A brief, but great moment with Dawn French


LONDON – July 18, 2010: It just keeps getting better and better as we continue our interviews for the doc on the British comedy writers for PBS. Yesterday, it was another day, another highlight as we talked with Dawn French, writer, actor, comedy genius. Dawn talked at great length about her good friend, Richard Curtis, whom she worked with on the already classic Vicar of Dibley.

During the interview, Dawn talked of how she and Richard collaborated on the character of Geraldine Granger, discussed that magic “Richard Curtis touch” which makes all his projects highly successful and how very involved he was during the entire process of each Vicar episode from the beginning right through to the taping.

This entire dive into the creation and production of the British comedy has been quite interesting to see the difference from series to series. With many comedies, the writer creates the script and there is little back and forth discussion of the character with the actors. In the case of the Vicar, there were times, Dawn said, that scripts and/or lines were changed during the tapings in front of the studio audience. She also seconded the notion that Roger Lloyd Pack talked about the other day that Richard was much more of a writer/director on the set than merely the writer. Constantly looking for camera angles, reaction shots to ensure “maximum funny” for the audience.

Dawn also shared some very telling thoughts about the writing process, overall, not only discussing how she and writing partner, Jennifer Saunders, wrote French and Saunders, but how she is moving into a new phase of her comedy career with a very different project slated for BBC Two, Roger and Val Have Just Got In. Some very interesting thoughts on the future and, hopefully, rise of female comedy writers in the business.

Next up, Karl Howman, the lead actor in the short-lived but genius, Mulberry. After that, Dame Judi Dench. Unfortunately, not enough computer memory to talk about all her contributions to the world of stage, screen (big and small) and the world, in general. Wish us luck.