Absolutely Fabulous, also known as Ab Fab, is a British sitcom created by Jennifer Saunders, based on an original idea by her and Dawn French, and written by Saunders, who plays the leading character.

It also stars Joanna Lumley and Julia Sawalha, along with June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks. The series features Saunders as Edina Monsoon, a heavy-drinking, drug-abusing PR agent who spends her time chasing bizarre fads in a desperate attempt to stay young and "hip". Edina is joined in her quest by magazine editor Patsy Stone, her best friend and enabler, whose drug abuse, alcohol consumption, and promiscuity far eclipse Edina's comparatively mild self-destructive behaviour.

Despite being a middle-aged, twice-divorced career woman, Edina is reliant upon the support of her daughter, Saffron, a secondary school pupil (and later university student) whose constant care of her mother has left her a bitter cynic.

The series returned for three special episodes which were originally broadcast on 25 December 2011, 1 January 2012 and 23 July 2012 to mark the show's 20th anniversary. The 23 July 2012 episode featured the 2012 Summer Olympics which were being held in London that week.


 [hide*1 Production


The show has had an extended and sporadic run. The first three series were broadcast on the BBC from 1992 to 1995, followed by a series finale in the form of a two-part television filmentitled The Last Shout in 1996. Creator Jennifer Saunders revived the show for a fourth series in 2001, after having written and submitted a pilot entitled Mirrorball, which recruited nearly all of the original cast in new roles. The pilot was intended to be turned into a series of episodes. However, Saunders felt the characters were far too rich and interesting to put aside, and were far better suited for her new story ideas. Instead of Mirrorball, a new series of Absolutely Fabulous was proposed to the BBC, which later commissioned the fourth series in 2001. From 2001 to 2004, two full series were produced, along with three one-off hour-long specials; Gay (retitled and issued as Absolutely Fabulous in New York for the United States) in 2002, Cold Turkey, a Christmas special in 2003, and White Box (which included the tying-up of loose-ends and past semi-regular characters appearing in cameos in what seemed an ironic finale for Saffy, Patsy, and Edina), which aired in 2004. A Comic Relief sketch was broadcast in 2005.

In August 2011, Lumley confirmed the planned filming of three new episodes.[1] In 2011, plans for a 20th anniversary revival were welcomed in the Guardian, which applauded the show as "prophetic".[2] The first new special was broadcast on 25 December with the second episode being shown on 1 January 2012. The third, and final special coincided with the 2012 Summer Olympics, with Stella McCartney appearing in a cameo role. A film version of the series is planned.[3][4]

In the United States, the first of the three new 20th anniversary specials aired in January 2012 for broadcast by both BBC America and Logo Channel. Both channels also co-produced the 20th Anniversary episodes, although Logo has removed some scenes for its airings. BBC America broadcast it in full. Both channels aired the episode in a 40-minute block to allow for commercial interruptions.

Absolutely Fabulous is ranked as the 17th greatest British TV show of all time by the British Film Institute. A scene from the show was included in the 100 Greatest TV Momentsprogramme broadcast by Channel 4. In 1997, the pilot episode, "Fashion", was ranked number 47 on TV Guide's "100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time" list.[5] In 2004 and 2007, the series was ranked number 24 and number 29 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever list.[6]


Absolutely Fabulous evolved from a French & Saunders sketch called "Modern Mother and Daughter" (from series 3 episode 6), which starred Saunders as the mother (named 'Adrianna') and French as the daughter, already named Saffron. The sketch revolved around a middle-aged, single mother who acted like a teenager, and was reliant upon the emotional and financial support of her teenage daughter, who behaved like a middle-aged woman. It has no connection, other than the character's name, to the earlier film Eddie Monsoon: A Life?, a comedy play written by Saunders' husband Adrian Edmondson in 1984 for the TV series The Comic Strip Presents.... The name "Edina Monsoon" is derived from Edmondson's name and "Eddy Monsoon" is a nickname of his.

