Dawn French ‘terrified’ real hippo was going to mount her on Harry Potter set
Posted by  badge Boss on Dec 15, 2023 - 05:36AM
Dawn French had a run in with a hippo on the set of Harry Potter (Picture: Warner Bros/ Getty Images)

got on the set of Harry Potter when she encountered a curious hippopotamus.

If you’re not sure which bit we’re referring to,appeared in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the incredibly vocal Fat Lady in the Gryffindor common room doorway painting.

It was her responsibility to let students with the password in, and keep those without it – like the ahem, villain of the film Sirius Black – out.

When confronted by Black, played by Gary Oldman, the French and Saunders legend fled into another Hogwarts painting – which just happened to be home to a hippo.

Many viewers would naturally assume this was a fake hippo. CGI, perhaps. Oh no, it was a real hippo, as Dawn discovered when she arrived on set having only been asked if she minded working with animals.

The comedian was playing the Fat Lady in the franchise (Picture: Alan Chapman/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

What ensued was a whole load of confusion when Dawn was warned by the animal handler that the beast could try to sniff her privates and mate with her.

She was told to watch out for the hippo’s skin becoming foamy, which is a sure sign the water-wader was feeling a little lively – to which Dawn was ‘genuinely terrified’.

Luckily, there was no foam in sight, and the hippo did not try to mount poor Dawn. However, it did sniff her privates, she admitted.

James Acaster and Ed Gamble were in hysterics when Dawn divulged the bizarre tale on the Christmas episode of the . But there was a surprising twist to the tale, which no one saw coming. Not even Dawn.

The encounter left her ‘genuinely terrified’ – but it all turned out fine in the end when producers missed out a tiny detail about the hippo (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

She told the comedians: ‘I was asked if I was happy to work with animals, and then I was told by the director that there was a hippo. I just said yes because I wanted to be in the film. Didn’t think about it until the day… when I was left in a pen with sawdust.

‘He said that they were going to be bringing in a live creature. “Pay it some respect, stand still, do not run, did I understand?” He then explained that the script called for a female hippo, but this was a male hippo.

‘Then he said, “This hippo may want to sniff your privates. Do not run.” I was wavering then, because I thought, I don’t think that’s part of the contract. When you said, “Do you like working with animals, I wasn’t imagining this.” This is too much.

‘Then he said, “This hippo may want to mate with you, and if he does, his skin will start to foam. Be on alert, look out for that, tell me, but do not run.” Then I thought, “Oh God, I’d like to run now.”‘

However, once Dawn saw the size of the animal, all of her fears fizzled away.

‘It was the size of a Labrador!’ she quipped. ‘The word they had all neglected to use concerning the hippo was pygmy. It was a pygmy hippo.’

Classic French.