Patsy booking

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She has gone from a single-mother model in the swinging Sixties, to the Gurkha campaigner,
changing government policy in the Noughties. In between, she’s played some of television’s most
iconic characters, from Purdey in ‘The New Avengers’ to the champagne/cocaine cocktail taking Patsy
Stone in ‘Absolutely Famous’. Find out more about the posh speaking everywoman. Joanna made her
debut on 1 May 1946, in Kashmir, India. Her overseas birth was due to her father, Major James
Rutherford Lumley, being posted over with the Gurkhas. Educated in Hong Kong, the family went on to
settle in Kent where Joanna attended a convent school. With just one A-Level, she tried to break into
modelling, doing screen tests to supplement her income (this was one of the boom periods of British
cinema and London was awash with acting opportunities). Her first credited role on TV was as a ‘flirty
patient’ in the soap opera, ‘General Hospital’ but it was the North of England’s favourite soap,
‘Coronation Street’ that gave her her first regular income from acting. One of her most dramatic
moments was rejecting the marriage offer from her boyfriend, Ken Barlow. In real life, her personal
situation was far more interesting than her fictional counterpart. She had a child and refused to name
the father (later revealed to be photographer Michael Claydon) and steadfastly refused to apologise for
her single mum status at a time when polite society ostracised the unconventional.
In 1968, she went from ‘flirty patient’ on the small screen to ‘The English Girl’ on the big, joining the
ever growing ranks of sexy girls to appear alongside Bond in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. After
arousing middle England at the cinema, she did much the same on the small screen with her first
iconic role as Purdey in ‘The New Avengers’, and like Jennifer Aniston, her haircut is as much
remembered as her acting. Her next role sent children scurrying behind the sofa with her creepy sci-fi
show, ‘Sapphire and Steel’ between 1979 and 1982, which was a cult, if not commercial, hit. Alongside
her screen personas, she has also appeared on stage many times, from Desdemona in ‘Othello’ in
1975 to Ranevskaya in ‘The Cherry Orchard’ in 2007. In between these many roles, she found time to
marry conductor Stephen Barlow. The serious side to the sexy siren image has emerged many times
and is evidenced in various documentaries such as when she was left alone and isolated (apart from
the camera crew) in ‘Girl Friday’ in 1994. The on-screen beauty left behind the make up and won over
the hearts of the British public in a programme that is seen as foreshadowing the reality TV genre. But
the reason that the cameras followed her to a desert island was because she had lit up the British
Isles with her portrayal of Patsy Stone in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, which started in 1992. She played a
character kept going only by the huge amounts of caffeine, nicotine, cocaine and alcohol coursing
through her atrophying veins. It is a show that both Lumley and her co-star Jennifer Saunders return to
time and again with the last series being shown over the New Year of 2011 and 2012. In the
noughties, she tried her hand at other acting and narration roles including ‘Posh Nosh’ in 2003, for
which she was the narrator, ‘Sensitive Skin’ (2005 to 2007), ‘Jam & Jerusalem’ between 2006 and
2008, and ‘Mistresses’ in 2010. In real life, she is a vegetarian and has also campaigned on various
animal rights issues. She has become a close confidante of the British Royal Family (not bad for a
single mum from the Sixties) and used all her friends in high places to cause a change in policy by the
British government over the rights of Gurkhas to settle in Britain. On 21 May 2009, home secretary
Jacqui Smith announced that Gurkas, who had served four years or more in the British army before
1997, could settle in the UK, making this a victory for Lumley.
Her latest campaign is for Marks & Spencer, which has hired the actress to be the face of its
‘shwopping’ initiative. It was launched on 26 April 2012 and involves encouraging customers to swap
any old or unwanted clothing when they shop in-store. The items will then be recycled or sold by

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