Lenny Henry and Dawn French to split up

Tue Apr 6, 2010 9:46pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - British comedians Lenny Henry and Dawn French are to separate after 25 years of marriage, their spokesman said on Tuesday.

The couple made their decision to split up last October and have since been "living together in constant, open and honest discussion," spokesman Neil Reading said in a statement.

"The separation is entirely amicable and they fully intend to maintain their close friendship," it said. "Their priority is to commit to the future joint parenting of their daughter."

The comics, who married in London in 1984 and adopted their daughter Billie in 1991, gave no details about their separation.

French, 52, wrote in her bestselling autobiography that their marriage was "buffeted by a tornado" when tabloid newspapers published details of their relationship in 1999.

In media interviews, both have refused to comment in detail on the accounts given in the newspapers.

French said her 51-year-old husband made "grave errors of judgment" which led to a decision to "pull tighter, hold each other, unite, hold hands and walk through the storm together."

They met in the early 1980s when new alternative comedians began replacing established older performers on television.

Henry emerged on the talent show "New Faces" before working on the children's program "Tiswas" and the sketch show "Three of a Kind." He went on to have his own comedy series on the BBC and has recently appeared on stage as Shakespeare's Othello.

French starred in the Channel 4 comedy "The Comic Strip Presents..." before joining comedian Jennifer Saunders in the popular long-running BBC comedy "French & Saunders."

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths, editing by Tim Pearce)

<p>British comedian Lenny Henry arrives at the world premiere of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" at the Royal Albert Hall in central London December 7, 2005. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>