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This movie was finalized as part of a bet made on the radio. Jennifer Saunders was determined to get the movie made in order to win a bet with comedy partner Dawn French, and would have to pay her ten thousand pounds sterling or have the script in her hands by the end of 2015. She succeeded in the latter, although when French first properly looked through the script, after page thirty-five, it just said "blah blah blah blah...".
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Graham Norton announced his cameo on his Instagram profile. Several years before this movie was announced, he interviewed Jennifer Saunders on this talk-show The Graham Norton Show (2007) and revealed his own excitement for the possibility of this movie.
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Kate Moss did her own stunts and had to endure several takes in the Thames river.
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Rebel Wilson, longtime fan of the original series, already lobbied for a role in the movie in 2012, before her career took off internationally. She admits to have sent a letter to Jennifer Saunders in which she begged her for a part, and suggested she could play Patsy's long-lost daughter. Eventually, when the production was set to start, Wilson was in such demand that she could only get one day off her schedule to film a small cameo, which was shot on the final day of principal photography. In real-life, Wilson once had her DVD covers of Absolutely Fabulous (1992) signed by Joanna Lumley.
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Despite featuring as a key element in the storyline, Kate Moss hadn't been approached to feature in this movie, when Jennifer Saunders was pitching the story to BBC Films and Fox Searchlight. Saunders admittedly took it for granted that she would be a part of the project.
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Kathy Burke returns as Magda, who previously featured in five episodes of the original series. The last time she portrayed this character was twenty years earlier, which marks the largest gap for a recurring character within the "Ab Fab" canon.
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During Pride Week in New York City, in 2002, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders served as judges at an Edina and Patsy look-a-like competition at a gay bar.
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After years of togetherness, Saunders and Lumley are a particularly sharp double act. "Some of my happiest times have been sitting in costume with Joanna, having conversations in character that just make us pee", says Saunders. "She is a seriously funny person and the joy is that she is not remotely precious. I love working with her. Just being Eddy and Patsy is, to me, like a kind of mindfulness. If I could just do Eddy and Patsy for ten minutes a day, I'd probably be absolutely sorted; getting out all that laughter and all that angst and saying things you are never usually allowed to say. Once I'd done that, I could just continue on a cloud of loveliness. The greatest thing, for me, is that there has never been anywhere we couldn't go with the characters and, on the film, this was amplified."
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Jennifer Saunders has stated in an interview with BBC Magazine: "This will be the proper send off that Ab Fab needs. More or less."
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Actress June Whitfield turned ninety-years-old during principal photography.
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Dame Joan Collins' first feature film in ten years, Jerry Hall's first feature film in twelve years, while the movie also marks the first time in fourteen years that Julia Sawalha has appeared in a feature film.
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The movie was released twenty-four years after the original television series Absolutely Fabulous (1992) began and debuted four years after the last episode of the show was broadcast.
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The inspiration for casting Joanna Lumley as Patsy came from a sketch on The Full Wax (1991) in which Ruby Wax interviewed Lumley, where the actress (who had previously been seen as a prim and proper English rose) played herself as a drunk, cocaine addicted washed up has-been.
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Comedian Barry Humphries played dual roles in this movie. As well as briefly appearing as Dame Edna Everage, Humphries also has a speaking role as Charlie, a man Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) meet in France, and it is for this role for which he is credited in the end credits. The Dame Edna Everage character is billed in the final credits roll as being played by the character Dame Edna Everage, and not Barry Humphries.
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Ninety drag Queens featured in this movie.
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The name of Jennifer Saunders's character, Edina Monsoon, is a play on her husband's last name, Adrian Edmondson.
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In the original Absolutely Fabulous (1992) television series, Jane Horrocks originally auditioned for the part of Saffron, but Jennifer Saunders adapted and expanded the role of Bubble for her instead.
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According to the Jennifer Saunders official website, this movie includes at least "three major cameos". One of which, is going to "blow your mind".
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Biggest U.K. box-office opening for a British movie since Spectre (2015) and the biggest opening weekend at the box-office in 2016 for a British movie in the U.K. outdoing Eddie the Eagle (2015) and The Lady in the Van (2015).