According to an article published in The Times, the character of Edina was based on Lynne Franks.[7] Franks believed Saunders had observed her and her children in detail after joining them on a family holiday. Josh Howie, Franks' son, reported that his mother was upset because one of her best friends "had taken the piss out of her" in a TV show.[7] Saunders revealed in 2012 that she was also inspired by pop band Bananarama with whom she and Dawn French had become friends after their Comic Relief collaboration in 1989. "The nights with Bananarama were some of the best nights of my life, and I got a lot of gags from Bananarama because they were big vodka drinkers...when I started doing AbFab, I remembered all of the falls that I saw Bananarama do. I once saw one of them coming out of a cab bottom first and hitting the road, and I thought 'that's class'. [8] Although Ab Fab was produced by Saunders and French's production company, Dawn French only appeared on the show once, in a cameo in the first-series episode "Magazine".

Three new specials were announced to celebrate the show's 20th anniversary with the first special, "Surprising Guests" airing on 25 December 2011. Jon Plowman, executive producer and original producer of the series, said: "Viewers have been fantastically loyal in their devotion to our show, so we're really thrilled to say that it's coming back for three new shows to celebrate our 20th anniversary. All of the originals who are back together again are still truly absolutely fabulous and the new adventures of Edina, Patsy, Saffy, Bubble and Mother, plus a few surprising guests, will be a real treat for viewers." Saunders announced in November 2011 that she has begun work on a film version of the series.[9]


Edwina Margaret Rose Monsoon, known as Edina "Eddy" Monsoon (Saunders), and Eurydice Colette Clytemnestra Dido Bathsheba Rabelais Patricia Cocteau Stone, known as Patsy Stone (Lumley) are a pair of high-powered career women on the London fashion scene. Eddy runs her own PR firm, and Patsy holds a sinecure position at a top British fashion magazine. The two women use their considerable financial resources to indulge in alcohol, recreational drugs, and chasing the latest fads in an attempt to maintain their youth and recapture their glory days as Mods in Swinging London. In 2011, they are still chain-smokers. The partnership is largely driven by Patsy, who is both co-dependentand enabler to Eddy. Their lifestyle inevitably leads to a variety of personal crises, which are invariably resolved by Eddy's daughter, Saffron Monsoon (Julia Sawalha), whose constant involvement in their exploits have left her increasingly bitter and cynical.

Cast and characters[edit]Edit

[1][2]From left to right, Jane HorrocksJulia SawalhaJennifer SaundersJune Whitfield and Joanna Lumley



Actor Character Duration
Jennifer Saunders Edina Monsoon 1992–2005, 2011-12
Joanna Lumley Patsy Stone 1992–2005, 2011-12
Julia Sawalha Saffron Monsoon 1992–2005, 2011-12
June Whitfield Mother 1992–2005, 2011-12
Jane Horrocks Bubble, Katy Grin, Lola, Radio voice 1992–2005, 2011-12


Actor Character Duration
Christopher Ryan Marshall Turtle 1992–2005, 2012
Mo Gaffney Bo Turtle (née Crysalis) 1992–2005, 2012
Naoko Mori Sarah 1992–2003, 2011
Christopher Malcolm Justin 1992–2003, 2011
Helen Lederer Catriona 1992–2003, 2012
Harriet Thorpe Fleur 1992–2003, 2012
Gary Beadle Oliver 1992–1996
Kathy Burke Magda 1992–1996
Celia Imrie Claudia Bing 1995–2001
Eleanor Bron Patsy's Mother 1992–2003
Kate O'Mara Jackie Stone 1995–2003


Absolutely Fabulous first aired on 12 November 1992 and ran for three series, until 4 May 1995, when the sixth episode of series 3 was billed as the last ever episode. However, the following year in November 1996, two specials called "The Last Shout" were broadcast and were also billed as the last ever episodes. Both episodes featured end sequences with flashes to the future. However, after writing Mirrorball, Jennifer Saunders decided she had more ideas,[10]leading to a fourth series, which premiered on 31 August 2001. A fifth series and three specials followed, the last of which aired on 25 December 2004. This was followed by a short special for Comic Relief in March 2005. In July 2005, Saunders announced she would not be writing or playing Edina again, stating "The 6am calls to go to make-up and all the promotional work wear you down. I would like to write and direct—that would be my joy". However, in November 2010, Lumley revealed to Playbill magazine that she had recently spoken to Saunders about the possibility of filming a new series.[1] Lumley and Saunders reunited for the M&S Christmas advert in 2009, along with other stars such as Twiggy and Stephen Fry.

