Joanna Lumley: Six times she was absolutely fabulous – BBC News

Image caption Lumley, 71, will receive the Bafta Fellowship later this month

Joanna Lumley is to be awarded the Bafta Fellowship, it has been announced.

She will receive the award at the TV Baftas ceremony which takes place later this month.

Perhaps best known for playing champagne-sipping Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous, Lumley has had one of the most varied careers in British entertainment.

After starting out as a model she was propelled to fame in the 1970s as Purdey in The New Avengers.

The Fellowship is, quite simply, the academy’s highest honour. Previous recipients include Michael Palin, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Sir David Attenborough and Julie Walters.

Few would dispute that Lumley is a deserving name to be added to that list.

Here are just a few of the times she’s been absolutely fabulous:

The time she took 27 takes to kiss Leonardo DiCaprio

Image copyright REX/Shutterstock

When you think of Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The Wolf of Wall Street, a number of things come to mind.

Alcohol, drug use, crime, partying, sex and swearing were all pretty prevalent in the 2013 movie about stockbrokers living a life of excess.

Exactly the sort of place, then, that you’d expect Joanna Lumley to crop up. Right?

Well, no. But one of the things we love about Lumley is her tendency to appear in totally unexpected places playing totally unexpected roles.

In The Wolf of Wall Street she plays Aunt Emma, who DiCaprio’s character uses to open a Swiss bank account to hide his money.

The two also had serious chemistry on screen, and Lumley later said their kiss took 27 takes to get right.

We’re sure each one of those takes were definitely definitely necessary, of course.

The time she was The Queen

When the TV adaptation of David Walliams’s children’s novels Gangsta Granny was commissioned, there was only one woman who could play the title role.

That’s right, Julia McKenzie.

In one scene in the 2013 comedy drama, the Gangsta Granny and her grandson Ben are seen attempting to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. As you do.

But once inside the White Tower, they come face to face with Queen Elizabeth II, played by our very own queen of the screen, Joanna Lumley.

She does the decent thing and pardons the pair, with a message that it’s good to see young people caring for the elderly. Quite right.

The time she interviewed

This must have been quite the meeting of minds.

This 2014 documentary saw give Lumley a look around his recording studio, play her some songs, invite her to dinner and give her a tour of his home – complete with a toilet with an automatic lid.


However, the programme didn’t please everyone.

Jake Wallis Simons in The Telegraph wrote: “It came across like the meeting of a slightly nonplussed American musician and a fawning British acolyte. Which was nothing short of a national embarrassment.”

It seems even national treasures aren’t above the occasional bit of criticism.

The time she read the Radio 4 racing tips

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Media captionJennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley take on the Today racing tips

Last year Lumley and Jennifer Saunders were interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the Ab Fab film.

Then the pair joined sports host Rob Bonnet to read out that day’s racing tips.

The best moment, however, came when the item had concluded, and she told the presenter he “had very beautiful green eyes” with her trademark mischievous grin.

“[Rob] is going to be insufferable forever more, do you realise what you’ve done to the programme?” joked co-host Mishal Husain.

To be fair, we’d never shut up either if Lumley paid us such a classy compliment.

The time she played the Doctor

With all the current debate about whether Peter Capaldi’s Doctor should regenerate into a woman, it’s worth remembering that Joanna Lumley got there first.

In 1999, she starred in a special edition of Doctor Who for Comic Relief.

The Curse of Fatal Death saw the Time Lord played by a host of famous faces including Rowan Atkinson, Jim Broadbent, Richard E Grant and Hugh Grant.

The final regeneration saw the Doctor turn into a female version played by Lumley.

The script was written by Steven Moffat, who would go on to run the show after it was rebooted by Russell T Davies in 2005.

Her charity work and activism

Image copyright PA

The list of charities and campaigns Lumley has been involved with is so long, we couldn’t possibly mention everything she’s been involved with in such a small space.

But just a few examples include her work for human rights organisation Survival International and becoming a patron of charities such as Trust in Children and Tree Aid, which fights poverty in Africa.

She also isn’t afraid to get involved in politics, campaigning for a new garden bridge over the Thames in London and helping to secure the rights of Gurkhas who retired in 1997 to to settle in the UK.

Whatever cause she turns to next, we’re pretty sure they’ll be glad to have her in their corner.

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