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For Glee (2009) star Chris Colfer, who plays Edina's hairdresser Christopher, the bid to be in anything that Jennifer Saunders had ever had anything to do with had started as a boy, watching episodes of Absolutely Fabulous (1992), which is to his mind "one of the funniest shows in history". In 2011, when he came to London for a two-week leg of the Glee world tour, he asked his representatives to offer his hero, Jennifer Saunders, tickets to see the show. She came, he was awestruck, and the two became friends on Twitter. When Saunders said she was thinking of writing a script for the movie version of Absolutely Fabulous (1992), Colfer replied that he would "move mountains" to be in it. Several years later, when she got in touch saying that she had written him a role, Colfer "almost exploded" with happiness. "It doesn't seem right to call it a job because it's been so much fun," he says of his time filming. "I don't think I've ever laughed this hard. Ever. Definitely not on a set before, anyway. Watching Jennifer and Joanna has, for me, been the most incredible thing because they just crack each other up. It's almost like a competition, like they're each trying to make the other one laugh more."
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Debut cinema movie screenplay of Writer and actress Jennifer Saunders, who wrote the script for this movie. This is despite Saunders having worked as a successful comedy writer ever since the 1980s. However, Saunders is credited as a "creator" on the French cinema movie adaptation of Absolutely Fabulous (1992), Absolutely Fabulous (2001).
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Rebel Wilson, Amy Schumer, and Sarah Jessica Parker, all fans of the television show Absolutely Fabulous (1992), were rumored to appear in this movie prior to its theatrical debut.
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Bubble's (Jane Horrocks') "hashtag" oufit was custom-made for this movie by Vin + Omi. Costume Designer Rebecca Hale also used Kim Kardashian West's controversial front cover for "Paper Magazine" as inspiration for one of Bubble's dresses.
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Director Mandie Fletcher previously directed all the episodes of the final season of the show. This also marks her first feature film in twenty-four years.
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Naoko Mori's character Sarah from the series was originally set to return, but the part was scrapped during script revisions. Mori was publicly upset by this.
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Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley also portrayed their characters on an episode of Roseanne (1988) opposite Laurie Metcalf. Metcalf guest-starred on Absolutely Fabulous (1992), although as a different character.
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For Gwendoline Christie, the star of "Game of Thrones" and Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), the opportunity to work on Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016) was also a dream come true. "I have been a life-long fan of everything Jennifer has ever done", she says. "I grew up watching and re-watching 'Ab Fab'. To me it was a masterclass in how performance could work at the highest level." When the Christie met her comedy hero at the Elle Style Awards at the beginning of 2015, she showed off "in a pathetically vain attempt to try and impress her." Thankfully, it worked. "It would seem that she took pity and allowed me to be in her film", laughs Christie, who played herself, and who said that the greatest birthday experience of her entire life was when, during the filming of her real-life partner Giles Deacon's fashion show, Eddy and Patsy presented her with a huge birthday cake. "My cheeks are still hurting from grinning."
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In 1990, Jennifer Saunders and her comedy partner Dawn French were writing the scripts for the third season of their hit television show, French and Saunders (1987), when they came up with a sketch about a mad, "modern" mother, an ex-hippy called Adriana, as played by Saunders, and her sad, straight-laced daughter, as played by French. One year later, in 1991, French and Saunders were preparing to film their fourth season. Studios had been booked at the BBC and the show's longtime director, Bob Spiers, was in place. Just as the girls, who had been comedy collaborators since meeting at drama school in the late 1970s, were about to get down to writing the season, Dawn French and her then husband, Lenny Henry, got the phone call they had been awaiting hopefully for years; a baby girl was ready for adoption. Work had to be put on hold. It was at this point that Saunders got a call from her longtime agent, Maureen Vincent, wondering if there was anything else of which she could think that might fill the studio slot? For Saunders, who had never considered writing anything on her own, this was a terrifying suggestion. Encouraged by her husband, fellow writer and comedian Adrian Edmondson, Saunders had to think about what on Earth she could write. It was then, that she came back to the idea of the modern mother Adriana, who she would rename Edina "Eddy" Monsoon. "I had enjoyed writing and playing the character", she says. "I could speak her easily, which made the writing easier, indeed possible." Saunders, who got the idea for Eddy's job from Lynne Franks, then London's hottest fashion P.R., wrote a treatment, and the wheels started to turn. Jon Plowman, the French and Saunders (1987) producer (who went on to become the Head of Comedy Entertainment at the BBC), liked the idea and encouraged her to go away and write a pilot. Saunders scribbled the pilot, "Fashion" on an A4 notebook. In it, Eddy wakes up on the day of her big fashion show to a hangover and a guilt trip from her daughter, Saffy. Along with her best friend, Patsy, Eddy turns the show into a rousing success and, the next morning, she and Patsy trick Saffy into thinking that Eddy is going to check into rehab.
