Was his increasingly successful career to blame for the comedy couple’s separation?
Since announcing the end of their 25-year marriage this week, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive in speculation as to what sparked the downward spiral for Dawn French and Lenny Henry.
While friends of the celebrity couple yesterday were suggesting that Dawn was never fully able to get over Lenny’s previous infidelity, a source close to the pair is now suggesting that their professional lives were in fact to blame.
Alison Bowyer, Dawn’s unofficial biographer, has this morning suggested to the Daily Mail that it was perhaps Lenny’s recent career success that may have been the final catalyst for the split.
‘The truth is that a dramatic shift in the balance of power between the couple may have signalled the death knell of their relationship,’ she says.
‘Dawn, for so long the more successful and confident of the two, has in the past couple of years seen her husband’s career hit new heights while hers, to be blunt, has been on the wane.’
The pair’s last public outing together saw Dawn playing the proud wife at the Evening Standard Awards in November, where Lenny was presented a prestigious award for his critically-acclaimed portrayal of Othello.
According to Alison, this final display of togetherness, in fact, took place after they decided to separate in secret, back in October.
She suggests that ‘while Dawn was naturally proud of her husband, she was nonetheless bound to suffer’ with ‘more than a frisson of professional envy at his success.’
‘It is treading the boards that is, she feels, what real acting is all about,’ she adds. ‘It pains her considerably that she has failed to win any recognition as a serious actress.’
Ms Bowyer then continues to say that it’s been ‘an open secret‘ within their circle of friends for some time that ‘all was not well with the marriage.’
‘To all intents and purposes, they have been living separate lives for a long time but, I am told, they were keen to retain a united front for the sake of their adopted daughter Billie.’
Unable to conceive naturally, Dawn and Lenny adopted Billie, now 18, back in 1991.
‘It is significant that they felt brave enough to call an end to their marriage only when Billie turned 18,’ Alison adds.
The pair are currently on holiday together with their daughter, in an attempt to protect her from the mass media publicity surrounding their official separation announcement.