Tuesday, 13 November 2012

I Love The 90s: French and Saunders

Watching 'The Comic Strip presents Five Go to Rehab' the other day got me all nostalgic for a bit of the classic female comedy double act French and Saunders. Although they started in the early 80s, it was in the 90s that I first found French and Saunders and feel they were at their best, not only when the duo were on top form together but also separately with 'The Vicar of Dibley' and 'Absolutely Fabusous', two of my favourite sitcoms ever. So now I'm taking a look back over the comedy pairs 90s escapades, care to join me?

"Somewhere between crap and mediocre, lies French and Saunders"
"French and Saunders ba ba do eh ooh" came into their own by season three of their show, which arrived in 1990. They had already become known very early on for their film parodies, which by the way they did better than anyone else, and that helped the duos popularity grow from strength to strength. With the higher audience numbers came a much higher production budget; so much so that these parodies could be held up alongside the originals and look almost spot on. It helps massively that Jennifer Saunders is an amazing actress and has an incredible ability to mimic and look like anyone. Her performance as Jodie Foster in 'The Silence of the Lambs' parody was so spot on, it was uncanny, and Dawn French's Hannibal Lecter  was so ridicules it just worked. I loved it, I mean the way they turned a police murder investigation into producing a new comedy show was inspired and is some of their best work. 

"What did the crankies say to you?"
"They said fan dabby dozy"
Films weren't the only thing that got the French and Saunders treatment, popular TV shows of the time like 'The House of Eliott' and 'Dr Quin, Medicine Woman' ("She's sleeping now") but my personal favourite has to be their take on 'Baywatch'. Seeing Dawn French's facial expressions as Pamela Anderson were wonderfully funny and seeing her put on her lip line is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. How they used body doubles was genius. But it was the Hollywood classics, both old and new, that proved to be the most popular; 'Gone with the Wind', 'The Exorcist' even 'The Seventh Seal' all got their own French and Saunders version. But my personal favourite and in my opinion, their best work, has to be 'Titanic'.
"I'm the make up artist on Titanic. What? I got a deal, with Faxmactor."
"Ahoy there, all aboard the Titanic" When they made 'Titanic' for their 1998 Christmas special, they found a formula that they would stick to for their future parodies. A mockumentary of the making of the film they parody. It was hilariously hosted by French and Saunders regular Joanna Lumly who took us behind the scenes, as the cast, crew, the recurring Australian special effects team and even extras got interviewed. The best of these for me was the director James Macaroon, swearing angrily at everyone and demanding they "Sparkle!" while brandishing a shotgun. This was so 90s, even Cher's number one hit 'Believe' made an appearance,  as Saunder's Rose sings it on her 'single' door, much to French's Jake's dismay. The pair continued to do specials well into the 2000s;  I remember really looking forward to them, it became a Christmas tradition to see these two ladies together or separately each year. They went on to spoof 'Lord of the Rings, 'Harry Potter' and 'Kill Bill' to name a few. Their last outing together saw them do 'Mama Mia', a great final bow.
"You're a woman, Harry."
These parodies weren't the only thing these two got up to. One of my favourite aspects of the duos sketch shows is the white room, which is supposedly Jennifer's home where she just wants to sit down,  relax and read a magazine but is unfortunately continually bothered by Dawn, usually in some absurd costume. What I love most about the white room is that its just  the two of them and nothing more, a stark contrast to the high production budget of the parodies. Maybe that's why, they spent all the money so they couldn't afford anything more. But it's what made them great and what made the British public fall in love with them.
"Jen, Jen, Jen, I suspect an organ grinder penetrated me on my holiday, because look at my baby!"
Their sketches made fun of celebrity, pop culture and anything that was big and relevant at the time. I loved them as school kids talking in the playground, pissing the teacher off in the class room, and their music video parodies were great. Remember the ever expanding sisters of The Corrs? Poor Jim. One of my favourite recurring jokes is the implication that neither of the two can carry an accent. 
"Are you going to do the accent?"
"I am doing it. How are yee?"
I love their parodies but mostly their white room sketches; it's the two of them stripped down and at their best. Jennifer takes a more stern role; she seems almost lazy and reluctant to get involved some times and seems to have a great dislike of Dawns antics, taking herself too seriously without being serious at all. Dawn acts as almost a polar opposite, not only in her brash, loud and silly antics but also her appearance. She's very good a physical comedy, using her body to her advantage and never becoming a joke herself. She has so much charisma and likeability that it's impossible not to fall in love with this woman. Together they create magic and have made some of the best T.V I've ever seen. I love French and Saunders.
What do you think, let me know? feel free to comment, follow, like, share and plus. Thanks


  1. I love them both but I do hope you're going to do more posts about them - Murder Most Horrid anyone?

  2. You just have to wait and see what pops up in next few weeks, you may be very pleased, or you may just be very disappointed.