Wednesday 18 September 2019

Dawn French: Last-minute Ab Fab script drop saved Jennifer Saunders £100,000

Dawn French joked that Jennifer Saunders' script drop saved her from a big bill
Dawn French joked that Jennifer Saunders' script drop saved her from a big bill

Funnywoman Dawn French has revealed how she lost a bet with Jennifer Saunders - when she sent the Absolutely Fabulous film script minutes before a midnight deadline.

French had stood to win £100,000 from her comedy partner if Saunders did not finish the movie's screenplay by the end of 2014, but received an email with the script as an attachment, minutes before the clock chimed at midnight.

The 58-year-old comedienne told Alan Carr on his Chatty Man show that Saunders is a procrastinator, saying: "She is a lazy mare. You have to remember she is very, very bright and she can get away with doing things at the last minute.

"I knew that writing the Ab Fab film, for instance, that she was never going to do it, because she was supposed to have done it for eight years.

"This was a one-way bet. She can give me £100,000 or the Ab Fab script. We shook on it. The year goes on, I know she isn't writing it."

Saunders and Joanna Lumley will reprise their roles as Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone in the big-screen adaptation of the BBC series, which is due to be released in 2016. They will also be reunited with co-stars such as Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks and June Whitfield.

French was convinced she would win the money, because she saw Saunders distracted with other pursuits as the months went on.

"It was getting later and later in the year and I said to her, 'Jen, I am honestly going to take your money'. I even spoke to her husband (Adrian Edmondson) and told him to get the chequebook out," she said.

When the pair met before the end of December, French asked Saunders if she had the finished script.

"She had a bit of fear in her eyes but she said, 'Yes I have' and she slapped it down on the table. I looked through and there was Patsy and Edina and they're all there," French said.

"I shook her hand. I get out of that room later and look through, and yes, the first 30 pages have scenes but the rest of the pages say, 'Blah, blah, blah blah,blah'. I could have bitten her right there."

French then confronted Saunders, who assured her she would have the screenplay at the end of the year.

She added: " I was away in Mexico on New Year and 11.55pm there was a ping on my husband's email, and there it was. She got it in just in time."

French, who has released her third novel According To Yes, also said how it has taken her time to adapt to Saunders not being on stage with her when she embarked on her solo show.

The Vicar Of Dibley star told Carr: "It was strange. The director kept saying to me, 'Please stand in the middle of the stage, Dawn'.

"He said I kept moving over to the left and I said, 'It's because there is another bird that should be standing there and I miss her'. I left a space - a Jennifer-sized space next to me. I got over that pretty quickly and now I own that stage."

Little Mix, Pointless host Richard Osman and Russell Howard also join Carr on the sofa for Chatty Man, which airs tonight at 10pm on Channel 4.

PA Media

Also in this section