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A movie was already being planned in 1995, after the series had its first eighteen-episode run on Comedy Central. At the time, creator and star Jennifer Saunders decided to develop further episodes instead.
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The subject of aging in the modern world was something of particular interest to Saunders, herself now a grandmother of two. "Eddy and Patsy don't know how to grow old, in the way that none of us seem to these days", she says. "In caveman times, we would all have been dead by the time we were thirty. Now, we flap about until we are 70, 80, even 90, and we don't know what to do because biologically we should just be dead. And we haven't got this extra brain or gene that tells us how to live to be old. We used to just disappear into the twilight without spectacles, but now we can have laser surgery and we don't know what to do. We don't just not know how to grow old gracefully; we don't know how to grow old at all. It's like we've lost the ability to stop wearing trainers." No one more so than Edina and Patsy. "They refuse to give up", says Saunders. "They can't, and won't, ever admit to being old. Ever. So they have to find a different dream; they have to retreat into the past, into something sentimental and nostalgic that they love and know. And, for them, that is the idea of the south of France, of somewhere halcyon where their idea of glamor is still clinging on for dear life."
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Casting the drag Queens was more a case of opening floodgates. From the beginning of its history, Absolutely Fabulous (1992) chimed with the LGBT community. Patsy and Edina were toasted for being outrageous, unapologetic, and the truest possible friends. The opportunity to appear in the movie version was one which nobody wanted to pass up. "There was not a single person who turned us down", says Chloe Partridge, who worked under Camilla Arthur, together finding all the specialist background and extras. "The response was just incredible; one girl, Miss Ra, cancelled her two week holiday in Thailand because it clashed with filming, others flew in from all over the world." And these were not just any old drag Queens; these were the crème de la crème of the drag scene, fashion icon Jodie Harsh, "Britain's Got Talent" finalist La Voix, as well as several stars of "Ru Paul's Drag Race". Naturally, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, who might otherwise have had a rare break from filming, could not resist coming to the set that day.
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This movie is notable for having around sixty cameo appearances. The cameos are from, in alphabetical order: Richard Arnold, Christopher Biggins, Ozwald Boateng, Judith Chalmers, Gwendoline Christie, Alexa Chung, Abbey Clancy, Rylan Clark-Neal, Dame Joan Collins, Lily Cole, Giles Deacon, Cara Delevingne, Poppy Delevingne, Alice Dellal, Alesha Dixon, Jourdan Dunn, Beattie Edmondson, Ella Eyre, Foxes, Dawn French, Sadie Frost, Jean Paul Gaultier, Llewella Gideon, Nick Grimshaw, Orla Guerin, Jerry Hall, Jon Hamm, Jodie Harsh, Perez Hilton, Anya Hindmarch, Pam Hogg, Kelly Hoppen, Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage, Jocelyn Jee Esien, Alex Jones, La Roux, Jamie Laing, Kathy Lette, Daisy Lowe, Stella McCartney, Suzy Menkes, Nick Mohammed, Graham Norton, Miquita Oliver, Jade Parfitt, Jeremy Paxman, Sophie Raworth, Camilla Rutherford, Brix Smith, Lara Stone, Tinie Tempah, Bruno Tonioli, Wanda Ventham, Suki Waterhouse, Kirsty Wark, and Rebel Wilson.
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This movie debuted about a couple of months after Joanna Lumley celebrated her seventieth birthday.
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The Absolutely Fabulous (1992) series started out as a single sketch on French and Saunders (1987), titled "The Modern Mother and Daughter".
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Screenwriter Jennifer Saunders decided to set this movie in France before she decided on the plot.
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Jane Horrocks and Julia Sawalha, both regulars on the original television series Absolutely Fabulous (1992), previously did voicework on Chicken Run (2000). Both also appeared in The Flint Street Nativity (1999) and Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Not! (1997).
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One of two fashion-centered 2016 releases in which Kate Moss portrayed a fictional version of herself. The other being Zoolander 2 (2016).
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With so many special guest appearances, every day on the set of this movie had the feeling of a particularly buzzy party. But none more so than the misty Monday morning when ninety drag Queens, dressed in their full, fantastical regalia, jostled with grey-faced commuters to be at the Vauxhall Tavern for a 7 a.m. call time. "I have never seen anything so 'Absolutely Fabulous' in my life", said Producer Jon Plowman.
