Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

TV: French and Saunders reunited… well, sort of

© SYSTEMDawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have arguably gained the status of national treasures over the past four decades.

With French, 63, most notably starring as wholly relatable small-town minister Geraldine in The Vicar Of Dibley, and Saunders, 63, as Edina “Eddy” Monsoon in timeless BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous, the pair’s individual accolades are just as noteworthy as their combined efforts.

The pair are teaming up again for a new Gold show French & Saunders: Funny Women, which sees the pair focus on female comedians past and present.

“People call it a reunion but it’s not, we’ve never been apart,” said French. “But it’s always the same – being very funny in rehearsal, then forgetting it all.”

The duo are looking at female comics, who were thin on the ground when they started their careers.

“We could name every single other woman in comedy when we started out, which was about three others,” said French.

“And then it became five others, then 12 – and suddenly now you can’t even name everybody. I’m delighted, because how many men would be able to name every single other guy in comedy? They can’t, there’s too many – and they wouldn’t even stop to think about it.”

Duos are a much-loved tradition in British comedy and French and Saunders have been compared to Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, or David Mitchell and Robert Webb.

“That’s a nice comparison,” said Saunders. “Honestly, we’re just desperate to be funny, get laughs, dress up and be silly.

“There is a place for just trying to be funny, whether you’re a man or a woman. You can get a bit po-faced in some comedy nowadays, but I think you’ve just got to up the gag rate.”

Saunders also pointed to the tradition of men taking all the funny roles – even the ones meant for women.

“We also realised that a lot of female comedy was done by men,” she added, “so you had Alastair Sim playing the headmistress in St Trinian’s, you had Dick Emery doing funny comedy, Les Dawson being Hylda Baker basically, and even the Monty Pythons had someone being a dolly bird, but the men took all the funny parts. I mean, come on!

“Julie Walters could walk in a room and make you laugh without saying anything. Hannah Gadsby would say something to make you laugh. Lucille Ball would just fall over and make you laugh. There are so many different ways of doing it – but most of it is timing.”

French & Saunders: Funny Women, today, 3.20pm, Gold