A British comedy sketch show that was widely popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, French and Saunders was given one of the highest budgets in BBC history to create detailed spoofs and satires of popular culture, movies, celebrities and art. The duo continue to film holiday specials for the BBC, and both have been successful starring in their own shows. French went on to star in The Vicar of Dibley. Saunders won a BAFTA, an Emmy Award and international acclaim for writing and playing the lead role of Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous, which led to her minor cameo roles in the American sitcoms Roseanne and Friends.
This series provides examples of:
- Cross-Cast Role: Many of the parodies involve Dawn and/or Jen playing male characters, for example Dawn as Gandalf and Jen as Frodo; Dawn as Obi-Wan, Jen as Qui-Gon; or Dawn as Slash, Jen as Axl.
- The Dung Ages: Featured in one of the regular sketches.
- English Rose: Parodied in a fake commercial for an actress advertising a how-to book, as the way she exploits her career is most definitely not the way an English Rose is supposed to act.
- Lampshade Hanging: In the Gone with the Wind parody, they talk about how bad Scarlett's accent is.
- Laugh Track: A sketch (featuring Dame Helen Mirren and Julia Sawalha) parodying sitcoms had the incessant laugh track constantly interrupting the already terrible punchlines, ruining the timing of the actors by cutting them off when they were speaking, until they got annoyed and walked off the sketch.
- Long Runner: 20 years, not counting the 2009 Comic Relief special.
- Parody: They did a series of parodies of films such What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Gone with the Wind.
- Parody Assistance: A sketch parodying Doctor Who (featuring two extras playing alien guards having a Seinfeldian Conversation while the set is redressed) was actually shot on the set of "Trial of the Timelord"; the Doctor Who season being made at the time.
- Playing a Tree
- Show Within a Show: The first series followed the (fictional) unbelievably low-budget cringey 'French & Saunders Show' that consisted of frequent epic fails. This got increasingly meta; for instance one Season 4 episode is based around a Thelma & Louise pastiche, in which the story is that they're filming a Thelma & Louise pastiche, but get stopped by an actual policeman, and much to Jen's horror, Dawn decides to keep going with the plot of the film.
- Stylistic Suck: The fictional French & Saunders Show in general, and many of the parodies in particular (for instance, in the parody of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, when the Forced Perspective used to make Frodo seem noticably smaller than Gandalf keeps on not quite working.)
- Spiritual Successor: Consider this a live action The Muppet Show.note
- Time-Shifted Actor: In the Star Wars parody, Toby-Jugs Kenobi (French) wants to know if she'll grow up to become Alec Guinness.
- Wallpaper Camouflage: Played for laughs in a sketch parodying some current Costume Drama. Part of a pair of curtains turn out to be our heroines' voluminous dresses.