Liberty Meets

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley

The iconic duo talk all things Ab Fab ahead of the release of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

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Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie hit screens on 1 July and we’re thrilled to have been let in on a piece of the action – welcome to the Liberty X Ab Fab takeover. As Eddy and Patsy prepare for their big screen debut, the formidable duo will be taking control of our windows to create a visual teaser of what’s in store from this summer’s most outrageous film. While we get ready to drop the curtain, we caught a moment with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley to talk Liberty, life on screen, and legs…

How does it feel to be in the Liberty windows?Jennifer Saunders: Amazing!
Joanna Lumley: It’s actually awesome isn’t it.
JS: Yeah amazing, because I know that [Liberty] doesn’t often do that sort of thing so we feel very, very honoured indeed.

What is it you love most about Liberty?JL: Well we both wanted to live here really didn’t we?
JS: Do you know, I could live in the Heritage Suite. There’s something about coming into Liberty, it’s the atmosphere I think, it changes constantly but is the same building, the same history, the same sort of atmosphere…
JL: When friends come from overseas and they say “Where do we go?” I always say go to Liberty because it’s just stunning – everything in it’s stunning, it itself is stunning…
JS: The café’s lovely. The shoes… the shoes! And the jewellery…
JL: The scarves! To have a Liberty scarf – it’s one of the first things I bought when I was 18, to come to Liberty to buy a scarf.
JS: Yeah, I think it’s just everything from the [best bought] clothes to the furnishings to the haberdashery – everything. It’s just the everything shop.

What was it like getting the Ab Fab team back together?JS: It was very good fun.
JL: There’s always a moment at the beginning of the redraw, when we first get together, when everybody just stares at each other and goes “Oh my god, oh my god” and whether we’ve kept it under wraps, whether that means “God, you’ve got so old” or... what it really means is isn’t it lovely that we’re all together again – secretly.
JS: It is! It is like a sort of family get-together, it’s enjoyable. Like family.

Why now? Why was now the right time to make the Ab Fab film?JS: I think things happen when they happen really, I mean, you’ve got to find the time. Everyone’s very, very busy and you have to have an idea for it too so it’s not like you can invent a time for an idea, it just sort of happens. It just falls into place.
JL: It did and Jennifer, whose been writing this film, she writes fast and she started this in about 1994…
JS: We did it with Fox Searchlight and it’s been the fastest film from commission to end that they’ve ever done. Literally, it’s been a year from beginning to end and that’s really fast in film terms, so it’s good.
JL: Let’s hope it has some legs.
JS: Lots of legs and lots of windows, that’s all you need in the world isn’t it? Lots of windows, lots of legs.

Why do you think Patsy and Eddy make such a powerful duo?JS: Because they have each other’s back always, it’s a supportive friendship for me. I think that’s why it’s so popular really because people love to see people that they imagine are really good friends, that’s what people like in their lives.
JL: Did you notice that she said: “People that they imagine are very good friends”? [laughs]
JS: I’m talking about Patsy and Eddy you idiot!
JL: I know, I know, but even the fact that as people are watching they’re thinking: “I wonder if these two are friends?” – let me tell you, they know Patsy and Eddy are inseparable. It’s really nice, people love that – particularly women. Women get it because we’ve all got friends who you haven’t really picked, you’ve just sort of ended up with in a way.
JS: Yeah, you sort of relax with certain people and they’ve got your back and it makes life enjoyable. You don’t have to try too hard with them. That’s the thing too, they understand everything. You can make a fool of yourself in front of them, you can do anything, you know?

How do you think the world of TV and comedy has changed since you started – especially as women?JS: Cor, I don’t know really. I think TV companies don’t take as many risks any more, it’s a bit more prescriptive. There are more channels but there seems to be actually less main network channel comedy. You can’t offend people as easily, people take things very seriously now. I think that’s down to social media though because people can have little tribes of offence, I don’t think Ab Fab would be commissioned now, I think too many people would have to be involved and I know what the commissioning process is. . . I probably would have pulled out at meeting twelve [laughs].
JL: Come meeting twelve the commissioning editor would have moved on.
JS: Come meeting twelve you’d have to start again because someone else would be in the job! But there seem to be a lot of women in TV which is great. There are a lot of good women in comedy.
JL: The thing is, [Ab Fab] never seemed like a women’s show. It turned out to be women but it wasn’t, I don’t think, written to be.
JS: I think that’s the charm of the show because it doesn’t have a nice, heterosexual relationship at the heart of it. I think it’s not considered a women’s show because it has what normal people have which is a messy life, messy families, and messy things.
JL: One of the things it doesn’t have is women trying to be in love with men, getting over the loss of a man, going out to catch a man.
JS: I mean, most women are just: “Let’s go out, let’s go out, let’s do something”. I think that’s what it’s about, it’s about not having to conform to a norm or an expectation.

Can you describe your Ab Fab look in three words?JS: Very, very small. Small and comfortable with hobbly shoes, that’s mine.
JL: And mine is tall and smoky and fading at the edges – that’s longer than three words. . .
JS: I’d say. . . hmm. . .
JL: You can’t, you’ve only got three!
JS: Three words. What did I do? I did about twelve words! Small and tight, alright? Small and hobbly, that’s mine. And yours would be. . .
JL: Leaking.
JS: Sleek but leaking.
JL: Very good.
JS: Yes, excellent.

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