Fabulous cast, dahling
Blonde alcoholic, Patsy is played by The Avengers' Joanna Lumley with her trademark posh accent and towering beehive, while Jennifer Saunders is Edina Monsoon, the fashion victim with a hangover from her hippy days. They are joined by Julia Sawalha as Saffie, Eddie's sensible daughter, and batty grandmother: June Whitfield. The gang is complete with Jane Horrocks as Bubble, the insanely nutty assistant.
The plummy Miss Lumley
Joanna Lumley was born in Kashmir, India where her father was a major with the Ghurka Rifles. After failing a RADA audition she tried her hand at modelling, only to be told she was "too fat and too ugly". Her big break came as the high-kicking sexpot Purdey in The Avengers. A popular TV star, she also appeared in the Pink Panther films with David Niven, but she's become best known for her part as chain-smoking, champers-swilling posh bird, Eurydice Colette Clytemnestra Dido Bathsheba Rabelais Patricia 'Patsy' Cocteau Stone.
French and Saunders
Jennifer Saunders met her comedy partner Dawn French at the Central School of Speech and Drama. In the early 80s they were part of the "alternative" comedian scene at the Comedy Store in London, working alongside the likes of Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall and Alexei Sayle. French and Saunders came about in 1987, and it was then that Jennifer had her idea for a sketch about an uptight daughter and her crazy, neurotic mother. When the BBC asked for an entire series, Jennifer just poured on a few bottles of Moët and Ab Fab was born.
The humour in Ab Fab is mostly dry, sarcastic and nothing is to be taken seriously. Many of the gags revolve around Patsy being a raving man-eater and doomed alcoholic. Some of the best lines include Patsy snorting: "The last mosquito that bit me had to book into the Betty Ford Clinic". Another classic goes: "Sweetie what are you drinking?" to which Patsy answers "Oh this? Chanel No 5!"
Lynn Franks the inspiration for Edina Monsoon?
Lynne Franks is said to be the inspiration behind Edina Monsoon's character. She specialises in PR and communication dubbed "new marketing": the holistic way to create brand loyalty. Lynne started her business from her kitchen table at 21 and is widely recognised as a forward-thinking PR guru who has predicted lifestyle trends ahead of their time. But would she have ever said: "Cancel my aromatherapy, my psychotherapy, my reflexology; my osteopath, my homeopath, my naturopath; my crystal reading, my shiatsu, my organic hairdresser - and see if I can be rebirthed next Thursday afternoon".
Did you know?
The name Edina Monsoon is an in-joke with Jennifer Saunder's husband Adrian Edmonson. Get it? Adrian even used the name Eddy Monsoon as a stage name back in 1982 for one of his characters in the The Comic Strip Presents. Another in-joke sees Patsy referring to her days as a Bond Girl. Joanna Lumley did indeed appear in On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969.
The series is such a success that celebrities have fallen over themselves to get cameos. Although they can be treated with cruel humour, the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Harry, Graham Norton, Elton John, Minnie Driver and Kristin Scott Thomas and ex-Spice Girl Emma Bunton have all appeared on the show where celebrities are grilled, joked about and often insulted! Don't let it be said that these stars don't have a sense of humour.