Absolutely Fabulous. Image shows from L to R: Bubble (Jane Horrocks), Saffron (Julia Sawalha), Edina (Jennifer Saunders), Mother (June Whitfield), Patsy (Joanna Lumley). Copyright: Saunders And French Productions / BBC.

Absolutely Fabulous

BBC One and BBC Two sitcom focusing on two fashionistas. 39 episodes (5 series), 1992 - 2012. Stars Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks.

Trivia

Alongside series such as The Liver Birds and Birds Of A Feather, Absolutely Fabulous is one of only a small number of female-oriented British sitcoms in history.

The show has enjoyed success in numerous countries across the world, including Canada, Portugal, Australia, and most notably the United States of America.

A French film based on the series was released in 2001, entitled Absolument Fabuleux. A box office failure, it starred French actresses Josiane Balas and Nathalie Baye in the roles of Edina and Patsy respectively, and featured a small cameo appearance by Jennifer Saunders.

Saunders's comedy partner Dawn French, who co-created the series, almost landed the part of Saffron. However, it was felt that a younger actress would add believability and realism to the role of Edina's daughter, and Julia Sawalha was cast.

Source: 'Absolutely Not' VHS

As well as French, Jane Horrocks had originally auditioned for the part of Saffron, however Saunders felt her comic potential was more suited to the character of Bubble.

Source: 'The Story Of Absolutely Fabulous' (BBC, 2004)

PR consultant Lynne Franks and her family inspired the original French & Saunders sketch (Series 3, episode 6) upon which Absolutely Fabulous was based.

Source: 'The Story Of Absolutely Fabulous' (BBC, 2004)

Both Julia Sawalha and Joanna Lumley came close to pulling out of the series shortly before production started, fearing that the show was unlikely to work.

Source: 'The Story Of Absolutely Fabulous' (BBC, 2004)

American actress and sitcom star Roseanne Barr bought the rights to adapt the series in 90s, and planned to make the show with Carrie Fisher, but the project never got off the ground.

Source: Wikipedia

Fox produced a pilot for an American adaptation in 2008 starring Katherine Hahn as Edina, Kristen Johnston as Patsy and Zosia Mamet as Saffron, but a series was not commissioned. Jennifer Saunders and Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) were producers.

Source: Wikipedia, IMDb

Despite its own failed direct-adaptation attempts, America has come close to home-grown Asbsolutely Fabulous with the series Cybill and High Society.

Cybill shares the themes of life in the public eye and and generational tension. Cybill (Cybill Shepherd) - a middle ageing actress and hippy, has a rich, boozy best friend in bitter divorcee Marianne (Christine Baranski) and two disapproving, often embarrassed daughters (Dee Pfeiffer and Alicia Witt).

High Society focuses on the life of Dorothy Emerson (Mary McDonnell) - a wealthy divorcee who owns a publishing company - and her best friend Ellie Walker (Jean Smart), a boozy, man-eating romance novelist, as they carry on decadently under the eyes of Dorothy's conservative son Brendan (Dan O'Donahugh), old-money mother Alice (Jayne Meadows) and earthy college friend Val (Faith Prince).

The character of Brice Michaels, played by Tim Wylton and seen in Series 4 episode 2, Fish Farm, is taken from the one-off special Mirrorball - written by Jennifer Saunders and directed by Adrian Edmonson. The show takes the cast of Absolutely Fabulous and places them in a West-End showbiz setting. Bryce is the agent husband of Jackie Riviera (Joanna Lumley), the ex-junkie, faded disco diva best friend to the main character Vyvian Kiell (Jennifer Saunders), a middle-aged actress and dancer who lacks self control and struggles to find work. He is also the agent to old time vaudeville star Dora Vermouth (June Whitfield).

Absolutely Fabulous was inspired by a French & Saunders sketch called 'Modern Mother and Daughter'. It starred Jennifer Saunders as the overbearing, childlike mother and Dawn French as the mature daughter.

The name Eddy Monsoon is a real-life nickname given to Adrian Edmondson (Jennifer Saunders' husband).

The theme tune is called This Wheel's On Fire, written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko. The version played on most episodes includes vocals from Julie Driscoll and Adrian Edmondson. Marianne Faithfull and P P Arnold performed the song for The Last Shout special in 1996, and Hermine Demoriane - in French - contributed vocals over the closing credits of the episode Paris. Vocals by Debbie Harry replaced those by Driscoll during Series 4 and 5. All versions were arranged by Simon Brint.

Eddy Monsoon claims to be a vegetarian, but is seen eating meat on several occasions.

In 1994, the Pet Shop Boys released a song for Comic Relief containing dialogue from Absolutely Fabulous against a background of dance music.

In a one-off travelogue programme broadcast at Christmas 2017, Joanna & Jennifer: Absolutely Champers saw the star duo visit France's Champagne region to learn more about the beverage, visiting a number of vineyards and manufacturers - including Bollinger - and reminisce about Absolutely Fabulous.