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French and Saunders reunited in Bristol to receive comedy award

The women made their TV debut in1982. Photo: Slapstick.org

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders were reunited on stage for the first time in more than eight years on Thursday, at Bristol's Colston Hall.

It was to celebrate their contribution to screen comedy and to receive the Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award 2017.

The sell-out event was put on by Bristol's annual Slapstick comedy film and TV festival to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the French & Saunders series.

Their sketch show ran for 7 series. Credit: Slapstick.org

Host of the show was television presenter and comedian Mel Giedroyc, whose own double act with Sue Perkins got its first big break on the French & Saunders sketch show.

The duo were presented with custom-made French and Saunders versions of the Aardman character Morph.

The duo have a 35 year body of screen comedy work, together and separately. Credit: Slapstick.org

Among the live guests was the newly ennobled Dame June Whitfield.

Video contributors included messages from:

  • Barry Cryer (who received the Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award 2015)
  • Griff Rhys Jones
  • Matt Lucas
  • Joanna Lumley
  • Ruby Wax
  • Miranda Hart
Comedian Miranda Hart says she was inspired by French and Saunders. Credit: PA Images

In her message, Miranda Hart said; “Sir Jennifer! Lady French! I could do that very British thing and start; 'Who am I speaking to exactly'. But, frankly, you deserve more than that. I want to say a genuine and heartfelt thank you for inspiring me and countless other women working in comedy today.

"I used to sneak into your office at Television Centre to write my pilots (I bet you didn't know that), admire your comedy awards and wonder if I'd ever win one. And I have! So thank you for your inspiration, your dedication and for your particular brilliance at clowning. You are both wonderful people and you have made me laugh such a lot."

All proceeds from the evening go towards funding the next Slapstick festival, taking place from 26-28 January 2018.