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Dawn French reveals she and Jennifer Saunders narrowly escaped death after being poisoned by a carbon monoxide leak


Dawn French has revealed how she and her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders almost died after they suffering carbon monoxide poisoning in the 1980s.

The comedian, 66, explained how she and her best friend Jennifer, 65, had been filming in Spain when they had the near death experience.

In an extract from her new book The T**t Files obtained by The Mirror, Dawn wrote that she had woken ‘groggy and confused’ and that she’d had to crawl to safety.

She explained: ‘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. 

Terrifying! Dawn French has revealed how she and her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders almost died after they suffering carbon monoxide poisoning in the 1980s (Dawn pictured this month)

Terrifying! Dawn French has revealed how she and her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders almost died after they suffering carbon monoxide poisoning in the 1980s (Dawn pictured this month)

Close call: The comedian, 66, explained how she and her best friend Jennifer, 65, had been filming in Spain when they had the near death experience (pictured together in 2017)

Close call: The comedian, 66, explained how she and her best friend Jennifer, 65, had been filming in Spain when they had the near death experience (pictured together in 2017)

Ordeal: In an extract from her new book The T**t Files obtained by The Mirror, Dawn wrote that she had woken 'groggy and confused' and that she'd had to crawl to safety (pictured in French and Saunders)

Ordeal: In an extract from her new book The T**t Files obtained by The Mirror, Dawn wrote that she had woken ‘groggy and confused’ and that she’d had to crawl to safety (pictured in French and Saunders)

‘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.

‘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.’

After the terrifying encounter, Dawn revealed: ‘It later transpired that we were being poisoned by a carbon monoxide leak from a faulty boiler. 

‘I’m pretty sure that, 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’s autobiography also detailed the reason she suddenly decided to quit French & Saunders, her hit show with pal Jennifer. 

She recalled the ‘tipping point’ came during filming for a sketch with pop star Anastacia. 

Dawn and Jennifer were filming the scene in the toilets in the BBC building with Dawn seen describing her fantasy that Anastacia will hear her sing and invite her to come on Top of the Pops with her. 

Abrupt ending: Dawn's autobiography also detailed the reason she suddenly decided to quit French & Saunders , her hit show with pal Jennifer (pictured in the show)

Abrupt ending: Dawn’s autobiography also detailed the reason she suddenly decided to quit French & Saunders , her hit show with pal Jennifer (pictured in the show)

Trigger: She recalled the 'tipping point' came during filming for a sketch with pop star Anastacia and that seeing herself in the costume was the moment she decided to quit the show

Trigger: She recalled the ‘tipping point’ came during filming for a sketch with pop star Anastacia and that seeing herself in the costume was the moment she decided to quit the show

Anastacia stars in the sketch, overhearing the conversation and it then cuts to Dawn in the pop star’s signature cowgirl look singing with the star on TOTP.

Dawn writes in her new book that seeing herself in the costume was the moment she decided to quit the show. 

She said: ‘I’d genuinely never felt so ugly. I’d often voluntarily, happily been “ugly” for hundreds of sketches.

‘I’ve never minded what something looks like, as long as it’s servicing the joke right. The mirror was clearly telling me why this was so painfully abhorrent. Because the joke was on me.’

After wrapping filming for the day, Dawn says she ‘burst into hot, angry tears. I properly sobbed all the 28 miles home’ before calling Jennifer and telling her she wanted to end their show. 

Speaking to The Times, Dawn insisted that her best friend didn’t try to dissuade her, explaining: ‘Jennifer would never fight me on something so big. 

‘She does say now, “What the f*** were you thinking? We could have sorted that easily.” But it wasn’t a problem.’

As for her, she has never regretted her decision, adding: ‘I think it was time to go to another chapter, and you have to know when that happens.’

Upsetting: After wrapping filming for the day, Dawn says she 'burst into hot, angry tears. I properly sobbed all the 28 miles home' before calling Jennifer and telling her she wanted to end their show (pictured in February)

Upsetting: After wrapping filming for the day, Dawn says she ‘burst into hot, angry tears. I properly sobbed all the 28 miles home’ before calling Jennifer and telling her she wanted to end their show (pictured in February) 

Fan favourites: Dawn and Jennifer started working together when they met in their early 20s in 1978, with their eponymous sketch show first airing on BBC Two in 1987

Fan favourites: Dawn and Jennifer started working together when they met in their early 20s in 1978, with their eponymous sketch show first airing on BBC Two in 1987

Dawn and Jennifer started working together when they met in their early 20s in 1978, with their eponymous sketch show first airing on BBC Two in 1987. 

Earlier this month, Jennifer promised Dawn that a new script of Absolutely Fabulous is in the works.

The iconic comedy series was created by the duo in 1992, and ran for three acclaimed seasons – followed by a series of specials and two extra seasons later on.

The show follows the life adventures of larger than life booze-swilling PR guru Edina Monsoon (portrayed by Jennifer) and her wild fashion director friend Patty Stone (played by Joanna Lumley) as they faced personal and professional crises.

The last time fans saw the duo on screen was in 2016, for the comedy crime movie  Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

Dawn has now revealed she convinced her creative partner into promising a ‘serious first draft’ of an Absolutely Fabulous-related script by the end of this year while chatting on their podcast Titting About.

Acclaimed:  Earlier this month, Jennifer promised Dawn that a new script of Absolutely Fabulous is in the works. The iconic comedy series was created by the duo in 1992, and ran for three acclaimed seasons - followed by a series of specials and two extra seasons later on

Acclaimed:  Earlier this month, Jennifer promised Dawn that a new script of Absolutely Fabulous is in the works. The iconic comedy series was created by the duo in 1992, and ran for three acclaimed seasons – followed by a series of specials and two extra seasons later on

Iconic: The show follows the life adventures of larger than life booze-swilling PR guru Edina Monsoon and her wild fashion director friend Patty Stone (Jennifer and Joanna Lumley pictured on show)

Iconic: The show follows the life adventures of larger than life booze-swilling PR guru Edina Monsoon and her wild fashion director friend Patty Stone (Jennifer and Joanna Lumley pictured on show)

‘I need to write a film or a series based on Ab Fab, because everyone wants another Ab Fab movie,’ said Jennifer. ‘I can’t do that, I just don’t have a thing. I want to do something related.’

When asked about the iconic Joanna Lumley and if she would make a comeback as Patsy Stone, Jennifer answered: ‘Possibly, including some Ab Fab-ness, but not totally Ab Fab.’

The creative duo teased more details into their project as Dawn remarked that ‘by December 31,’ Jennifer would have written ‘a serious first draft of a film [or TV show] related to Ab Fab’.

The pair shook hands on air as Dawn announced: ‘She’s shaking on it! Alright, there’s a deal for a new Ab Fab product!’



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