of friends

"What happened next was very odd. It was as if I’d been thwacked in the face with a frying pan in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Eventually, I managed to roll on to the floor. I was groggy and confused. I crawled to the door, opened it, and shouted to Jennifer. She mumbled something and then I heard a thud. None of us could stand up, so we crawled outside."

She added that it then came to light, "We were being poisoned by a carbon monoxide leak from a faulty boiler," and that she is "pretty if we hadn’t had that early morning call, we wouldn’t be here now because we wouldn’t have attempted to wake up and the gas would’ve finished us off."

Dawn and Jennifer had an iconic eponymous BBC show © Ian West - PA Images
Dawn and Jennifer had an iconic eponymous BBC show

Dawn and Jennifer famously worked together on their eponymous TV show, French and Saunders between 1987 and 2005. 

Away from her exploits as a comedian, Dawn is a doting mother and stepmother. She shares her daughter, Billie, with her ex-husband, Lenny Henry, and step-children Lily, 29, and Olly, 26, with her husband Mark. 

Dawn's daughter Billie smiling for the camera© Instagram
Dawn adopted Billie in 1991

Earlier this month, Dawn made an incredibly rare comment about her daughter whilst being interviewed by Chris Moyles.

"I'm not into filters and perfect. and I don't want my daughter to feel like she has to be like that, either. So, the minute I started thinking about all the mistakes I've made and all the stupid times I have been what you call a twit that I thought, 'Oh, there's a tsunami of it,' I am mainly made of it.'"

Earlier, she explained: "Nobody's perfect are they, I don't know why we tried to pretend to be…, we all know that we can't achieve it but we somehow try to live to be perfect and then we feel like we failed and I've gotten to the age now where I just think I can't do that and actually I didn't desire to do it."