HOLLY BYRNES

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

YOU ex­pect to hear the Bollinger corks pop­ping and glasses clink­ing when in con­ver­sa­tion with Ab­so­lutely Fab­u­lous star Joanna Lum­ley.

In­stead it’s the BAFTAw­in­ning ac­tress who fairly fizzes with ex­cite­ment down the line from her Lon­don home, spruik­ing her lat­est TV travel se­ries, Joanna Lum­ley’s Greek Odyssey.

For fans of her most fa­mous char­ac­ter, the cham­pag­neguz­zling Patsy Stone in Ab­fab sounds aw­fully like the won­der­fully ef­fu­sive woman wax­ing lyri­cal about her Mediter­ranean ad­ven­tures. Only sober.

It’s when the for­mer Bond girl re­counts her ex­per­i­ment drink­ing a lethal Greek spirit, ‘‘ arak’’, that the line be­tween Lum­ley and Patsy be­come blurred.

Asked whether she tested the aniseed liquor’s rep­u­ta­tion for get­ting you mind­blow­ingly drunk, mi­nus the morn­ing-af­ter han­gover, the 66-year-old purrs, Patsy-style: ‘‘ Dar­ling, did I ever test it.’’

For all her rounded vow­els and hy­per­bole, Lum­ley is most con­vinc­ing in her role of down-to-earth tour guide.

Lum­ley says it’s her ‘‘ Gypsy gene’’ and ‘‘ great love of peo­ple’’ which in­spires her pas­sion for travel.

‘‘ I adore it for the stim­u­la­tion: the colour, the cul­ture, the peo­ple. I have to ad­mit I feel al­most claus­tro­pho­bic if I can’t get out and about.’’

While her Greek Odyssey in­cludes the usual post­card mo­ments, this pro­duc­tion rev­els in the coun­try’s ‘‘ wrin­kles’’ — the off-the-tourism­trail, as Lum­ley de­scribes it.

Crit­ics have mocked her flowery lan­guage, but Lum­ley makes no apolo­gies.

‘‘ I’m a gusher. I haven’t got a stop but­ton. It’s not put on and I’m sorry if that an­noys some peo­ple but it’s gen­uine.’’ Joanna Lum­ley’s Greek Odyssey, airs Tuesdays at 8.30pm on ABC1

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