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Dawn French reveals 'miracle' pain relief after being left unable to walk

The Vicar of Dibley star struggled with constant pain for years following an onstage mishap

Dawn French on This Morning
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
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Dawn French's iconic Vicar of Dibley scene, which saw her leap into a puddle, has delighted audiences for years, but the 65-year-old revealed that the hilarious stunt left her in unimaginable pain for years.

The comedian was asked to recreate the classic scene in 2009 while covering for Paul O'Grady on his chat show, and while the stunt garnered adoration from Dawn's fans, it resulted in years of pain – and almost led to Dawn undergoing a knee replacement.

Dawn recounted the ordeal during a recent stage performance in Exeter, telling her fans how the TV show set about recreating the scene. "They constructed a 10ft-high hill out of scaffolding covered in AstroTurf. The idea was that there was a long enough drop for me to disappear into.

Dawn French on Loose Women© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
A stunt gone wrong left Dawn in pain for years

"Then some bright spark had the idea of having a shallow silicone membrane containing two inches of water on top so that, as I jumped through, the water would splash up and look like a deep puddle."

Dawn added that the stunt hadn't been thought through properly, explaining: "But what was I falling onto? The answer is absolutely nothing. Except for 10ft below there were two very thin crash mats in a film studio with a flat concrete floor. Any fool would know this was a disaster in the making. Any fool but me."

SEE: Dawn French looks unrecognisable in shocking photo 

The 65-year-old shared a photo with her audience of herself about to jump into the puddle, saying: "This is actually quite an emotional picture. This is the last time that my body is actually intact. This is the last time I had two functioning legs," explaining how the stunt went.

"I went 10ft down and plump on to the two crash mats. One leg twisted very awkwardly underneath me and I landed very heavily. I heard the worst twanging noise you could ever imagine."

Dawn French in an all black ensemble© Can Nguyen/Shutterstock
Dawn French shared how she injured her knee

Dawn managed her pain by using a crutch, but it became unbearable in 2017, and she sought the advice of a surgeon, who told her she'd eventually need a knee replacement but for the time being, steroid injections would help with the pain.

The comedian continued that she believed she could only have three steroid injections over the course of her life, so rationed the pain reliever, sharing that the relief was "a miracle."

Wary of using up her three injections, Dawn worked through the pain, before a job that saw her wearing heels left her in "agony," leading her to make the decision to have a knee replacement – before discovering she could have three steroid injections per year, not over the course of her life.

Dawn French on set with Jennifer Saunders© 20th Century Studios/Moviestore/Shutterstock
Dawn French had to wear heels while filming

"I called the surgeon to have the [knee replacement] operation. Then he told me I couldn't have three injections in total but three a year. I could have had loads of injections for all those painful years," Dawn explained.

Here's hoping her pain relief injections mean a knee replacement operation is still a few years off for Dawn, who also struggles with rheumatoid arthritis.

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