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"You keep meeting people and they keep enjoying it, but it was Joanna Lumley who finally forced me into it", says the arch-procrastinator, Jennifer Saunders, a woman much happier sweeping her terrace or cleaning her keyboard than she is actually sitting down to write. "She put it very simply, and very brilliantly. She simply said 'You must write it, darling. Otherwise we will all be dead and we won't have made the film.' And I love hanging out with Joanna, and I love being with the other cast members, and I knew that we could have a lot of fun." Around the same time, Saunders was recording her Radio 2 Christmas show with her old friend and collaborator, Dawn French. When French asked her, live on the air, what her New Year's resolution was, Saunders (who had recently published her autobiography "Bonkers: My Life in Laughs") replied that she was determined to finally write the script for the movie version of Absolutely Fabulous (1992). French, who had heard it all before, spotted an opportunity. "She said that, if I hadn't written the script by the same time the following year, I would have to pay her ten thousand pounds sterling", Saunders remembers. French and Saunders shook on it and the deal was done. "I was pretty confident that I would have written it by the summer", says Saunders. One year later, on the eve of recording their end of year 2014 show, Saunders realized, in a blind panic, that she hadn't fulfilled her side of the bet. "I had such a mental block about writing it", she admits, "I just couldn't quite see it yet." Not wanting to suffer the indignity of losing the bet, not to mention the ten thousand pounds sterling, Saunders quickly banged out the first thirty pages of a ninety-page script. On the blank sixty pages, she simply wrote "Blah, blah, blah", hoping that French might not notice. On the day of the recording, as she handed over the unfinished script, Saunders was "actually sweating and panicking." When the recording had finished, her comedy partner came up to her and said "That's not the script." "This was just before Christmas and I argued that I had until New Year", Saunders remembers. "I promised her that, by New Year's Day, she would have a finished script." Over the next couple of weeks, Saunders continued to flesh out a version of the script and e-mailed it to her comedy partner, knowing fully well that French was a luddite who didn't do e-mail and "would probably never get around to reading it." Still, Saunders had kept her side of the bargain and, by then, the word was out.
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Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) at one point said to Stella McCartney that she hasn't seen Stella's father (Sir) Paul (McCartney) since 1969. That was the year of the release of the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), when Lumley played a Bond Girl whose character was billed as "The English Girl". Sir Paul McCartney then sang the title song for the later Bond movie, Live and Let Die (1973).
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On the fashion front, the most notable supporters were Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, and Giles Deacon. "I'm a bit of an anomaly within the fashion world", explains Deacon, who jumped at the chance to put on the fashion show, and appear on-screen. "It's always been important to me to see the lighter side; I hate the overbearing, tortuous side of the industry that I work in. For me, doing great work and being able to see the lighter side need not be mutually exclusive. I think it's a real shame if you can't have some fun and laugh at yourself and I also think that it detracts from the personality of the clothes." Rebecca Hale is effusive in her praise for Deacon, whose designs Saunders even wore to the British Fashion Awards, which she and Lumley attended, in character, during filming, to present an award to Stella McCartney. Of particular note for Hale was the support of Vivienne Westwood. "I can't thank her and her team enough", she says. "Not only did they lend us everything, but they also made us clothes at cost. They went out of their way to support us and their brand echoes so much with ours. It's anarchic and fabulous and it has something to say. For Jennifer, it was like being in a sweetie shop."
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"Most movies are a script in search of some money", explains Jon Plowman, who had produced all five series and seven specials of Absolutely Fabulous over the years. "But this was more a case of some money in search of a script. From the minute the word got out that Jennifer was contemplating writing the film of 'Ab Fab', lots of financiers threw their hats in the ring. It was what the world had been waiting on for years." Both Plowman and Saunders are particularly happy that BBC Films have a stake in the movie. "The BBC is where the show started", says Saunders. "We owe them a lot." Albeit a little unwittingly, Saunders was now committed. She was not without her worries. "I felt, what I'd always felt, which is that it wouldn't be enough to make a film version of the TV show, because that was just an excuse to make jokes for half an hour. No, the film had to be something different, something bigger. It had to be relevant. It had to be about Patsy and Eddy now and the reality of how their life would have panned out. And that reality, let's face it, was always going to be quite sad."
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Cast and crew alike are unanimous in their praise for Kate Moss' enthusiastic professionalism. "She was just fab", says Saunders. "So sweet, so funny, with absolutely no airs and graces." "I've never met anyone who tried so hard and wanted to do it so right", says Mandie Fletcher. "Before she got there, we said to ourselves, 'She's a multi-millionaire supermodel. She could arrive and be difficult. She could have done anything and we would have sucked it up'. But not a bit of it. She was completely charming and professional. An absolute delight." Anything she was asked to do, Moss did with aplomb. "She was up for anything", said Costume Designer Rebecca Hale. "For one particular scene she had to wear a wetsuit and wade into the Thames and she didn't moan once."
