Q&A

Joanna Lum­ley: “I’ll al­ways adore Ab­fab’s Patsy.”

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents - In­ter­view by MEG MA­SON

When you were of­fered the role of Patsy in Ab­so­lutely Fab­u­lous, is it true you asked your agent to get you out of it? Only be­cause I thought [co-star and creator] Jennifer Saun­ders didn’t like me! She was very, very shy and wasn’t able to com­mu­ni­cate the part at all ‒ com­pletely mono­syl­labic and gloomy ‒ and I thought I bet­ter with­draw grace­fully be­fore she could sack me. But as soon as we started work­ing and re­alised who this char­ac­ter was, it was glo­ri­ous. Are you OK with the fact you will for­ever be Patsy to so many fans? I love her so much, and I’ll tell you why: she made peo­ple laugh and, since be­ing en­ter­tain­ing is my num­ber one goal in life, I was thrilled to be there. I’ll al­ways adore her. Of course you are show­ered in awards and all those things, but it’s re­ally about the peo­ple who take the DVD out of the li­brary. That’s my re­ward. For a time, you were a sin­gle mother as well as an up-and-com­ing ac­tor, nei­ther of which is easy or glam­orous. Do you re­mem­ber some par­tic­u­larly lean times? My par­ents bought se­cond-hand ev­ery­thing, with the £2 sticker still on it, and I think if you’re a snob and you’re anx­ious about what peo­ple think about you, you’re al­ways go­ing to be mis­er­able. But if you haven’t got a jot and you don’t care, you sim­ply get on with it. If you can only af­ford bread, you just eat bread. You were born in In­dia, moved to Malaya and were sent to board­ing school in Eng­land by the age of eight. Do you ever won­der how you sur­vived? If ev­ery other eight-year-old is go­ing to school, that’s what you do. You’re not be­ing brave. I have al­ways be­lieved in chil­dren be­ing in­de­pen­dent. My par­ents were bril­liant at let­ting us off the lead – if there was a lead at all. But I was home­sick for Malaya. Eng­land was so cold and the food so chok­ingly dif­fer­ent and to be in this for­eign land, freez­ing, eat­ing beet­root… I could cry now just think­ing about the beet­root. Alone at age eight… it doesn’t seem way too young to you now? [It’s] much less odd to me than peo­ple pho­tograph­ing plates of food and show­ing other peo­ple what they are eat­ing. Or pho­tograph­ing them­selves in front of it. With a long stick, dar­ling. It’s ab­so­lutely ghastly. You also went to the Lu­cie Clay­ton fin­ish­ing school, where curriculum cov­ered get­ting out of an E-type Jaguar with­out flash­ing your knick­ers. Has that turned out to be help­ful in later life? It wasn’t so much a fin­ish­ing school as a mod­el­ling school. There was no flower ar­rang­ing or that sort of thing and ac­tu­ally, I don’t think I ever met any­one with an E-type Jaguar.

“Dar­ling, this is aw­ful, but I don’t know any­thing about the Kar­dashi­ans” “If you’re anx­ious about what peo­ple think, you’re al­ways go­ing to be mis­er­able. But if you don’t care, you sim­ply get on with it”

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