WARM and friendly Dawn French shows her motherly side as we chat in her hotel suite, plumping up sofa cushions and offering refreshments.
“Do you want a cup of tea or something to eat?” she says. I tell her I’m fine.
“Well I haven’t had any lunch so if you don’t mind I’ll crack into these,” she says, pulling something out of the mini-bar.
For a moment I expect a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and a big bar of something gorgeous.
After all, the comedienne once said: “There are two types of women... those who like chocolates and complete bitches.”
But the artist formerly known as “roly-poly Dawn” empties a small pot of cashews on to a plate alongside half a dozen grapes.
It’s no secret that the Vicar of Dibley star has recently lost a whopping seven-and-a-half stones. But it’s only when you see her in the flesh that you realise how incredible her weight loss has been.
As she plonks down on the settee to chat I struggle not to stare at her svelte figure or gape at that firm jawline.
And I have to stop myself checking if those famous bosoms are still where they should be.
But Dawn is used to being gawped at. And although she genuinely cannot understand why people care about her size, she just smiles and waits for the inevitable, “So, how much have you lost now then?”
“I really don’t know,” she tells me, (clearly meaning “I don’t give a toss”). “I’ve never been a scales-gazer.
"I had lost about seven-and-a-half stone but then I put a bit on because I ate at Christmas and I haven’t really weighed myself since.
“So I’d guess it’s about six-and-a-half stones. I just did less eating and more exercising and I’ve kept that up. But I have more treats now.
“Christmas was very difficult because there were potatoes and hot sausage rolls and lovely things everywhere.
“I’m not a big drinking person and hardly ever have alcohol. Perhaps it’s not sweet enough for my sweet tooth.
"I have chocolate in the house but I avoid it because I like it too much and I’m weak willed.
So it is best for me to see it as ‘against the law’. Except at Christmas time.”
Dawn, 54, pops another grape into her mouth as I explain the recent row about the new version of Milk Tray chocolates... and how the orange cremes have been replaced by truffles that taste like air-freshener.
“Really? That’s terrible,” she says. “I loved the lime barrel. That was great, wasn’t it?
“And remember the James Bond bloke in the adverts? I always thought he was a bit too glamorous for Milk Tray.”
For years Dawn was the unrepentant poster girl for chocoholics and even advertised her favourite brand, telling TV viewers: “They’re not Terry’s, they’re mine.”
So what made her decide to step away from the sweetie cupboard and lose weight?...