No joke – French was set to reject Vicar role

Dawn French: 'Blooming good'
Dawn French: 'Blooming good'
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DAWN French has revealed that she almost turned down her starring role in The Vicar Of Dibley because she did not think it was funny enough.

The star, who won millions of viewers in the 13 years she played the title character in ­Richard Curtis’s hit sitcom, said she wanted the role of the dopey verger, Alice, which was eventually taken by Emma Chambers.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Desert Islands Discs, she told host Kirsty Young: “When Richard showed me the part, or explained it to me, I thought: ‘How on Earth do you play a central character who’s so blooming good?’

“I thought: ‘Where are the flaws? Where is the monster in this woman?’ That’s what I understand comedy to be. However, Alice was a very funny character from the off, but, ­anyway, he wouldn’t let me play it.”

She also talked about the end of her marriage to fellow comic Lenny Henry, saying: “Those last few months were pretty much like the first 
few months: we were good friends.”

She added: “It was a tribute to the way we’d been married the way we accomplished it.”

French and Henry met in 1980 while working with the Comic Strip team. They ­married in 1984 and have an adopted daughter.

The couple separated in October 2009 and their divorce was finalised a year later.

French recently released 
her second novel Oh Dear ­Silvia.

In The Vicar of Dibley, French plays the Rev Geraldine Grange, a chocaholic self-described “babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom”.

She is best friends with Alice and at the end of each episode tells her a joke, which Alice fails to understand.