Dawn French reveals how an iconic Vicar of Dibley gag led to many ‘painful years’

Sep 11, 2023
For those who fondly remember the beloved British sitcom, one of the standout moments was undoubtedly the scene in which Granger fell into a seemingly innocent puddle. Source: Getty Images.

Beloved British comedian and actress Dawn French, known for her iconic portrayal of Geraldine Granger in the beloved show The Vicar of Dibley, has candidly revealed the years of pain and discomfort caused by a seemingly innocent gag from the popular series.

For those who fondly remember the beloved British sitcom, one of the standout moments was undoubtedly the scene in which Granger fell into a seemingly innocent puddle. This moment has become etched in the collective memory of viewers and remains one of the show’s most memorable and hilarious segments.

However, during a recent one-woman show, French revealed that behind the laughter was a series of painful years for the 65-year-old.

“One of the most enjoyable moments in my work life was being asked to jump in that puddle It seemed to tickle a few funny bones. So much so that it was repeated in another episode,” she told her audience recently, as per The Daily Mail.

“Honestly to this day, people still send me films of themselves jumping into puddles.”

While there is no doubt the scene is beloved by fans across the world and stands to this day as an iconic moment in comedy history, French spoke of how disaster struck when she was asked to recreate the moment during an appearance on The Paul O’Grady Show in 2009.

“They constructed a 10ft-high hill out of scaffolding covered in AstroTurf. The idea was that there was a long enough drop for me to disappear into,” she said.

“Then some bright spark had the idea of having a shallow silicon membrane containing two inches of water on top so that, as I jumped through, the water would splash up and look like a deep puddle.

“But what was I falling onto? The answer is absolutely nothing. Except for 10ft below there were two very thin crash mats in a film studio with a flat concrete floor. Any fool would know this was a disaster in the making. Any fool but me.

“The producers took me to show me and see if I was all right with it. And I replied ‘Of course I’m all right with it, I’m British’.”

French went on to reveal that after a considerable drop, she knew something wasn’t right.

“I went 10ft down and plump on to the two crash mats. One leg twisted very awkwardly underneath me and I landed very heavily. I heard the worst twanging noise you could ever imagine,” she said.

“I knew I was in trouble but I completed the sketch. I clearly felt like I’d rather die than admit weakness.

“The producers were asking if I was all right but I said I was fine. I drove five hours home to Cornwall trying to convince myself everything was all right but it wasn’t.”

Over the subsequent “painful years”, French met with a sports therapist who suggested eight weeks of rest for her knee.

He foresaw a future knee replacement and offered three steroid injections. The first brought temporary relief and then came 18 months of enduring pain while she wrote a book.

She used the second injection for a dance-filled role, but the relief didn’t last. In 2020, she used her last injection for a comedy role, but the pain returned during a 2022 film project. Believing she could only have three injections, she eventually opted for knee replacement surgery.

While French offered her loyal fans some insight into what goes on behind the scenes, she is set to reveal all her “faux pas” and “stupid decisions” in her upcoming memoir The Twat Files.

French announced her latest project with a video posted on her Instagram account, shedding light on its inspiration and what readers can expect to find within its pages.


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A post shared by Dawn French (@dawnrfrench)

“Now, look, I’m known for a few things, aren’t I? I’m known for asking about titting about, of course, and funnying about something I’m not known for, if we’re honest, is perfection,” the 65-year-old says at the start of her video,” she said at the time.

“And so I’ve decided to write new book called The Twat Files. And in this book, I am documenting all the times in my life that I have been so far from perfect. In fact, all the times that I’ve been an utter twat.

“And there are many, many, many examples, more than I ever thought, alarming amount of times that I have made faux pas, mistakes, stupid decisions and got things very, very wrong.

“But look, the fact is that I’m sort of butting against being perfect, having filters and perfect angles.

“I’m saying let’s be flawed. Let’s celebrate the flaws and all the mistakes we’ve made. Let’s wear them like medals across our ample bosom.”

French’s upcoming memoir will be available for purchase on October 12, 2023.

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