This piece of news on the weekend nearly escaped me, but oh, it’s too big not to acknowledge…
French & Saunders have announced they are parting creative company after more than 30 years. It follows news that the BBC will not renew the comedy Jam and Jerusalem.
“Audiences have enjoyed three series of Jam & Jersualem and the time felt right to make way for different ideas,” a BBC spokesperson said.
“We are already discussing new projects with Jennifer Saunders and eagerly anticipate Roger and Val starring Dawn French and Alfred Molina on BBC Two in the New Year.”
The 51-year-old friends met at Central School of Speech and Drama in 1977, and first starred together on television in Girls On Top in 1985. They went on to comedy gold with French and Saunders, Jam and Jerusalem, and separate series including Absolutely Fabulous, Murder Most Horrid, The Vicar of Dibley, Psychoville and Wild West.
They finished stage tours in the UK in 2008 and performed their first and final Australian tour in 2009. The two were also honoured by the BAFTAs last year.
Saunders said recently: “They are not making the kind of comedy we used to do – they want populist programmes. There isn’t a budget to try more ambitious things.”
French has also said previously: “There was just this gradual realisation that maybe there are other things we’d like to do; maybe it’s a young person’s game.”
Jerusalem co-star Pauline McLynn, who played Tip Haddem, wrote on her website: “It’s a blow, I’ll not lie to you. That was one of toppest jobs ever as far as I’m concerned and it breaks my heart that there’ll be no more.
“For those of you who were wondering, it was the BBC’s decision not Jen’s – she loved writing that series as much as we loved loved loved being in it.
“I think it would indeed be great if you all complained to the BBC also – it may do no good but at least they’ll know the strength of feeling out there for the show and how poor a decision we all think it is to be rid of it.”
Writer and producer Lynda La Plante has recently attacked the culture at the BBC saying its drama commissioning team would rather read a script by a “little Muslim boy” than one that she has written.