On 29 August 2011, it was announced that a further series of three programmes was being made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original production. The first of these, "Identity", was shown on Christmas Day 2011 and the second, "Job", was shown on New Year's Day 2012. The last, entitled "Olympics", aired on 23 July 2012.[11] The episodes were jointly co-produced by Logo, and BBC America in the US.[12]

On 3 January 2012, following the success of the 20th Anniversary Specials, it was rumoured that Saunders was set to write another Christmas special for 2012. The BBC were rumoured to also be urging her to write a sixth series for 2013.[13] Saunders denied the reports of additional episodes via her Twitter account, and stated that she is working on a feature adaption based on the series. In March 2012, Saunders reiterated her plans for the film version, claiming that she was currently working on it.[14]


In 2011, prior to the release of the new episodes for 2011/2012, Jennifer Saunders announced that she would begin working on a script for a film of Absolutely Fabulous in 2012. The film will reportedly be made by BBC films and will begin with Edina and Patsy waking up on an oligarch's deserted yacht, drifting in the ocean.[15] Saunders has since revealed that the film will be set on the French Riviera.[16] Saunders has subsequently revealed more of the film's plotline:

"Eddy and Patsy are looking for what they imagine glamorous life should be. They're constantly searching for that perfect place to sit or that perfect pair of sunglasses. It's Shangri-La and it just might be round the next corner. In the meantime, they decide to take Saffy's (Julia Sawalha) daughter off her - she calls her Jane, I call her Lola - but then they lose her."

Saunders also stated that now that she had announced plans for a feature, there was no going back. She would do it for no other reason than to have her alter-ego and Patsy walk down the red carpet at the film's premiere.[14]

In April 2013 Saunders said on the Alan Carr Chatty Man show that she had doubts about the film as she felt the cast were "too old". She felt pressure to write it and didn't want to commit herself to it at this early stage.[citation needed]

Special guests[edit]Edit

Many celebrities, mainly British or American, appeared in the series, most of them as themselves. They include:

Theme song[edit]Edit

The theme song for Absolutely Fabulous is "This Wheel's on Fire", written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko and performed by Julie Driscoll and Saunders' husband Adrian Edmondson. The song was also sung by Marianne Faithfull and P. P. Arnold for the "Last Shout" special in 1996. Hermine Demoriane sang a French version of the theme song over the closing credits of the episode "Paris".[citation needed] At the end of the episode "Birthday", Edina and Patsy sang the song together using a karaoke machine. More recently, it has been sung by Debbie Harry, who also guest-starred in the 2002 Christmas special "Gay". For series four, a line sung by David Bowie, "Ziggy played guitar", from the song "Ziggy Stardust" played at the end of each episode.

Due to copyright issues, the theme song is missing from many of the US Region 1 DVDs, being replaced by an instrumental version of the song. Also excised from the US DVD release is the musical number from Chicago performed by Horrocks, Gaffney, and Ryan, during a dream sequence in the series 5 episode "Birthin'".

In addition to the official theme song, in 1994, Pet Shop Boys recorded a song for Comic Relief using excerpts of dialogue from the series put to dance music. The single was not officially a Pet Shop Boys release: the artist was simply given as "Absolutely Fabulous". It peaked at number 6 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1994. The music video featured clips from the show and specially recorded footage of the Pet Shop Boys with Patsy and Edina.

Other countries[edit]Edit

In the United States, Absolutely Fabulous has been broadcast on Comedy Central, some public television stations, but not as part of the PBS program offerings, BBC AmericaOxygen Network, and as of 2011, Logo, a gay-oriented channel.[17] In Canada, the programme has appeared on the BBC Canada, the CBC, and The Comedy Network. In Australia, all series were originally shown on the ABC, and on cable on UK.TV, and moved to The Comedy Channel in 2007. Repeats of the first three series were also shown on the Seven network. The ABC continues to show it sporadically and shows Christmas Specials and occasional repeats of series 5 episodes. ABC2 also shows repeats of the show. In New Zealand all five series were broadcast on TVNZ. In India, all five series, including the specials, have been shown on BBC Entertainment.

