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Bafta honour French and Saunders

20 April 09 16:59 GMT

Comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are to receive a Bafta Fellowship at the academy's 2009 television awards.

They will be the second double-act to win the prestigious award, following Morecambe and Wise, who were honoured in 1999.

As well as their BBC sketch series, the duo are also responsible for Absolutely Fabulous and Vicar of Dibley.

They were last seen on Comic Relief, spoofing the hit Mamma Mia! movie.

The sketch ended with Saunders, in character as Meryl Streep, saying to her comedy partner: "I thought we'd retired?". The duo performed a stage show, Still Alive, billed as their swansong at the end of 2008.

Their 27-year-long television career began as part of the alternative comedy troupe The Comic Strip, which ran in tandem with their ITV series Girls On Top - a female version of The Young Ones, also starring Ruby Wax and Tracey Ullman.

But they are probably best known for their movie parodies - where Silence Of The Lambs featured comedy act The Krankies, and The Exorcist which contained the line: "Your mother sucks jelly babies in hell".

Vicar of Dibley creator Richard Curtis described the pair as the UK's "best ever double act".

He said: "The great thing about French and Saunders is that they have never lost that edginess and weirdness. You often watch them and think they are profoundly strange.

"They started under the banner of alternative comedy but when they moved to BBC One in the 1980s they saw no reason why they should tone down the act or constrain themselves."

Joanna Lumley, who starred opposite Saunders in Absolutely Fabulous, said: "It is brilliant news. I obviously know them and adore them and I can't think of anyone more worthy of the honour."

The Bafta TV Awards take place on Sunday, 26 April and will be broadcast on BBC One.

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