'On pain of death, it is always jam first' - Dawn French's hilarious address to Falmouth graduates

"So look, I’m Dawn French from the 80s, and I’m your chancellor!" Credit: Falmouth University.

"You may leave Cornwall, but she never ever leaves you."

That was the heartwarming message comedian and writer Dawn French gave to Falmouth University graduates.

The Vicar of Dibley star is Chancellor at the university and recorded a video for students as part of their online graduation ceremonies.

In her typical style she mixed the hilarious with the heartwarming - but her words on how to prepare a cream tea may cause a stir among her fans in Devon.

"Be bold, be kind, try not to kill anyone, breathe, laugh, and never forget, on pain of death, that it is always, always jam first," she told graduates.

  • Watch the full speech

Introducing herself to the graduates, she said: "So look, I'm Dawn French from the 80s and I'm your Chancellor.

"Which actually means that I'm your Queen. Which actually means that I'm in charge. Which actually means that I can end you. And actually means that you have to obey me forever.  

"So, now that we’re all nice and relaxed, I just want to say hello, and keslowena, which is Cornish for congratulations."

But the creator of French and Saunders went on to praise students for completing their courses in trying circumstances.

"You didn't give up," she said.

"Even when you really wanted to. Even when you felt a little bit lost, even when none of it made any sense to you, and when a global pandemic threatened to steal it all from you.

"You didn’t give up. And for that, from my heart to yours, truly, keslowena."

She emphasised the importance of the creative arts, saying they are not "luxuries or mere diversions", but the "hallmark of a civilised society and the route through which we learn to be proper, interesting, unique humans".

"What’s more important than that?," Dawn asked, before answering her own question.

"Well obviously kissing is more important than that. And maybe Nutella spread is. And chips are. And puppies are if we’re honest, but you get my drift."

The writer, who lives in Cornwall, also spoke of the long-lasting effect of living in the county will have on graduates.

"You may leave Cornwall, but she will never ever leave you. You take the turquoise with you - it’s Cornwall’s gift. Forever," she said.