London - Dawn French made headlines when she shed seven-and-a-half stone (47.6kg) from her famously roly-poly figure.

Now she has admitted putting two stone (12.7kg) back on, blaming a weakness for bread, pasta and potatoes.

But far from feeling mortified about the gain, the 55-year-old comedy star says she has accepted that she will always be on the large side.

“I am perfectly happy with how I look and I always have been. I’ll always be a fat girl and I am happy with that,” she said.

French was 19 stone (120.6kg) before she went on a strict diet that included cutting out chocolate and carbohydrates.

In interviews at the time she said that entering her fifties had made her more health conscious.

The Vicar Of Dibley star divorced comedian Lenny Henry in 2010 after 25 years of marriage.

She has been in a relationship with twice-married charity executive Mark Bignell, 49, for nearly a year.

French has said that falling in love has given her a new lease of life, and hinted in an interview with Woman magazine that she started to put the weight back on following a romantic trip to Paris with Mr Bignell.

“I’ve lost seven-and-a-half stone since I started making an effort and recently put about two back on,” she said.

“I lost the weight by denying myself quite a lot of things and recently I haven’t denied those things as much. Bread and pasta and potatoes are my weakness.

“I went to Paris recently and I wasn’t going to not eat bread!”

But French, who has a 20-year-old daughter, Billie, added that since losing the weight, she is conscious of following a healthier lifestyle because her body has been one of the hallmarks of her success.

“Generally I eat much more healthily and I eat less, probably half as much as I did before,” she said.

“I am very fond of this body – it’s served me well and it’s never disappointed me. I understand it, I know it and I even like it now it’s all saggy, it’s a mark of my journey this far.”

Bignell, whom French has described as a “remarkable man”, is chief executive of a Plymouth-based charity which helps drug and alcohol abusers reintegrate into society. - Daily Mail