Joanna Lumley is one of Britain’s favourite actresses and TV personalities
She has starred in movies and hit TV series from Ab Fab to The New Avengers, Shirley Valentine to The Wolf of Wall Street. She’s also lived alone on an island, campaigned for Gurkhas and searched for the Ark. She’s explored the Greece of myths, met Will.I.Am for a documentary and lent her support for a new pedestrian bridge in London.
Her early films include Some Girls Do, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and two Pink Panther comedies. She made early television appearances on General Hospital and Coronation Street, before becoming immortalised as Purdy in The New Avengers.
However it was Joanna’s BAFTA award-winning role as the chain-smoking Patsy in the award-winning Absolutely Fabulous which brought her renewed fame: the series proving itself one of the classic sitcoms of British television. She later appeared in Jam and Jerusalem, penned by French and Saunders.
Since Ab Fab Joanna has also acted in Class Act, Cold Comfort Farm and Sensitive Skin. She played the over-the-hill star of a daytime TV hospital drama in Dr Willoughby and was nominated for a Best Actress BAFTA for her role in A Rather English Marriage. Recently she’s covered both ends of an acting spectrum appearing in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed The Wolf of Wall Street and also as The Queen in the adaptation of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny.
Joanna is known for her support for Gurkhas, the exiled Tibetan people and government, the Kondha indigenous people of India, and the Prospect Burma charity which offers grants to Burmese students. In 2008 she became the public face of a campaign to provide all Gurkha veterans who served in the British Army before 1997 the right to settle in Britain. Joanna was born in Kashmir, India, the daughter of a major in the Ghurka Rifles. She spent her early life in India, attending army schools in Hong Kong and Malaya before moving to England in her teens where she took up ballet. When she failed her RADA audition at 16 she went into modelling. However, acting was still in her blood and one of her earliest opportunities was in 1969 in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Sevice. She also made an appearance in the Morecambe & Wise Show (1969). In 1971 she married comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd but this was not to last long.
She made the documentary In the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, in which she charted the journey her grandparents made in the little-known country of Bhutan. In the BBC special Girl Friday Joanna tried her hand at surviving on a desert island and wrote an accompanying book about her experiences.
Her early films include Some Girls Do (1969), The House That Dripped Blood (1971), Games That Lovers Play (1971), she played Peter Cushing’s granddaughter in The Santic Rites of Dracula (1973), James Bond -On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and two Pink Panther comedies (1982 & 83). She made early television appearances on Steptoe and Son (1972), General Hospital (1975) two episodes of Are You Being Served (1973) short stint in Coronation Street (1973) and occasionally in the gameshow Call My Bluff, before becoming immortalised as Purdy in TV series The New Avengers (1976 -77) and Sapphire in Sapphire & Steel (1979 -82). Award-winning Absolutely Fabulous (1992 -2012). She later appeared in Jam and Jerusalem (2006-08), penned by French and Saunders. Since Ab Fab Joanna has also acted in Class Act (1994-95), Cold Comfort Farm (1995) and Sensitive Skin(2005-07). She played the over-the-hill star of a daytime TV hospital drama in Dr Willoughby (1999) and was nominated for a Best Actress BAFTA for her role in A Rather English Marriage (1998). Recently she’s covered both ends of an acting spectrum appearing in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and also as The Queen (2013) in the adaptation of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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