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Patsy and Edina will never lose. They can't lose because at the end of the day their audience wants to see them win. Firstly, because of their friendship, which is a thick and thin union that has lasted longer and more joyously than most marriages of the same length. And secondly, because, in their boundless optimism and resolute refusal to be anything but themselves, they provide the perfect comic tonic to real-life. "The truth is that times are quite dark", says Joanna Lumley. "People are tired and lives can sometimes feel dull. But Patsy and Eddy don't feel that. They are positive forces, life forces, forces for fun. And they believe that, whatever happens to them, they are going to survive and come out on top."
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Jane Horrocks (Bubble) showcased her vocal talents acting and singing as Shirley Bassey, a feat previously seen when she played LV in Little Voice (1998).
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When Absolutely Fabulous (1992) first aired, the BBC placed it on its out-of-the-mainstream channel, BBC2, thinking that it might build a modest cult following. However, the show drew such high ratings that it was moved to the more Populist channel, BBC1. According to Jon Plowman, head of comedy at the BBC, during the development of the first season there was concern that "an audience outside the square mile of Soho, the trendy district of London, would not know what this was about." It eventually became one of the highest-rated shows in Britain.
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The secret to the success of Absolutely Fabulous (1992) has been its refusal to play by the rules. "It was the first time, on-screen, that women were seen behaving badly", says Jane Horrocks (Bubble), who originally auditioned for the part of Saffy, and then created her own, fabulously kooky character in Bubble. "When Patsy and Eddy came along, women the world over felt that they had been given permission to get arseholed and have a laugh. They were such a breath of fresh air; such a brilliant, funny relief."
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Ruby Wax, the television show's Script Editor, later revealed that Jennifer Saunders would write the script the evening before filming, and the only time Saunders produced an entire script was for the pilot episode, which she had written in pencil in a textbook.
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Theatrical movie debut of musician Tinie Tempah (Fashion Show/Huki Muki Attendee).
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While talking to the publicist, played by Mark Gatiss, a reference is made to the episode of Absolutely Fabulous (1992), "Death". Eddie tells him, "You only read it, you didn't write it", and under her breath utters, "You work in a shop", referencing when she tells the assistant of the art gallery (Natascha McElhone), "You only work in a shop you know, you can drop the attitude."
For the full two weeks of Riviera filming, the Cote d'Azur luckily returned to its most blue-skied beautiful, which only served to heighten the sense of old-fashioned glamor for which Edina and Patsy have always yearned.
In the dream sequence in which Edina fantasizes that Kate Moss and her cool friends beg her to come to Goa with them, Jennifer Saunders found herself sitting amongst some of the most beautiful faces in London. As the likes of Lara Stone, Alexa Chung, Lily Cole, Daisy Lowe, Stella McCartney, Suki Waterhouse, and Nick Grimshaw said goodbye to her at the end of filming, each and every one of them thanked her for having them in her film. "Quite lovely, quite hot face making", said Saunders.
Idris Elba had his first speaking part in Absolutely Fabulous (1992) in an episode called "Sex", in which Joanna Lumley's character compares him to Sir Sean Connery.
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It was Jane Horrocks who put forward for the movie the names of Vin & Omi, a young, process-led design duo whose work she had been following with interest. A subsequent meeting with Rebecca Hale, and a symmetry of ideas, gave the effervescent pair (life-long "Ab Fab" fans who have also designed clothes for Michelle Obama) the opportunity to design some of Bubble's weird and wonderful costumes; most notably a hashtag emoji outfit, a hat of giant collagen lips with syringes in it and a dissolvable flower dress made from one thousand five hundred Italian crepe paper flowers; a symbolic comment on the throwaway nature of contemporary fashion.
The make and model of the small French getaway vehicle in which Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) escape is an orange Piaggio Ape.
Reportedly, Jennifer Saunders sold the movie rights allegedly stating to the studio that Kate Moss would be in the movie before she had actually asked Kate Moss to be in the movie.
