Jennifer Saunders turned down OBE because she felt accepting would make 'mockery' of prestigious honour

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LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Comedian and Writer, Jennifer Saunders is interviewed after taking part in a Silent Stand at Gielgud Theatre on October 05, 2020 in London, England. The stand is to show solidarity with those in the UK theatre and to protest against the increased restrictions taking place in the events sector following the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Jennifer Saunders revealed her own father's CBE prompted her to turn down an honour from the Queen. (Getty Images)

Jennifer Saunders has said she turned down an OBE because she didn't want to make a "mockery" of her own father's honour from the Queen.

The Absolutely Fabulous star and her comedy partner Dawn French both turned down OBEs in 2001 and now Saunders has explained they didn't feel services to "comedy drama" warranted such an honour.

The 62-year-old comedian told Best magazine: "My father, Robert, was a pilot in the Royal Air Force and was awarded a CBE.

Read more: Celebrities who have turned down honours from the Queen

"He got it and he deserved it. He worked really hard and he was a brilliant man and he did an awful lot. But we just jumped up on stage, messed about, and made money.'

Watch: Jennifer Saunders campaigns to help the UK theatre industry amid pandemic

"We thought, 'there's a lot of people who deserve these things' and for us to get it sort of made it a mockery. 

"There are people who work for the NHS or do great charity work and we hadn't really done anything. It was silly."

Despite her comments, French and Saunders have long been involved in fundraising for Comic Relief – a charity co-founded by 63-year-old French's ex-husband Lenny Henry.

Saunders has also previously said accepting an OBE would have felt "fake".

She told Source magazine in 2008: "At the time, we felt that we were being paid very well to have a lot of fun. It felt a bit fake to stand alongside people who devoted their lives to truly worthy causes."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 02:  Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders arrive ahead of the Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Melbourne premiere at Village Cinemas Crown on August 2, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Jennifer Saunders' Ab Fab co-star Joanna Lumley (right) accepted an OBE in 1995. (Getty Images)

Saunders met French at drama college and the two became friends and launched a successful comedy career together in the 80s.

As well as their award-winning sketch show French And Saunders, Saunders is best known for starring with Joanna Lumley – who accepted her own OBE in 1995 – in long-running sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.

Read more: Jennifer Saunders forced to deny writing anti-NHS rant circulating on social media

Saunders – who has three daughters with comedian husband Adrian Edmondson – battled breast cancer in 2009.

Last year it was revealed she is to front new ITV talk show Memory Lane, where she drives around in a 1960s E-Type Jaguar chatting to celebrities about their childhoods.

Watch: Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley vows to never retire

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