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Dawn French set to pay tribute to late actress Emma Chalmers in Vicar of Dibley reboot

Dawn French revealed she will pay tribute to late actress Emma Chalmers who played much loved actress Alice Tinker in The Vicar of Dibley festive reboot. 

Talking to Lorraine on Thursday, Dawn, 63, said: ‘There is a eulogy to Alice there which wasn’t very easy for me to film which was important for me to do.’

Emma, who starred in the sitcom for 13 years, died of natural causes, thought to be a heart attack back in February 2018.  

‘It wasn’t easy for me to film’: Dawn French told Lorraine on Thursday that she is set to pay tribute to late actress Emma Chalmers who played Alice in The Vicar of Dibley festive reboot

And while the show will no longer have those classic post-credits scenes where Geraldine Granger tells Alice a joke which she doesn’t understand, Dawn said there will be a nod to that. 

She teased: ‘We do have Hugo Horton, Alice’s husband, he is there with me, James Fleet plays him, and there is a lovely moment when I tell a joke to him and fingers crossed he might get it at last.’

Dawn previously said: ‘This has been a very shocking and sad loss. Far too young and I think we’re all still reeling a little bit from it.

Sad loss: Emma, who played Alice Tinker in the BBC show, (pictured) passed away in 2018, from natural causes, thought to be a heart attack

Sad loss: Emma, who played Alice Tinker in the BBC show, (pictured) passed away in 2018, from natural causes, thought to be a heart attack

‘My memories of working with Emma are some of my most favourite memories of my whole career. She’s a massively diligent person, much unlike [her character] Alice. 

‘She was incredibly bright. Very funny, very knowing and yet she was able to play someone who was in a different world.

She continued: ‘She didn’t play a simpleton, she played someone who had a different reality. She was incredibly authentic at that and I will miss that. 

I have to tell you, to play a clown in a way like that, it takes a lot of hard work. You have to learn things very particularly. She did it really well, really well.’ 

Tribute: Dawn told Lorraine that while the show will no longer have those classic post-credits scenes where Geraldine Granger tells Alice a joke which she doesn’t understand, there will be a nod to that

Tribute: Dawn told Lorraine that while the show will no longer have those classic post-credits scenes where Geraldine Granger tells Alice a joke which she doesn’t understand, there will be a nod to that

And talking about bringing the BBC show back amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dawn said they tried to be authentic to her character, Geraldine.

She said: ‘We asked ourselves, and by we I mean [writers] Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer and I asked ourselves, “What would Geraldine be doing in the lockdown?” 

‘And of course she would be on the webcam talking to her parishioners so that’s what we have done. 

‘We have made nine little tiny films where she, through the power of Zoom, is connecting with everybody and it’s funny and silly as she is talking to folk. 

Branching out: Dawn also spoke about her new book, Because of You, which is all about motherhood and bonds between mothers and daughters

Branching out: Dawn also spoke about her new book, Because of You, which is all about motherhood and bonds between mothers and daughters

‘She is doing a sort of newsletter and a sermon. We have tried to be light and funny but we also try to remember those who aren’t with us anymore.’

Dawn also spoke about her new book, Because of You, which is all about motherhood and bonds between mothers and daughters.

She revealed: ‘It’s about the power of magnitude of a mother’s love, which you know Lorraine, and I know, and I know because I have been so wonderfully mothered by my own mum and I have tried to copy that with my own kid.’ 

Fondly remembered: Emma Chambers pictured at a London film premiere in November 1999

Fondly remembered: Emma Chambers pictured at a London film premiere in November 1999

And on her podcast, Titting About, which she does with her pal Jennifer Saunders, she said she has learnt things about her long-time comedy partner that she had never known before.

Dawn explained: ‘She was the first person back at my house when the lockdown lifted. We had cups of tea and we had to sit outside and we thought, “What can we do?” Let’s just talk like we always do but invite listeners to join us. 

‘We had been asked in the past to do podcasts but we couldn’t quite see how to do it but there was something about the lockdown that made it completely make sense… 

‘It was very interesting, I found out quite a lot about Fatty [Dawn’s nickname for Jennifer] doing that because we thought about our childhoods and stuff. 

‘I think I know her better than most people but I found out lots of things about her that I didn’t know… 

‘Her dad had a fixation on taking them back to the same place, I think it was in Scotland where her mum was from, took them for family holiday and she went swimming a lot in raw sewage!’

The upcoming three 10 minute episodes of The Vicar Of Dibley will air weekly, with a 30 minute compilation episode of all three sermons airing later over Christmas.       

While show originally aired from 1994 to 1998, the series returned for various specials before officially concluding in 2007, but has briefly headed back to screens for various shorts in aid of Comic Relief.

Lorraine weekdays from 9am on ITV

Pals: And on her podcast, Titting About, which she does with her pal Jennifer Saunders, Dawn said she has learnt things about her long-time comedy partner that she had never known before (pictured together in 2016)

Pals: And on her podcast, Titting About, which she does with her pal Jennifer Saunders, Dawn said she has learnt things about her long-time comedy partner that she had never known before (pictured together in 2016) 

 

 


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