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Dawn French and Darcey Bussell reminisce over Vicar Of Dibley ballet sketch

Dawn French and Darcey Bussell reunite to reminisce over classic Vicar of Dibley sketch (Ian West/PA)
Dawn French and Darcey Bussell reunite to reminisce over classic Vicar of Dibley sketch (Ian West/PA)

Dawn French and Dame Darcey Bussell have reunited to reminisce about their famous ballet sketch in The Vicar Of Dibley 25 years on, and said it helped to demonstrate dance is “there for everybody”.

The comedian and the former Strictly Come Dancing judge teamed up online to talk about the scene and share what they learned from taking dance classes for a festive fundraiser for the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD).

The classic moment from the BBC sitcom sees dancing star Dame Darcey perform an elegant ballet routine which French mimics but adds her own comedic spin to the performance when she becomes exasperated, and takes charge, making the dancer follow her moves instead.

French said: “When I came to work on this sketch with Darcey, everything I knew about ballet was what I had loved as a child at ballet class. 

“My brother remembers this as little hippopotamuses running about – but in my head I was beautiful, lithe, free, I could express myself and I was appreciated by everybody, and I was able to be as unique as I wanted to be inside this discipline.

“It freed me up to feel graceful, and to feel fit, and it made me very happy. Through Darcey, I got to enter this world again and live vicariously through her and through these sketches.

“It was so wonderful to reminisce with Darcey about this for the Royal Academy of Dance. To this day, I am grateful for having taken dance classes.”

French starred as Rev Geraldine Granger in BBC sitcom The Vicar Of Dibley, which ran from 1994 to 2000 and then intermittently for specials up until the most recent in 2020.

In the reunion conversation, the pair reflected on what they had learnt from each other and their respective crafts, as well as sharing some backstage anecdotes from the making of the ballet sketch.

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Dawn French played the lead role in the BBC’s The Vicar Of Dibley (BBC/PA)

Dame Darcey, president of RAD, added: “There is so much comedy in ballet and we forget about that. You have to have range and be diverse, so this performance in The Vicar Of Dibley was a huge step in my career.

“Through my conversation with Dawn, I was reminded that dance really helps break down barriers. It’s an experience. It’s not always ‘the show’.

“It’s how you feel and how it changes how you express yourself. It is there for everybody. This sketch 25 years ago helped to demonstrate that and it is a message I continue to share with the Royal Academy of Dance.

“I really realised the opportunity to revisit these wonderful – and very funny – memories with Dawn, and to hear how ballet and dance have played such a pivotal role in her life and career.”

Tickets can be bought at the Royal Academy of Dance to watch the full online event, called Sparkling Conversations.

A recording of the full conversation will be released on December 13 and will be available to watch until January 28.

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