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Joanna Lumley, Symphony Hall, Birmingham - review

By Leon Burakowski | Entertainment | Published: | Last Updated:

Actor and broadcaster Joanna Lumley took her fans on a whistle-stop tour of her 54-year career in her honestly entitled It's All About Me presentation illustrated by clips - and got a huge cheer every time she dipped into character as Ab Fab comedy creation Patsy.

Joanna Lumley

Joanna is an absolutely fabulous name-dropper, her anecdotes involved stars such as Ava Gardner and David Niven, Rod Stewart (she was briefly his girlfriend) and Donald Trump.

The then-New York property developer didn't get the joke when she put on her Patsy Stone persona at a party, complete with Ivana Trump hairstyle.

In the first 50 minutes she spoke about her disastrous audition for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, life as a model in swinging '60s London, roles in Hammer horror movies and as a Bond girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, as dolly bird girlfriends in sitcoms such as On The Buses and Steptoe and Son, as Ken Barlow's love interest in Coronation Street.

Then came her first career defining role as action girl Purdey in The New Avengers, launching an iconic '70s hairstyle.

There were lots of anecdotes, like how she was conned into hanging from a wire ladder suspended from a helicopter while quaffing Champagne for one New Avengers scene - only to find out that her stunt double had refused to do it because it was too dangerous.

Then, of course, there was Absolutely Fabulous, the creation of 'Euro trash' Patsy and a second career as TV traveller.

One of her favourite memories was her time as a castaway on an uninhabited island in TV documentary Girl Friday, during which she fashioned a pair of shoes from insoles and her bra.

She presented them from a travel trunk on stage and revealed that she's arranged to be buried with them.

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That TV show, like most of her travel documentaries right up to her recent trip to China in Silk Road Adventure, was produced by Clive Tulloh, who curated questions from the audience after the interval.

This produced a wealth of amusing tales and insights, mostly light and frothy, like how she and Leonardo DiCaprio munched mints before their kiss in The Wolf of Wall Street.

She revealed that seeing the Northern Lights remains her most treasured travel experience.

But she did also touch on depression and how she maintains a happy and positive attitude, her basic philosophy being that if you are not happy pretend that your are and find pleasure in small things.

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Perhaps it helps that she was born smiling, so much that her father - an officer with the Gurkhas, it's his travel trunk on stage - said she looked like a little 'hammerhead shark'.

If anyone was hoping for some bitchy showbiz gossip, forget it, Joanna gushed positivity, perhaps saving all her cynicism to pour into Pats'.

And that's probably why so many people want to spend time in her delightful company. Fabulous, of course.

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