Joanna Lumley talks Ab Fab revival and Jennifer Saunders’ cancer battle

by Lynn Connolly

Joanna Lumley, who of course plays boozy Patsy Stone in Ab Fab, has been telling the Daily Mirror how it felt to be back on the set of the hit sitcom.

And she told how proud she is of her friend, Ab Fab’s creator, Jennifer Saunders for how she’s fought back after being diagnosed with cancer.

As fans of the show will know, Absolutely Fabulous returns to our screens on Christmas Day – with the first of three new episodes – to commemorate twenty years of the sitcom, and Joanna explained that as she sat in make-up, getting Patsy’s bouffant and her bold red lipstick applied, that it seemed like “only yesterday” since she last played her alter ego.

65 year old Joanne said, “As soon as my hair was up I thought, ‘Yes! Patsy’s back’.

“It seems like yesterday that we were making the pilot for Absolutely Fabulous and wondering if it would ever be a hit…

“So to be back filming with the girls two decades later really was fabulous.

“Jennifer and I walked on set in costume as Eddy and Patsy and kept looking at each other and going, ‘20 years – where has that gone?’

“We had a ball. We forged such great affection for each other when we first started working on the show and that fondness and respect was still there.”

And when asked if Patsy has changed at all since we last saw her, Joanna said, “I love playing Patsy – and she hasn’t changed.

“She’s still got friends in dark places and is still elegantly dressed, even if she does go a bit downhill after a few drinks.

“She is decaying more but you don’t actually know how old Patsy is.”

Later in the interview, and of Jennifer’s battle with breast cancer, Joanna said, “Jennifer is just terrific. She just shrugged her illness off and got on with her writing.

“She didn’t want people to feel sorry for her. She is just such an amazing woman.”

As mentioned, the first new episode of Ab Fab is on BBC1 on Christmas Day at 10pm, but in the meantime, click here to see preview clips and to read some spoilers for the new episodes.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.