The Headmistress

Two drama students recreate French and Saunders’ 1990 sketch ‘The Headmistress’.

Martyn has been in touch to remind me of yet another connection between Dawn French and spanking. Along with her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, she did a sketch set in an assembly at a girl’s school. Jennifer plays a cane-wielding megalomaniac headmistress and Dawn is Miss Barnes her deputy. The sketch never made it on to their TV show, but it was a part of their live tour in 1990 and recorded for DVD.

As the headmistress works herself up into a frenzy, she demands to see every single girl in the school in her office where she will “whip down their panties and smash some sense in to their bottoms!”

At this point, Miss Barnes asks: “Can I volunteer for that punishment too?!”

Miss DinesAn extra layer of interest is provided by the fact that Jennifer based the character on  Janet Dines,  her own headmistress from her 1970s schooldays.

Serious educational historians will be aware that in 1976 Miss Dines was prosecuted after she had caned a girl three times on the bottom for eating crisps during a maths lesson. The case was withdrawn and magistrates dismissed the charge after it emerged that the girl had a history of bad behaviour.

Martyn says the original French and Saunders clip used to be on Youtube but it’s been removed. Can anyone reupload it? The guy in the video above does a decent job and gets some laughs but he is more like a wicked witch complete with crooked nose. I am thinking Jennifer’s performance might be a little more nuanced.

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