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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Golden Rose for French and Saunders
Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French
The pair met at a London drama school in 1977
British comedy duo Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French are to receive an honorary Golden Rose at the Montreux TV festival on 27 April.

The award is "in special recognition of their work and career", said a Golden Rose festival spokeswoman.

They will be the first women to receive the award, also known as the Rose d'Or d'Honneur, in the festival's history.

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders
Their spoofs have included Lord of the Rings
Previous recipients have included Benny Hill and Monty Python in 1985, and the BBC in 1997.

French and Saunders, whose regular shows on BBC One are one of the station's biggest comedy draws, met at London's Central School of Speech and Drama in 1977.

French, born in Wales in 1957, and Saunders, born in Lincolnshire in 1958, were both training to be teachers.

Responding to a classified ad, they joined a team of young comedians known as the Comic Strip who became one of the biggest influences on British TV comedy in the 1980s.

The first Comic Strip film, Five Go Mad in Dorset, a spoof of the Famous Five series, was part of the line-up on Channel 4's first night of broadcasting in 1982.

Dawn French
The Vicar Of Dibley: Another hit role for French
French and Saunders began appearing regularly in their own right on the BBC variety show Entertainers in 1983.

The duo were later offered their own sketch show by the BBC.

French And Saunders has since become one of the BBC's most-loved comedy shows, noted for its parodies of films and other TV genres.

Since the start of the 1990s the pair have also worked on their own projects.

Saunders created and starred in the critically acclaimed sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, while French took the lead in comedy drama series Murder Most Horrid.

French also starred in the sitcom The Vicar of Dibley, written by Richard Curtis.

Jennifer Saunders
Absolutely Fabulous was an international hit
French is married to comedian Lenny Henry, while Saunders is married to her old Comic Strip colleague Ade Edmondson.

The 42nd Golden Rose TV festival takes place in Montreux, Switzerland from Tuesday 23 to Sunday 28 April and includes programmes from 25 countries.

The UK has the greatest number of entries nominated for awards, with Germany in second place.

The festival's Grand Jury is chaired by Peter Bennett-Jones of the UK independent production house Tiger Aspect Productions - producers of last year's Golden Rose winner, Lenny Henry in Pieces.

See also:

17 Apr 02 | TV and Radio
French and Saunders' best impressions
07 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
Pop Idol battles Norton at Montreux
07 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
Golden Rose 2002: UK nominees
31 Aug 01 | Reviews
Absolutely spot on
01 May 01 | TV and Radio
The real Lenny Henry
09 May 00 | Entertainment
BBC admits Royle mistake
30 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Golden Rose for Henry
28 Apr 99 | Entertainment
UK blossoms at Golden Rose awards
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