Joanna Lumley

Joanna Lumley

:"For the sixteenth century translator see Jane Lumley."Infobox actor
name = Joanna Lumley

imagesize =
birthdate = Birth date and age|1946|5|1|df=yes
birthplace = Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, British India
birthname = Joanna Lamond Lumley
spouse = Stephen Barlow

Joanna Lamond Lumley, OBE (born 1 May 1946) is an English actress and former model best known for her roles in "The New Avengers", "Absolutely Fabulous", "Sapphire and Steel", and "Sensitive Skin".

Early life

Joanna Lamond Lumleycite news|last=Barratt|first=Nick|title=Family Detective : Joanna Lumley|publisher=The Daily Telegraph|date=2007-08-04|page=W16] was born on 1 May 1946 in Srinagar, Kashmir, India. Her parents were Major James Rutherford Lumley, who served in the 6th Gurkha Rifles, a regiment of the British Indian Army, and Beatrice Rose Weir. They married in 1941. After the independence of India in 1947, the Lumleys settled in Kent, England. Joanna was educated at St Mary's School in Sussex, England, and afterward attended the Lucie Clayton finishing school. Tall, leggy, slim and blond, she spent three years as a photographic model, and is said to have made her TV debut in a well-known UK advert for Nimble bread first screened in 1969. [cite news|last=Sweney|first=Mark|title=Nimble Builds on Heritage|url=,,1871716,00.html|publisher=The Guardian (MediaGuardian)|date=2006-09-14] She also appears in episode 1.6 of The Bruce Forsyth Show (1966). She also worked as a house model for Jean Muir.


Early career

Lumley did not receive any formal training at drama school. Her acting career began with a small role in the film "Some Girls Do". She went on to have a brief but memorable role in "Coronation Street" in which she turned down Ken Barlow's offer of marriage.

In the "Are You Being Served?" episode entitled "His and Hers" broadcast on BBC1 on 11 April 1973 (season 1; episode 4), she was guest star as perfume representative Miss French. In the 3 April 1975 episode entitled "German Week" (season 3; episode 6), she was again guest star, on that occasion as "German Lady."

She also appeared in "The Satanic Rites of Dracula", released 13 January 1974, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Major roles

Lumley's first major role was as Purdey in "The New Avengers", a revival of the secret agent series "The Avengers". Although critical reaction to the series was lukewarm, the casting of Lumley was seen as inspired and following the tradition of iconic Avengers actresses Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson. Lumley's bobbed hairstyle quickly became known as the 'Purdey bob' and was hugely popular for a time in the mid-1970s.

In 1979 she appeared in another series with a cult following: "Sapphire and Steel", opposite David McCallum. Conceived as ITV's answer to Doctor Who, Lumley played a mysterious ephemeral being ('Sapphire') who, with her cohort 'Steel', dealt with breaches in the fabric of time.

Lumley went on to find fame with a new generation for her portrayal of the chain smoking, boozing, cocaine-sniffing and other drug-taking sexpot fashion director Patsy Stone on the British comedy television show "Absolutely Fabulous" (1992 - 2005).

She has specialised in playing upper-class parts, and her distinctive plummy voice has reinforced this. However she has demonstrated her ability to go beyond stereotypical images, most notably in the monologue series of playlets "Up In Town" (2002), written by Hugo Blick, and focusing on a society hostess's realisation that her star is fading.

Other work has included: "Lovejoy" as widower Victoria Cavero, a film about a journey made by her grandparents in Bhutan - "In the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon" (1996) - and "A Rather English Marriage" (nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actress 1999) and "Dr Willoughby". In 1995 she provided the voice of Annie the rag doll in the animated series "The Forgotten Toys". In 1999 she also provided the voice for Sims the chicken in the BAFTA award winning animated series The Foxbusters. In 2000 she co-produced a new drama series entitled "The Cazalets". She has also appeared in a TV series on Sarawak, where she spent time as a girl.

Lumley stars as the elderly Delilah Stagg in the 2006 sitcom "Jam & Jerusalem" alongside Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Sue Johnston. In July 2007 she starred in the second series of the drama "Sensitive Skin" where she played the main character Davina Jackson. The BBC has said this will be the final series of the dark comedy.

Other work

Lumley has gained prominence as a voice over actress and is one of the most recognised voices in the United Kingdom. [] Users of AOL in the United Kingdom are familiar with Joanna Lumley's voice. She recorded the greeting "Welcome to AOL" for that company. It is, therefore, the first thing that a UK AOL user hears when logging on.

She appeared as a guest host on Channel 4's "The Friday Night Project", which aired on 3 August 2007.

Lumley has also appeared on the last run of ITV1's "Parkinson" as a guest, on 27 October 2007, discussing the subject of young girls across the UK and how they need to behave better if they hope to be successful. She was asked to write the introduction to a re-edition in November 2007 of the book called 'The Magic Key To Charm' written by the pioneering female journalist Eileen Ascroft. This is a book of tips to women, first written by Ascroft in 1938 about how to be glamorous. "I thought it was absolutely enchanting, it's how young women were told how to behave in the old days and I think it might be just coming back for a bit of a revival," she explained in the interview.

