Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

I Was Quite Happy to Not Be Married Again - but I'm Glad I Did

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

I Was Quite Happy to Not Be Married Again - but I'm Glad I Did

Article excerpt

SHE'S the star of The Vicar of Dibley, one half of comedy duo French and Saunders, an acclaimed author and chocolateloving national treasure. Much of Dawn French's work has been drawn from her own life - her 2008 autobiography Dear Fatty and recent solo show Thirty Million Minutes, chart both her triumphs and her tragedies. Her latest book Me. You. A Diary, reveals what she has learned in her 60 years and features blank pages for the reader to include his or her own entries.

It's a mellow, gentle read with a lot of words of wisdom, as Dawn looks back on how she has acted and reacted to different events in her life, how her priorities have changed and how, as her mother used to say, 'We don't do perfect'.

It's clear that family means everything to Dawn, who has an adopted daughter Billie with her ex-husband Sir Lenny Henry, and has gained two stepchildren through her second marriage to Mark Bignall. They live in Cornwall.

She guards her family's privacy like a tigress.

"I'm a bit of a contradiction in terms," she admits. "I've had my loss, I've had my joys, and all kinds of ups and downs, like everyone - but I've found that by telling my story honestly, that connects me to the readers, and the audience to my show. It's who I am. That doesn't mean to say I'm not private - there's plenty not in the book."

She doesn't mention Mark by name in the diary and steers clear of much detail on family members.

"None of these people have asked to be part of this," she explains. "This is my life and my choices, so I have to be careful about that. My own daughter doesn't want to be in it [the limelight] because she's very shy."

Dawn had known Mark for years and interviewed him for research purposes while writing her second novel, Oh Dear Silvia.

In the new book, the meeting seems like an epiphany for her - the sun burst out from behind a cloud, the light poured in through the window, bounced off the white wall and reflected on to his face 'lighting him up as if Caravaggio and Fellini had collaborated'.

"I knew in that instant we would marry," she writes.

Is marriage different second time around? "Yes, because the person is different and so the mixture is different. There's chemistry that's entirely different and all the more interesting for that. I'm glad I've had both of these marriages for lots of reasons. They both bring very different things. It's very joyful. I didn't imagine I'd ever be married again. I was quite happy to not be married again, but I'm very glad I did."

Initially, the respective children kept a watchful eye on their relationship, but before long, they were keen for them to tie the knot.

"They were kind of petitioning for it and were rather embarrassing, mentioning it when we hadn't mentioned it yet. They wanted it to happen. It was great to get their approval."

But she did want a proper proposal, she admits. …

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