UK / BBC/Saunders and French prods. /24x30m-e 2x45m-e / 1992-96 and 2001 (and occasional specials since – the last one being 23 July 2012 / season one BBC2 rest BBC1
Writer:Jennifer Saunders / Script Editor: Ruby Wax / Producer /Director:Bob Spiers
The drink- and drug-laden world of a neurotic PR agent and her fashion editor friend. Edina Monsoon, a single mother of two children, by different fathers, was head of her own public relations agency. Her long-time friend, Patsy Stone, was editor of a fashion magazine. Work for both of them, however, was one long lunchbreak at a trendy restaurant, a spell of shopping at Harvey Nicks or an evening’s clubbing.
Striving to be seen in all the right places, rubbing shoulders with every celebrity they could find, they ladled out the ‘darlings’ and ‘sweeties’ as they struggled to reclaim their late-60s youth.
Edina shared her three-storey, expensively appointed home in Holland Park with her teenage daughter, Saffron (her son was away at university). However, theirs was not the usual mother-teenager relationship, but quite the reverse. Edina was the disruptive influence, staying out late, getting drunk, throwing tantrums and selfishly spoiling all her daughter’s fun.
Saffy was simply far too sensible to be corrupted by her mother, a plain Jane who preferred science to sex and books to booze. Their incompatibility was highlighted whenever Patsy arrived to drag Edina off to a fashion shoot or some wild party, much to the disapproval of both Saffron and Edina’s mother. The archetypal society slag, Patsy lived on a diet of cigarettes, drink, drugs and younger men. She wasn’t happy unless she was smoking, slurping, sniffing or sleeping with someone.
Also seen was Bubble, Edina’s chirpy but brainless northern secretary. Derived from a sketch in French and Sounders, in which Dawn French played the swotty daughter, Absolutely Fabulous emerged from its first season clutching a handful of awards, with Joanna Lumley singled out for her successful first stab at comedy and the way in which she gleefully debunked her traditional aristocratic roles. For the second and third seasons, and the final two-parter in 1996, it earned itself a BBC 1 time slot. Edina and Patsy also turned up in one episode of roseanne. A similarly themed, but typically toned-down, US comedy entitled High Society, starring Jean Smart and Mary McDonnell, was screened in the States in 1995-6 but was not well received. Absolutely Fabulous’s theme song. Bob Dylan’s This Wheel’s on Fire”, was sung by Jennifer Saunders’s husband, Adrian Edmondson, with Julie Driscoll, vocalist on the original, 1968, hit version by the Brian Auger Trinity. The series returned in 2001 after a five year lay off for a new series of 6 episodes. In the new series Saffy was on the verge of entering politics whilst Mother had become hooked on the Internet. Patsy and Edina meanwhile were still hooked on every trend going. Since then there have been occasional one off specials.
JENNIFER SAUNDERS as Edina Monsoon
JOANNA LUMLEY as Patsy
JULIA SAWALHA as Saffron
JUNE WHITFIELD as Mum
JANE HORROCKS as Bubble
HELEN LEDERER as Catriona (seasons 2-3)