"Because, I have to say I adore our young ones and I think we have got some of the prettiest and loveliest girls in the world but I think sometimes the behaviour gets a bit bad and I think the girls let themselves down. They are so pretty and so lovely but they should behave better, I think, then they will be more successful."

In 1999 she appeared in the Comic Relief spoof Doctor Who episode 'The Curse of Fatal Death' as the final incarnation of the Doctor.

Personal life

Following her rise to fame, she revealed that she had been an unmarried mother during the 1960s when it was socially unacceptable; her son, James, was born in 1967. James Lumley's natural father is the photographer Michael Claydon and is of Anglo Indian ethnicity. The first of her two subsequent marriages was to comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd ("Are You Being Served?" see early career). In 1986 she married conductor Stephen Barlow; they live in London.

Lumley was awarded an OBE in 1995. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS). In 2006 she was awarded an honorary degree from the University of St. Andrews and in July 2008, she was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the Queen's University Belfast.

She is a noted animal rights campaigner, vegetarian, and recently campaigned for the rights of Gurkha veterans to settle in the UK. She is also a car enthusiast, whose favourite TV programme is "Top Gear". Her favourite car is a Triumph Stag convertible. She has been involved with a number of charities, including The Druk White Lotus School (in Shey, Ladakh), the Born Free Foundation, Mind (the UK mental health charity), Sight Savers, The Friends of Kadzinuni and many others. She has an interest in and concern about environmental matters, and sponsors the Joanna Lumley Fellowship in Environmental Science at the University of Oxford. At the 2007 Chelsea Flower Show, Lumley had a fuchsia named after her.

elected credits


*"Steptoe & Son" 1972
*"Coronation Street" 1973
*"Are You Being Served?" 1973 & 1975
*"The New Avengers" 1976-1977
*"Sapphire & Steel" 1979-1982
*"Cluedo" 1990
*"Absolutely Fabulous" 1992-2005
*"Girl Friday" 1994
*"Class Act" 1994
*"Cold Comfort Farm" 1995
*"The Tale of Sweeney Todd" 1998
*"Coming Home" 1998
*"A Rather English Marriage" 1998
*"Dr Willoughby" 1999
*"Nancherrow" 1999
*"Whispers: An Elephant's Tale" 2000
*"Up In Town" 2002
*"Top Gear" 2004
*"Sensitive Skin" 2005
*"Jam and Jerusalem" 2006-2007
*"Sensitive Skin" (2nd Series) 2007
*"The Friday Night Project" 2007
*"Joanna Lumley in the Land of the Northern Lights" 2008


*"Blithe Spirit"
*"Hedda Gabler" - Dundee Rep
*"Noel & Gertie" - King's Head
*"Private Lives"
*"The Letter" by Somerset Maugham, Lyric Hammersmith, 1995
*"Jack and the Beanstalk" by Roald Dahl, Royal Albert Hall, December 1996
*"The Cherry Orchard" - Sheffield Crucible, March 2007


*"Some Girls Do" 1969
*"The Breaking of Bumbo" 1970
*"Games That Lovers Play" 1970
*"Tam Lin" 1970
*"Don't Just Lie There, Say Something!" 1973
*"The Satanic Rites of Dracula" 1974
*"Trail of the Pink Panther" 1982
*"Curse of the Pink Panther" 1983
*"Shirley Valentine" 1988
*"Cold Comfort Farm" 1995
*"Innocent Lies" 1995
*"James and the Giant Peach" 1996
*"Prince Valiant" 1997
*"Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death 1999
*"Mad Cows" 1999
*"Parting Shots" 1999
*"Maybe Baby" 2000
*"The Cat's Meow" 2001
*"Ella Enchanted" 2004
*"Eurotrip" 2004
*"The Magic Roundabout 2005
*"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride 2005
*"Dolls" 2006


By Lumley

*"Peacocks and Commas: Best of the "Spectator" Competitions" (1983) - Editor
*"Stare Back and Smile: Memoirs" (1989) - Autobiography
*"Forces Sweethearts"
*"Girl Friday" (1994)
*"In the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon" (1997)
*"No Room for Secrets" (2005) - Autobiography

She has also narrated a number of audiobooks and provided forewords for works by other authors.

About Lumley

*"Joanna Lumley- The Biography" by Tim Ewbank and Stafford Hildred; an unauthorised biography.


External links

* [ Xpressions Education : Joanna Lumley] - an interactive quotes database which comprises quotes from Joanna Lumley on assorted topics.
*imdb name|id=0525921|name=Joanna Lumley
* [ BBC biography]

NAME = Lumley, Joanna
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Lumley, Joanna Lamond
SHORT DESCRIPTION = British actress and former model
DATE OF BIRTH = 1 May 1946
PLACE OF BIRTH = Srinagar, India

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