In PortugalAb Fab has been shown on RTP2, and in Ireland, the series aired on RTÉ Two up until its final series. In Serbia, the first series was aired in 1998, through a network of local television stations. In 2004 the series was aired in its entirety on B92, while in the Czech Republic all episodes have been shown. In the Republic of Macedonia, all episodes have been shown a couple of times on Sitel. In the Netherlands and Flanders, the series is popular, still being regularly re-broadcast by the VPRO and Canvas (Belgium), respectively. In Sweden, all episodes were first broadcast by SVT, but reruns have later appeared on other channels. In Germany, it was broadcast by the Franco-German TV network arte and gay-oriented channel TIMM. In France, before it was rerun on terrestrial TV arte, it was successively premiered on pay TV channel Canal +, cable channel Jimmy, and is now broadcast on France 4. In Finland, the series was broadcast by YLE TV1. In Estonia, the series was broadcast by ETV. In Brazil, it was aired on GNT. In Poland, two series were broadcast by Wizja Jeden, later by TVP3, TVN7 and BBC Entertainment.

Adaptations and related shows[edit]Edit

Absolutely Fabulous inspired a French feature film, called Absolument fabuleux, in 2001. It was written and directed by Gabriel Aghion, and starred Josiane Balasko as Eddy and Nathalie Baye as Patsy. Saunders had a small cameo alongside Catherine Deneuve as a spectator at a fashion show. Amanda Lear was asked to play the part of Patsy but turned it down laughingly, saying she'd "already lived it".[citation needed]

A proposed American remake that would have starred Carrie Fisher and Barbara Carrera was put into motion by Roseanne Barr but never got off the ground. However, Barr did incorporate many elements of the show into the final seasonof her eponymous show Roseanne, in which her character wins the lottery: Saunders and Lumley reprised their characters Edina and Patsy, and Mo Gaffney also appeared in the episode, but not as her character Bo.[10]

It was announced on 7 October 2008 that an American version of the series was in the works. The series was to be relocated to Los Angeles. Saturday Night Live writer Christine Zander worked on the new scripts and would have been executive producer along with Saunders and BBC Worldwide's Ian MoffittSony Pictures TelevisionBBC Worldwide, and indie Tantamount were producing the new series for Fox, which greenlighted the pilot as a possible Fall 2009 entry[18][19] with Kathryn Hahn as Eddy and Kristen Johnston as Patsy.[20][dead link] In May 2009, Fox decided not to commission a full series.[21][dead link][22]

The stage for the kitchen in Ab Fab is now used as the stage for the shop in the British comedy, Miranda. Miranda Hart, creator of the show, had previous appeared on Absolutely Fabulous.


Mirrorball was a pilot set in the London theatre scene, starring the cast of Absolutely Fabulous as alternative characters. While writing and filming the show, Saunders was inspired to revive Absolutely Fabulous for a fourth series, which resulted in her abandoning Mirrorball. It was eventually aired as a television special, and is included as a special feature on the DVD of the fourth season.

Home video releases[edit]Edit

[3][4]North American box set release Absolutely Everythingincludes all episodes of the comedy series, with the exception of the 2011-2012 specials.

Absolutely Fabulous was initially released on VHS in the UK by BBC Video ending with the 8-VHS box set Series 1–4 in November 2002. All episodes were later released onDVD, including a five-DVD box set titled The Complete DVD Collection: Series 1–4 in 2002. All releases were distributed by BBC Video and 2 Entertain (post 2004) except for The Last Shout which was released by Vision Video and Universal Studios. The entire series is also available on demand on iTunes. When the first three series were re-released on DVD, they did not include corresponding cover photography to their series: Series 1 included an image from the Series 3 episode "Jealous", Series 2 had an image from Series 3 episode "Doorhandle" and Series 3 is from the Series 2 episode "Poor". All other releases included imagery from the correct series, as do the original VHS releases.

