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Dawn French: It's a sitcom unlike any other

Dawn French: It's a sitcom unlike any other
Dawn French: It's a sitcom unlike any other

Dawn French talks about breaking the sitcom mould with new BBC2 show Roger and Val Have Just Got In, alongside Alfred Molina... What is it you like so much about the new show? “It’s so bold. I wanted to do another sitcom, but one quite unlike anything I’d done before. I thought it would be very interesting to do a two-hander and something set in real time. This seemed so different. It’s challenging, but we think it works!” What is your character like? “She’s a minx. She gets her pupils to do ironing practice on her curtains. Roger and Val don’t like authority. They live above the law. They have no other distractions. Inside the house, they can simply play and amuse each other with stories. Their home is very busy and full of stuff – all their enthusiasms are fully realised in there. They never venture outside it. They’ve created a magical universe where all the diversion is centred on them.” How does it feel to be labelled ‘a national treasure'? “It makes me feel like the Mary Rose – about to be raised up from the murky depths of the Solent, sprayed and put in a museum. I’m not looking forward to that part!” Will people relate to Roger and Val? “Yes. In one episode, some people are coming to stay, and Roger and Val can’t bear the hassle of getting the spare room ready. That will strike a chord with lots of people!” What else is different about the couple? “They have a rich fantasy life. That’s how Jen [Saunders] and I fell in love. I was so delighted to find someone who would do a show just for me!” Would you describe it as highbrow? “I think it is really subtle stuff. You can rest assured, no comedy parcels are delivered in Roger and Val Have Just Got In!”

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 


An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.