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Comedians Lenny Henry and Dawn French separate

6 April 10 18:29 GMT

Comedians Lenny Henry and Dawn French are to separate after 25 years of marriage, their spokesman has said.

Neil Reading said they had made the decision in October but continued to live together in "constant discussion".

The split was "entirely amicable" and the pair hoped the media would respect "the privacy of their family", he said.

Henry, now 51, and French, 52, met in 1981 on the Comic Strip team. They married in Westminster in 1984 and have an adopted daughter, Billie, 18.

'Close friendship'

The statement said: "Lenny Henry and Dawn French are sad to announce they have decided to separate after 25 years of marriage.

"They made the decision last October and since then have been living together in constant, open and honest discussion.

"The separation is entirely amicable and they fully intend to maintain their close friendship.

"Their priority is to commit to the future joint parenting of their daughter."

No further comment will be made, the statement said.

French went to school in Plympton, Devon and the couple own a waterside mansion in Fowey, Cornwall.

The pair met in 1981 when Henry became involved with the Comic Strip team - one of whom was French.

French was initially critical of his stand-up routines, but despite their negative first impressions of each other, the couple got engaged, marrying in 1984 at St Paul's Church in London's Covent Garden.

French is best known for her comedy series including her collaboration with Jennifer Saunders. Their French and Saunders sketch show began in 1987.

From the 1990s she had success with Murder Most Horrid and The Vicar of Dibley.

Henry made his TV debut winning talent competition New Faces in 1975, aged 18. The Lenny Henry Show ran for a decade from 1984.

Last year he won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Othello on the London stage.

He is also one of the founding figures of Comic Relief.

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