Entertainment

Jennifer Saunders reveals she turned down an OBE because it ‘didn’t feel right’

Jennifer Saunders has revealed the touching reason why she turned down an OBE from The Queen in 2001.

The Absolutely Fabulous star, 62, declined the offer alongside her comedy partner Dawn French because it ‘didn’t feel right’ after her own father Robert received a CBE for his work as a Royal Air Force pilot.

Jennifer explained she felt accepting the Queen’s offer ‘made a mockery’ of being given such a prestigious honour and felt there were others in the world who deserved it more.

Explanation: Jennifer Saunders has revealed the touching reason why she turned down an OBE from The Queen in 2001 (pictured in March 2020)

Speaking to Best Magazine, Jennifer explained her father was given the honour for his tireless work in the Royal Air Force.

She explained: ‘My father, Robert, was a pilot in the Royal Air Force and was awarded a CBE,’ she explained.

‘He got it and he deserved it. He worked really hard and he was a brilliant man and he did an awful lot. But we just jumped up on stage, messed about, and made money.’

Turning it down: The actress declined the offer alongside her comedy partner Dawn French (pictured in 2017) because it 'didn't feel right' after her father Robert received a CBE

Turning it down: The actress declined the offer alongside her comedy partner Dawn French (pictured in 2017) because it ‘didn’t feel right’ after her father Robert received a CBE

Jennifer added: ‘We thought, ”there’s a lot of people who deserve these things” and for us to get it sort of made it a mockery. There are people who work for the NHS or do great charity work and we hadn’t really done anything. It was silly.’

Back in 2011 Jennifer further explained why both she and Dawn declined their offers to receive OBEs for ‘for services to comedy drama.’

She told The Guardian: ‘We felt that we were being paid very well to have a lot of fun. It didn’t seem right somehow. We didn’t deserve a pat on the back.

‘It felt a bit fake to stand alongside people who devoted their lives to truly worthy causes.’

Views: She said: 'There are people who work for the NHS or do great charity work and we hadn't really done anything. It was silly'

Views: She said: ‘There are people who work for the NHS or do great charity work and we hadn’t really done anything. It was silly’ 

It comes after Jennifer admitted that her iconic sitcom Absolutely Fabulous would never be commissioned today, because the new ‘woke’ mind-set has changed comedy and people now ‘talk themselves out’ of telling any controversial jokes.

‘Yes I think it has changed comedy like what we used to make. I think we would probably talk ourselves out of most of it now,’ she said during a talk at the Garrick Theatre. ‘It would be like, ‘We won’t have a good answer so let’s not do that.’

‘I think people do talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive in a funny way and what could be made to seem sensitive and it stops a lot of the fun maybe like jokes. I remember jokes. Silly jokes and stuff.’ 

Too much for Gen Z? It comes after Jennifer admitted her iconic sitcom Absolutely Fabulous would never be commissioned today, because the new 'woke' mind-set has changed comedy

Too much for Gen Z? It comes after Jennifer admitted her iconic sitcom Absolutely Fabulous would never be commissioned today, because the new ‘woke’ mind-set has changed comedy

Jennifer said that when she first started her comedy act French and Saunders alongside Dawn French, it was a reaction to some of the more old-fashioned comedians who were considered ‘sexist and racist.’

She said: ‘I do think people are more wary of what they say and do now, certainly.

‘And probably some of it is not bad as when we started as alternative comedians it was a sort of a reaction against the mainstream comedians who were considered sexist and racist. 

‘There is always a backlash against stuff.’ The writer and actress said that it’s ‘not a crime to have an opinion’ but it is starting to become so in modern society.

Classic: Ab Fab lasted five seasons and continued on TV in the form of one-off special episodes until 2012. It then spawned a movie in 2016

Classic: Ab Fab lasted five seasons and continued on TV in the form of one-off special episodes until 2012. It then spawned a movie in 2016

She said: ‘What p***** me off? Quite a lot of stuff actually. I get p***** off by people and gentle criticism all the time. This is a modern thing isn’t it?

‘If someone says something it always has to be, ‘Oh, but sorry. You can’t say that.’ I say, ‘Oh f*** off.’

‘It’s not a crime to have an opinion or say something. It is always so petty and small mindedness p***** me off, bigotry and small mindedness.’   

Despite its continued popularity and cult following, Miss Saunders said that they are unlikely to make any more anytime soon.

‘I think Ab Fab is unlikely to be honest. We are old. Bed. I mean I suppose it could but it would be a series more than a film. I don’t know,’ she said.

‘And French and Saunders the same. Dawn likes to write books and I like to do my garden. It’s hard to do those things as there is an expectation.’ 

Gone are the days of silly: 'I think people do talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive. It stops a lot of the fun, maybe, like jokes,' Jennifer said

Gone are the days of silly: ‘I think people do talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive. It stops a lot of the fun, maybe, like jokes,’ Jennifer said


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