In North America, all episodes have been released on DVD by BBC Video and Warner Home Video, including a complete collection named Absolutely EverythingThe Last Shoutand Gay (which were released in the UK individually) were released as a collection called Absolutely Special in 2003. Another feature-length special White Box was released exclusively to the American market. It was eventually released in the United Kingdom on 15 November 2010 with its inclusion in the Absolutely Everything box set.

Other releases include Absolutely Not, a bloopers and outtakes collection, and Absolutely Fabulous: A Life, a mockumentary including 15 minutes of new material interspersed with clips from the series. Both were only released on VHS in the UK; the latter was also released as a special feature on the box set release Absolutely Everything in America.

UK releases[edit]Edit


In the United Kingdom, VHS releases were distributed by BBC Video, except The Last Shout which was released by Vision Video, the final release being in 2002.

Year Title Release date Release information Running time
1993 Series 1: Fashion / Fat / France 4 October 1993 Episodes 1–3 from Series 1 86:00
1993 Series 1: Iso Tank / Birthday / Magazine 4 October 1993 Episodes 4–6 from Series 1 87:00
1994 Series 2: Hospital / Death / Morocco 19 October 1994 Episodes 1–3 from Series 2 88:00
1994 Series 2: New Best Friend / Poor / Birth 19 October 1994 Episodes 4–6 from Series 2 87:00
1995 The Complete Series 1 3 July 1995 Double VHS Collection containing all 6 episodes from Series 1 173:00
1995 Series 3: Doorhandle / Happy New Year / Sex 2 October 1995 Episodes 1–3 from Series 3 86:00
1995 Series 3: Jealous / Fear / The End 2 October 1995 Episodes 4–6 from Series 3 84:00
1995 Series 1–3 30 October 1995 6 VHS Box Set containing all 18 episodes from Series 1—3 518:00
1996 The Complete Series 2 3 June 1996 Double VHS Collection containing all 6 episodes from Series 2 175:00
1996 The Last Shout 11 November 1996 Final Episodes Special Parts 1 & 2 100:00
1997 Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Not 3 November 1997 The Designer Balls-Up Collection: contains bloopers and outtakes 58:00
1998 Absolutely Fabulous: A Life 2 November 1998 Mockumentary with 15 minutes of new material with clips from the series 78:00
2001 The Complete Series 4 19 November 2001 Single VHS tape containing all 6 episodes from Series 4 180:00
2002 The Complete Series 3 25 November 2002 Double VHS Collection containing all 6 episodes from Series 3 188:00
2001 The Complete Series 2 25 November 2002 Re-release Double VHS Collection - different packaging 175:00
2002 The Complete Series 1 25 November 2002 Re-release Double VHS Collection - different packaging 173:00
2002 Series 1–4 25 November 2002 8-VHS Box Set containing all 16 episodes from Series 1–4 720:00

All episodes have now been released on DVD in the United Kingdom. "White Box" which was released in North America, was never available individually in the UK and was not available until its inclusion in the 2010 Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything box set. The North American release Absolutely Special has been released in the UK as two separate releases: The Last Shout and Gay. All releases in the UK were distributed by BBC Video except The Last Shout which was released by Vision Video.

Year Title Release date Release information Special features Running time
2000 Series 1 20 November 2000 Episodes 1–6 of Series 1 15 minutes of outtakes, photo gallery, the original French & Saunders sketch 195:00
2000 The Last Shout 27 November 2000 Parts 1 & 2 of the Special Collection of classic moments, unbroadcastable outtakes 104:00
2001 Series 2 1 October 2001 Episodes 1–6 of Series 2 15 minutes of outtakes, photo gallery 176:00
2001 Series 3 12 November 2001 Episodes 1–6 of Series 3 15 minutes of outtakes, photo gallery 176:00
2002 Series 4 8 April 2002 2- Disc set including episodes 1–6 of Series 4 pilot episode of Mirrorball (2000), commentary by Jennifer Saunders and Jon Plowman, 12 minutes of out-takes, behind the scenes interviews, photo gallery 180:00
2002 The Complete DVD Collection: Series 1–4 25 November 2002 5 DVD Box Set containing Series 1–4 Mock-velvet packaging box with each series individually packaged inside, all special features are the same as series released 720:00
2003 Gay 29 September 2003 2002 Feature Length Special Outtakes, photo gallery 45:00
2004 Series 5 27 September 2004 2- Disc set including episodes 1–8 of Series 5 Outtakes, photo gallery 240:00
2010 Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything 15 November 2010 [23] 10 Disc Complete Collection including Series 1–5, The Last Shout, Gay, White Box plus extras How to Be Absolutely Fabulous: A behind-the-scenes look at Ab Fab, Absolutely Fabulous: A Life, Modern Mother and Daughter (the sketch that started it all by French and Saunders), Pilot episode of Mirrorball (2000), Joanna Lumley on Modeling, Rare outtakes, Photo galleries, Audio commentary on Series 4 by Jennifer Saunders and Jon Plowman
2012 Ab Fab at 20 30 July 2012 Includes all three specials from 2011–12 [24]

