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Digital Subscriptions > Gay Times > July 2016 > Absolutely Fabulous

Absolutely Fabulous

It’s a world gay press exclusive, darling! GT were invited round Edina Monsoon’s brand new pad and on set for Absolutely Fabulous:ê Movie, where we spoke to your favourite cast members and got the inside scoop from the production team. Crack open the Bolly, sweetie...

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We’ve got history, Absolutely Fabulous and GT.

We first paid the girls a visit way back in February 1994. The press launch for series two was in full swing and we of course started asking the inevitable gay questions.

Joanna Lumley told us she was “immensely flattered” that Patsy was thought of as gay icon, before regaling us with stories about meeting lookalikes at the Stonewall Equality Ball – where she received a standing ovation just for walking on stage, smoking.

When taken to task for the characters being ‘unlikeable’, Jennifer Saunders explained to us: “I got fed up with being correct all the time. We should be allowed to be nasty.”

At the same launch, Jennifer said there’d be one more series then “that will definitely be it…”

The first time this now iconic pair met was at an audition for Ab Fab. Joanna, gracing the cover of GT in September 1995, said of Jennifer: “She’s kind of reserved when you first meet her. She’s actually a very shy sort of person, but I thought she didn’t like me, and I rang my agent that evening and said, ‘You know, I’m not sure if this is such a good idea.’”

Now, 25 years since that audition in 1991, the pair are rolling round on a sofa in a London hotel, giggling, misbehaving and outright howling with laughter when they’re supposed to be doing a serious interview about the latest incarnation that sees Ab Fab and GT reunited once more – Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

But before we try and get some sense out of them, we need to have another Ab Fab flashback…

It’s late November, 2015, and we’re on a wet London street, not far from the GT offices. It’s the final days of a seven-week shoot for Edina and Patsy’s big screen outing. Eddy’s moved on – she’s got a huge new house, but she’s skint.

“It starts with Edina finding essentially that she’s got no money,” long-term producer Jon Plowman tells us. “She’s living here, but can she afford it?”

The house is stunning. It’s hard to believe it’s someone’s actual real home – there’s a giant pool in the kitchen, for example.

It is, however, slightly redressed to match Edina’s tastes.

“It had to have all the ingredients from before, and Jennifer was very specific,” production designer Harry Banks explains.

“She wanted the staircase, the big fridge, the champagne fridges, and so on.”

It’s the first time in the history of Ab Fab that Edina’s world has been this complete.

“We could drive up to it in a car, get out, go in the door, have the camera follow you in and actually go down into that kitchen and their home. That’s never been achieved really, because the location on the TV series never really tied up with the set. And it’s got that extraordinary pool. It wasn’t in the script, but once the house was found, Jennifer did change things to include that.”

And as Jon adds, “There had to be a staircase!” But this time it’s fitted with a Stannah stairlift, flanked by a giant portrait of Che Guevara.

The kitchen is enormous. There’s a specially commissioned McQueen 3D portrait, a giant silver pug and tables strewn with copies of Tatler, Vogue, and Vanity Fair.

There are open bottles of Bollinger all over the place, as well as endless goody bags. Worryingly, or perhaps reassuringly, it feels just like home.

Also in the kitchen we find two bricks, tied with string and a tag that reads “Love from Stella…” We won’t have any idea of their relevance until the movie trailer lands in a few months time – but now we’re wishing we’d stolen a bloody brick, darling.

We watch from the left of the hallway, on a monitor draped with tinsel and lights, as scene 20A, take three gets underway. Saffy is pulling a suitcase downstairs and calling Jane – her now-teenage daughter – to the front door, where policeman Nick, played by Robert Webb, greets Saffy with a kiss.

We can hear the unmistakeable voice of Patsy from upstairs: “I smell pigs Eddy, I smell rozzers.”

It turns out that Gran’s going to the airport. “Will I need injections?” she asks. “Yes,” Eddy replies, “fatal ones.”

There’s a stunt double for Gran – but we won’t spoil why. Joanna walks off set, asking for someone to trim her fringe.

The house has five floors, but despite this, they used another house for the upstairs scenes. We’re told it’s logistics, because they needed a bigger bedroom.

In a break on filming, we ask Jon if the movie caters to its devoted gay audience.

“We’ve never tried to not cater to them… I’ve never worked out what it is that makes it attractive to any particular audience. If it was attractive to a gay audience in the first place, then it still is is. All I’ll say is – 180 drag queens, what’s not to like? I’m exaggerating. It just felt like hundreds in a small room…”

He tells us that This Wheel’s on Fire will indeed be the theme for the movie, but “a new arrangement”. At the time of our visit, photos had just been released of Janette Krankie in the movie. “She plays a nameless and raceless fashion designer called Huki Muki,” Jon explains. “I can reveal exclusively to you that she at no point says fan-dabi-dozi.” But more on that later… What about Edina? What’s she ultimately going to learn from all this?

“There’s certainly a moment at the end when she both redeems herself and doesn’t,” Jon suggests. “Does that makes sense?”

Probably not. So let’s jump forward a few months and back to that London hotel with the ladies themselves.

“Don’t you love us, darling?” Joanna gasps.

“Look at your fucking hair there…” Jennifer giggles. We’re looking at old photos from the dusty GT archives. Joanna’s delighted as she’s never seen them, setting herself a mission to track down more old snaps.

“I’d love to have these sorts of pictures, because in the end you have one of Patsy on the roof in New York, one of us exiting the house or something…”

When we meet, the film is undergoing editing. “It’s just like writing it again, really, because you have so much stuff, ” Jennifer notes, adding that it’s harder write for a film version. “Well, I find it harder because I’m used to writing for television. I’m sure people that write films regularly think, ‘How can you fit that stuff into half an hour?’

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About Gay Times

GT is getting it's fash mag slag on this month with our world gay press exclusive coverage of the new Absolutely Fabulous movie. There are interviews with all the main cast members: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield. Plus we created a Race to Harvey Nicks game and Catriona (Helen Lederer) popped in to give some advice to our readers. Cheers, sweeties! Names, names names in this issue: Bob the Drag Queen. 20 years of Beautiful Thing. Lawson's Ryan Fletcher. Homophobia vs free speech. Pixie Lott. Summer festival guide. Evan Williams. Phyll Opoku-Gyimah. Robert John Godfrey. Travel: Lausanne and Ibiza. And don't forget all the regular features we chanted for: Fitness with Charlie King with Chris Jones. Date night dining with Edd Kimber and the Gastro Gays. The Guyliner. Ask Aled. Michelle Visage. Benjamin Cohen. Wentworth Diary. Modern Family. PJ Brennan. Sex with Josh Sabarra. Property tips. Plus so much more, darling...
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