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Ab Fab: A minute with June Whitfield and Joanna Lumley

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Fiona Wickham Fiona Wickham | 09:29 UK time, Friday, 23 December 2011

Twenty years after the first broadcast, Absolutely Fabulous is back on BBC One on Christmas Day - in the first of three 30-minute special episodes.

June Whitfield and Joanna Lumley had a brief moment to answer some questions about the new series, written by and starring Jennifer Saunders.


Bubble (Jane Horrocks), Saffy (Julia Sawalha), Edina (Jennifer Saunders), Mother (June Whitfield) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley)

What was your first thought when you were asked to make the 20th anniversary specials?
June: Hooray!
Joanna: I thought hurrah! Back with the old team again! Back to the delights of playing Patsy again!

How long did you think about it for before saying yes?
June: Two seconds.
Joanna: A nanosecond!

Twenty years on, how would you describe Edina and Mother's relationship now?
June: As ever, Eddy can't wait to be rid of Mother - but Mother is somehow always there.

What has changed and what has endured about Patsy?
Joanna: She is much the same as ever: hair, fab clothes, ghastly habits, keen on a tincture, best friends with Eddy.

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Edina and Patsy go shopping

What was the funniest moment in making the specials - on or off camera?
June: Just watching Jennifer, Joanna, Jane and Julia and the studio audience reaction - tremendous.
Joanna: Watching the others inhabiting their characters. Julia is as bad at corpsing as ever.

Jennifer is said to be generous about including new script suggestions during shooting. Did you suggest any lines to be added to the script?
Joanna: We all suggest things; Jennifer selects what she wants or leaves things at the wayside.
June: I added only one small one: "Nothing for the car boot sale then."

Are you going to watch the show like the rest of us on Christmas evening?
June: Depending on what my family is doing - I have already seen it at a special screening for the cast and crew. I fell about laughing and I hope the viewers will feel the same.
Joanna: I am longing to see them all. I'm in a play at the moment so I missed the screening and will only get to watch the shows when they go out on television.

June Whitfield plays Mother and Joanna Lumley plays Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous.

Absolutely Fabulous returns on Sunday, 25 December at 10pm on BBC One and BBC One HD. The second episode is on Sunday, 1 January 2012 at 9.40pm.

The third special episode will be aired in summer 2012 - date to be announced next year.

Fiona Wickham is the editor of the BBC TV blog.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    I always thought there was some inverse propotion between the amount of canned laughter and the humour contained within a show. I now know this to be true. The Christmas Absolutely Fabulous is by far the least funny comedy show I have ever seen. For the first time in my life I start to question what the BBC are spending the Licence Fee on.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    For advocates of this award winning show I can only welcome it back with admiration and delight. The "old" cast, the humour, the writing was to coin a cliché, Absolutely Fabulous.

    Well done BBC for a breath of fresh air, no depressing Christmas scenes as we've come to know from the likes of EastEnders. Just laughter and madness from the Ad Fab team.

    Any news on the date for the third episode planned for the summer?

  • Comment number 4.

    I liked this! I also absolutely love June Whitfield. If I can be as vibrant as she is at her age... correction, even at my current age!... I will be a happy person. My hero.

  • Comment number 5.

    I was delighted to see the long overdue return of Bubbles to Ab Fab. By far, the funniest character ever played for comedy and the missing sparkle in recent years which I believe helped to make the show such a profound success in the early years. Thank you Jane!

  • Comment number 6.

    Used to like Ab Fab....not anymore,

    BBC please note " enough is enough "

  • Comment number 7.

    I actually liked this, it was some enjoyed light entertainment for me anyway on what was sort of a stressful day up until that point. Ab fab has been better but it still beats plenty of other comedy for me. Also love that The Killing & Lund made an appearance, thanks Jennifer (or BBC, or both) for that!

  • Comment number 8.

    jennifer looks cool, and the old ladies left and right looks hot


    [Unsuitable URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 9.

    Have You Considred A Feature Film... I'll direct!

  • Comment number 10.

    Comment No6 is a d##k! You guys rock!! where have you been for 20 years!! Missed youxxxxxxx

    in all seriousness.. We would love to see more of you on our screens the episode was a breath of fresh air! Xxx

  • Comment number 11.

