Dawn French admits she was jealous of Jennifer Saunders’s Absolutely Fabulous success

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The comedian, now 64, said that though her “pride and happiness” for her friend outweighed her jealousy, she was envious of the huge buzz surrounding the show. The pair had been due to make another series of French and Saunders in 1991 but Dawn and her then husband Lenny Henry adopted a two-week-old baby ‑ their daughter Billie ‑ and Dawn was unable to film.

So Jennifer decided to use the studio they had booked to try out her new show with Joanna Lumley instead.

Dawn said her friend, 63, would use her and US comic Ruby Wax, 68, as sounding boards for ideas before launching Absolutely Fabulous.

Speaking on Rylan Clark-Neal’s Ry-Union podcast, Dawn said: “When Jennifer got her scripts ready she used to pass them by me, and sometimes she used to pass them by Ruby.

“Ruby was definitely involved [in Ab Fab], and Jennifer really relied on Ruby as time went on.

“I did a few little bits in the show, obviously, and if she asked me to look at anything I would do that…but then she got confident with it and off she went.

“I got very conflicted about her massive success with Ab Fab. You know when your sister does really well at something? You’re like, ‘Oh good for you, good for you… **** you.’

“It’s really good to have that cocktail where you’re [disappointed] and excited at the same time. When you love somebody as much as I love Jennifer, the glee and the happiness and the pride overshadows any other stuff in the long run… it does.”

Explaining how Ab Fab ‑ also starring Julia Sawalha and June Whitfield ‑ was created, Dawn said: “Don’t forget that one of the reasons she did it was because I had to squirrel away because my daughter had arrived.

“We’d booked a studio to do another French and Saunders series. Because I adopted my daughter ‑ we’d been waiting for a year or so for the right baby to turn up.

“We got this phone call, saying, ‘I think there is a baby’ and I went, ‘I have to go, I have to go’ ‑ but the studio was all booked.

“So Jennifer said, ‘I will use those studios and do that sitcom we’ve been talking about.'”

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