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10 July 2014
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Wild West

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interviews
  Dawn French took time out to share her thoughts on life, love and chocolate...

Dawn French as Mary
Max: Wild West has a dark undertone, why did you choose to work on such an edgy script?
I wanted to do a darker sort of script because everything I've done so far is a bit chirripy and especially Vicar was a bit squeaky clean. Partly, as well, it was Simon Nye's (the scriptwriter's) idea to give it a bit more edge.

Lisa & Sue: What was it like to work in Cornwall?
It was fantastic to work in Cornwall partly because my family live there so I was able to do lots of visiting and eat lots of cake. They live all over Cornwall and all over Devon.

Clare, Helston: Is St Gweep based on anywhere in particular?
No St Gweep is the product of Simon Nye's, the scriptwriter, imagination. We agonised over the name. There is a place called Gweek nearby where we filmed. We just liked the sound of it.

Faith: Was it hard to become a character that was so different from the vicar?
It was not hard at all because in actual life I am a grumpy old bag. So this is much easier for me to play. I am not, however, I repeat NOT a lesbian - even though I'd like to be when I grow up.

Adele: Why did you choose a lesbian relationship for your character?
Again, it wasn't really my choice. It was the choice of Simon Nye the scriptwriter. But I relished the chance to play a gay woman because I think it's about time gay female couples can be as ordinary as any other couple on the telly. I don't get to snog Catherine in this series but I'm hoping for a chance in the next series.

Ashleigh, Gillingham: What was it like kissing Hugh Grant and Stephen Thompkinson?
Very different to each other but both equally delicious. Hugh Grant tastes of mint whereas Steve Thompkinson tastes of bubblegum.

Sarah: Where do you think you would be today if you were not doing comedy?
I would definitely be a teacher which is what I'm properly trained to do. I enjoyed teaching very much. I taught from 11 up to 18. I taught Drama and English. However, I have absolutely no training as an actress - as is blatantly obvious.

Dawn French and Catherine Tate
Holly: There is a debate whether Catherine (Tate) looks like Jennifer (Saunders) what do you think?
Well people have said this before. But I can't see it at all. Jennifer is genuinely physically repulsive whereas Catherine Tate is really rather pretty. I loved working with Catherine Tate she's a fantastic improviser. She was quite pregnant when we did this show and therefore I wasn't allowed to hit her very much which is another treat I'm looking forward to in Series Two. We shared a love of Big Brother - Series 3 while we were filming and would argue about the contestants every day. I did not go for Jade I'm afraid. I really loved Alex but I loved Adele the best. Catherine changed her mind every day about which contestant she favoured because she's fickle and known to be a fair-weather friend.

Hayley: What was the rest of the cast of Wild West like to work with?
Fantastic cast. I was lucky enough to be in on the casting so I only chose funny or fanciable people. Most people were both.

Amy: Will you be doing another French & Saunders tour any time soon?
No tour planned in the immediate future. Although we would like to do one when we are 75. So book early to ensure disappointment.

Kylet: Eating chocolate seems to be a theme for you on telly - must be a real nightmare :)
I never do any television without chocolate. That's my motto and I live by it. Quite often I write the scripts and I make sure there are chocolate scenes. Terry's, of course, is my favourite but actually I'm a bit of a chocolate tart and will eat anything. It's amazing I'm so slim.
BBC-Host: The inclusion of a product in this chat does not represent an endorsement by the BBC. Other products are available.

Machinajsy: Was working on a darker comedy also a darker experience, or did you find it the same as working on previous shows?
Definitely not. In fact if anything it was more fun. Partly because we were all away from home, we hung out together a lot. We were living in hotels and digs. So we tended to meet up in the evenings for cider and pasties and general bad behaviour. Everyone behaved equally badly, I'm pleased to report. Many marriages wrecked and many livers ruined. Tip top!

Angela: What are you working on at the moment?
I start work with Jennifer tomorrow on a Christmas special. We haven't written a single word and we start performing in about three weeks time. Nothing new there. We also have to do a film parody for Comic Relief. We can't decide which film to parody at the moment. Any ideas welcome but not Spiderman owing to costume being too tight. After Christmas I start rehearsals for a one-woman play called 'My Brilliant Divorce' so please come and see it in February in London's glittery West End.

Sophie: Which character did you prefer playing, the vicar or Mary?
Sorry to be predictable but I like them both equally for completely different reasons. I preferred the clothes in Vicar but I was responsible for the choice of red only in Wild West. I know somebody who has chosen to wear a lot of red - somebody who it doesn't suit at all and I based that choice on her. I personally wouldn't be seen dead or alive in a kagool. But it was very useful for filming since it rained every single day.

Dawn French
Charli: Very girly question but how do you keep your skin so perfect?
That's a nice question. Thank you for saying that. If you saw it up close you wouldn't say that since it looks like the surface of the moon. But I try to use polyfiller before I apply foundation and this seems to have worked. I consider my make-up in Wild West to be very brave since I didn't have any corrective (beauty) make-up at all just red lips and three extra chins. I had an acrylic streak sown into the side of my head to make a Mallern streak. (Mallern is the name of a family that all had the same streak).

Carly Chik: I'm studying GCSE Drama do you think you could give me a few pointers to help me along?
Yes. Turn up your radio. Watch lots of telly and eat loads of choc. Feel guilty. Stay up all night. Learn everything in six hours that has taken you two years to compile. That's how I did it.

Susan: Would you call yourself down to earth?
That's a hard one. I don't think my family would put up with me being anything else. They are my strictist critics and wouldn't allow me to have any airs or graces.

Brad: Do you think that they will ever do a wax work of you that will go in Madam Tussaud?
There has been talk of it. But I'm too shy. Plus they slightly give me the heebie jeebies. There's one of Lenny that totally freaked me out. It was one of the first ones they had that talked. There were two of them and they were arguing. Lenny loved it.

Busta: If you could work with any actor/actress who would you choose?
That's a hard question. I think my top choice would have to be Judi Dench. I want to do something where I play Judi Dench's younger sister or daughter. While Jennifer plays Maggie Smith's younger daughter.

Fuzzywugs: How did the locals react to having their village turned into a film studio?
I think they were a bit bewildered at first but we had a big drink-up at the pub (sorry to all BBC license payers who footed the bill). The day after that everyone loved us. We included some villiagers as extras and many of them put up some of the crew in their homes. So by the time we left we knew them pretty well.

Donna: Would you ever release a Ulrika Jonsson style book?
I have had the unfortunate experience of having someone write an unauthorised biography of me. Half of it is lies and the other half is badly written. My feeling is that if I'm going to write my life story, I ought to have my life first. So maybe when I'm 92... It was a dreadful thing to have someone write a book about you when you have no control over it. It felt like being bullied. Don't buy that book!

Collette: You've played a vicar, murderer and a shopkeeper is there anyone else you'd like to play?
I'd like to play a horse, many people think I already have. Either end of the horse would be fine. The person I have admired the most in comedy terms would be Eric Morecambe who is my total hero.

Sorry to anyone whose question we didn't have time to answer but I'm off to the pub now. Thank you for watching. Look out for the bungee jumping episode which is my favourite plus the one where I get to stick my tongue in a boy's ear. And there will be plenty of on-screen piercing for your delight to look out for. Any way I can serve you, I am, as ever, your comedy slave. Big Love!



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