Lenny Henry & Dawn French split

Lenny Henry and Dawn French have announced they are to separate after 25 years of marriage.

In a statement, the comedians' representative Neil Reading said the couple made the decision six months ago but had continued to live together in "constant discussion".

The couple's split is "entirely amicable", he added.

The statement read: "Lenny Henry and Dawn French are sad to announce they have decided to separate after 25 years of marriage.

"They made the decision last October and since then have been living together in constant, open and honest discussion.

"The separation is entirely amicable and they fully intend to maintain their close friendship.

"Their priority is to commit to the future joint parenting of their daughter.

"They ask that the media respects the privacy of their family."

Henry, 51, and French, 52, met on the alternative comedy circuit of the early 1980s. They married in London in October 1984 and have an adopted daughter, Billie.

She is best-known for starring in and writing the sketch show French & Saunders with long-time comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, and for playing the lead role of Reverend Geraldine Grainger in the sitcom The Vicar Of Dibley.

Henry, one of Britain's most influential black comedians, rose to fame in the 1970s talent contest New Faces and legendary children's show Tiswas.

He later starred in a string of TV comedies such as Chef and The Lenny Henry Show, and last year won praise for his Shakespearean stage debut as Othello.

© Sky News 2010

Lenny Henry and Dawn French split

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