North American releases[edit]Edit

In North America, every episode of the series has been released. All releases are distributed by BBC Video and Warner Home Video.

Year Title Release date Release information Running time
2001 Complete Series 1 13 March 2001

13 September 2005 (re-released)

Episodes 1–6 of Series 1 180:00
2001 Complete Series 2 13 March 2001

13 September 2005 (re-released)

Episodes 1–6 of Series 2 180:00
2001 Complete Series 3 13 March 2001

13 September 2005 (re-released)

Episodes 1–6 of Series 3 180:00
2002 Complete Series 4 5 February 2002

13 September 2005 (re-released)

2-disc set including Episodes 1–6 of Series 4 240:00
2003 Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Special 30 September 2003

13 September 2005 (re-released)

contains the two TV specials: The Last Shout and Absolutely Fabulous in New York (known in the UK as Gay) 150:00
2005 Complete Series 5 13 September 2005 2-disc set including Episodes 1–8 of Series 5 240:00
2005 Complete Series 1–3 4 October 2005 3-disc set contains all 18 episodes from series 1–3 540:00
2007 White Box 16 October 2007 2004 Christmas Special 44:00
2008 Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything 27 May 2008 9-disc Complete Collection including Series 1–5, Absolutely SpecialWhite Box plus extras: How to Be Absolutely Fabulous: A behind-the-scenes look at Ab FabAbsolutely Fabulous: A LifeModern Mother and Daughter (the sketch that started it all by French & SaundersBefore AbFab: two French & Saunders sketches, Pilot episode of Mirrorball (2000), Joanna Lumley on Modeling, Rare outtakes, Photo galleries, Audio commentary on Series 4 by Jennifer Saunders and Jon Plowman 1186:00
2012 Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials 11 September 2012 Includes all three specials from 2011–12 [25]

Australian releases[edit]Edit


[5][6]Series 1 DVD cover

Year Title Release date Release information Special features
2001 Series 1 3 October 2001 Episodes 1–6 of Series 1 15 minutes of outtakes, photo gallery
2002 Series 2 28 February 2002 Episodes 1–6 of Series 2 15 minutes of outtakes, photo gallery
2002 Series 3 1 July 2002 Episodes 1–6 of Series 3 15 minutes of outtakes, photo gallery
2002 The Last Shout 20 July 2002 Parts 1 & 2 of the special length feature Classic moments, outtakes
2002 Series 4 8 August 2002 Episodes 1–6 of Series 4 15 minutes of outtakes, photo gallery
2004 Series 5(plus Feature Length Special Gay) 8 April 2004 3-disc set including episodes 1–8 of Series 5 and specialGay Outtakes, photo gallery
2005 White Box 2 November 2005 2004 Christmas Special How to Be Absolutely Fabulous outtakes, behind the scenes footage, celebrity voice messages on Edina's answering machine
2006 Absolutely Everything 20 April 2006 9-disc set contains Series 1–5, Gay and White Box (does not contain The Last Shout) 2½ hours of special features
2011 Absolutely Fabulous: Complete Collection 5 April 2011[26] 10-disc complete collection including Series 1–5, The Last ShoutGayWhite Box plus extras All the special features of the Absolutely Everything UK DVD release; also in the same packaging.
2012 Ab Fab at 20 16 August 2012 Includes all three specials from 2011–12 [27]
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