Comedian and actress Dawn French replaced Elizabeth Spriggs as the Fat Lady, the subject of an enchanted portrait that guarded the entrance to Gryffindor’s Tower at Hogwarts Castle in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” French’s turn as the Fat Lady was more comic than that of her predecessor — no surprise, since French was a popular comedy figure on UK television from the early 1980s to the 2020s. Many of French’s best-known performances were as part of a comedy team with Jennifer Saunders of “Absolutely Fabulous” fame.
The team of French and Saunders got their start as part of the Comic Strip. After appearing on the group’s sketch comedy series, “The Comic Strip Presents,” the duo co-starred with Tracey Ullman and Ruby Wax in “Girls on Top” before earning their own sketch comedy showcase, “French & Saunders,” in 1987. The pair later reunited for the series “Jam & Jerusalem,” provided voices for the 2009 animated feature “Coraline,” and co-starred in Kenneth Branagh’s take on “Death on the Nile” in 2022.
As a solo performer, French earned a hit with the BBC comedy series “The Vicar of Dibley,” and co-starred in numerous additional programs, including “Roger and Val Have Just Got In” with Alfred Molina, and “The Trouble with Maggie Cole” in 2020. She has also had success as a voice actor in films such as “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “The Magician’s Elephant.”