    Quite dreadful. Once you've "tuned in" to the canned laughter it's totally unwatchable. Extravagant guffaws at even the mildest joke or comic action - it's pathetic. Talk about Attenborough being deceitful, this is far worse.....

  • Comment number 12.

    Great Stuff - My age group - Still fancy em!!

  • Comment number 13.

    I really enjoyed the two episodes that have been on so far.

  • Comment number 14.

    Bloody Brilliant !! Have laughed out loud watching, welcome return of a fantastic show :)

  • Comment number 15.

    Don't think I could see it. In US we had to have some ikea mp4 puk ea sorta player.
    But I love that my old friends are back! I watched all night and back over again. The video's I have are on them big tape things. I don't have a big tape thing player anymore. I don't care if it's awful, and I'm sure it's not, I'm just so glad to see you guys again.

  • Comment number 16.

    About canned laughter. I like it. When I'm diggin a song and ready to dance, it really thows me when it turns out a live version. I get so caught up in trying to find my place that I sometimes loose it entirely.

  • Comment number 17.

    I had to watch each programme twice as I laughed so much.
    When Saffy emerged from prison everyone expected to see Patsy, great writing!
    I thought the laughter was from an audience as it covered up some of the next lines
    Surely if it was canned they would have adjusted it?
    Some of the characters can be completely over the top but surely thats what makes this so funny, just dont get too indulgent!
    Well done Jennifer!
    We have all aged together and regard Edina and Patsy as contempories so what happens when these characters get into their 70s?

  • Comment number 18.

    It was pure joy to watch Ab Fab again, the humor, the wit and the acting are the best. I hope that they do a full season, i have not stopped laughing. I had friends over from the British community living here in Sardegna, and they laugh the whole time. You have a winner, let's do it again.......well done......

  • Comment number 19.

    Joy of all Joys!! AbFab is BACK!!! The 20th anniversary episode was broadcast here in the U.S., on the west coast, at 7:00 p.m. last night, January 8. Watched it and then the repeat at 9:30!! Cannot get ENOUGH!! Everyone is as Fabulous as Ever!!! Please Please, Jennifer -- give us MORE!!! Already, 2012 is a much better year! Cheers to Ab Fab's entire cast & crew!! Welcome back!!

  • Comment number 20.

    I absolutely loved it! It's all there. Saffee in prison? omg. the hard ass gf? hahaaa. One would think Bubbles would be a bit less a clown at this point. That didn't feel right. And Patsy! I realize she lost alot of brain cells, but she was alway way too freaking cool to seem so stupid. I mean, look at Keith Richards who I want to assume she partyied with at some point. He still has it. Please don't overplay Patsy! The only thing she might need is depends. But I loved how ya got all the latest history and pop crap in such a short time and oh so funny. From Cleveland Ohio, I beg,,, more more more!

  • Comment number 21.

    Hooray!!! The 2nd new episode featuring Edina & crew FINALLY aired here on the U.S.' northwest coast on 2/12!! ANOTHER great gem from Jennifer Saunders' genius comedic treasure chest! Jean Durand--apparently a well-known celebrity of whom I hadn't heard until then--was HILARIOUS as the stereotypical, existential, misunderstood French artist! Casting Bubble as her voice behind the curtain was, indeed, totally unexpected & side-splitting! And the greatest moment of the episode: when Edina clapped her hand over Lulu's mouth just as she was about to sing!! A CLASSIC that will go down in comedy history! Congrats, Jennifer--you haven't missed a beat! More, MORE, MORE!!! Love you!

  • Comment number 22.

    I get it with the laugh track, but I hate it so much. It took all my determination to watch the show with my allergy to the canned laugh rubbish. I enjoyed it, but cannot commit to watching it. I love all the actors and the story lines are so neat, but just cannot find myself watching it again. I have to just pass on this. I cannot separate the laugh track rubbish in my head or cut it out techincally. I wonder if I am the only one. I do get the idea of it being sort of off track and part of the show in this case, but I still hate it. Love everything else though everything else works for me. S

  • Comment number 23.

    The "Job" episode provided not only some great laughs but also the pleasure of listening to a favorite song of my mother's I hadn't heard in over 40 years. It was a French or French sounding tune being played on the piano while everyone was trying to coax an audible word out of the singer. Can anyone help me with the name of the song? Thank you.


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