For this movie's costume design, first came meetings with established designers. As Costume Supervisor Charlotte Sewell explains, "Some of the British brands, and we were very adamant, at all times, that we represented British fashion as much and as emphatically as possible, said 'Oh my God, how amazing! You don't want any stuff from us do you?' While others said. 'We'd love to be involved! Can't wait!'" "Because this was film, not television, I couldn't get away with using cheap clothes", says Rebecca Hale whose opposite colleague, Make-up Designer Christine Cant, also had to work hard to gloss up and glamorize the cast of this movie, without ever detracting from the comic content.
Second "Absolutely Fabulous" cinema movie. The first was the French Absolutely Fabulous (2001) adaptation of the television series Absolutely Fabulous (1992), which was released fifteen years prior to this movie. Its French title is "Absolument Fabuleux", which naturally, translates into the English language as "Absolutely Fabulous".
Filming began in October 2015. From the outset, the team behind this movie were determined that its denouement should take place on the Cote d'Azur. "Patsy and Eddy are wildly hedonistic creatures and to them the South of France is a sort of nirvana", explains Producer Jon Plowman. "It's got all the ingredients for their sort of good life - yachts, sea, sun, booze, hotels that are beyond the dreams of ordinary mortals where drinking huge amounts of champagne before breakfast is absolutely the done thing. It's the life that they have been looking for since 1991, when we made the first pilot for the series."
For those new to the "Ab Fab" family, every day was pure joy. "Every day, there was huge amounts of laughter", said Producer Damian Jones. "Because, most crucially, there is a strong chance that this will be the Ab Fab finale, that this will be the end of the series as we know it, so everyone has given it their absolute all. It has been a real labor of love."
"I have never had a professional experience like it", said Casting Director Alex Johnson. "Most films I have worked on, there has been a certain amount of begging people to be in it, or trying to financially tempt them in certainly, whereas with this one, people have been ringing up and begging to be in it. We were practically beating them off with a stick."
"Jonathan Swift, the man who wrote 'Gulliver's Travels' famously said that 'satire is a glass wherein each man sees every face but his own'", said Producer Jon Plowman. "From the earliest days of 'Ab Fab', we thought that fashion and P.R. would hate us and think 'Oh my God, they're laughing at us' but, in fact, they had the opposite reaction. In a way, they were the very first people who said 'Wow! You noticed how shallow and vacuous we are. You noticed us. Hooray! Thank you for noticing.'"
For Jennifer Saunders, whose costumes have always been a crucial vehicle for her comedy, a particular interest was taken in this movie's fashion. Similarly, Joanna Lumley, an ex-model, has a very clear idea of what Patsy should and shouldn't wear. "I went to her house one day to do a fitting and she went into her cupboard and bought out this beautiful jacket that she'd never worn and said 'Can we do anything with this?'" remembers Rebecca Hale. "And she ended up wearing it in the party scene and looked amazing, as ever." Similarly, Julia Sawalha and Jane Horrocks have very firm opinions on how their character's looks should work. "If I can look at myself as Julia, then there's something wrong", says Sawalha. "But, if I look in the mirror and go 'Ugh' then Rebecca knows that she's got it right."
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In a world which is "running away with itself", Edina has become an anomaly. "She has always been an enthusiast for the new, but in an age of social media, everyone is onto everything before she can be", says Saunders. "The world has left her behind, in a way. She's become slightly irrelevant and behind the bounce. Neither she nor Patsy is savvy enough or hip enough, because they never were, let's face it, to keep up."
Patsy and Edina do what most of us would like to do, but that which we don't quite have the guts to do. And now, on the big screen, their glorious misbehaving is amplified. But Saunders was determined that, along the way, there needed to be a moment of reckoning. No victory can be sweet if there isn't a lot to lose. "I wanted to make sure that Eddy was driven, and, by driven, I mean quite literally driven, into a moment of comeuppance. Her awful moment is the moment that she looks at who she is, and who she has been, and what the future holds, and almost embarrasses herself into saying that she loves someone."
Particular praise must be singled out for the Grand Hotel Du Cap Ferrat, easily one of the most prestigious hotels in the world, who, for the love of "Ab Fab", threw open their doors and, most remarkably, closed down their swimming pool, one of the most exclusive in the whole Riviera, for an entire day.
Without exception, all of the actors and actresses and real-life characters who appeared in this movie shared a common essential trait: the ability to laugh at themselves. And, of everyone, no one was more up for some fun than Kate Moss. "From the very beginning, she threw herself at the idea of playing herself", said Producer Jon Plowman. Kate Moss was no stranger to working with Jennifer Saunders. In 1996, she modelled alongside Dawn French in an episode of French and Saunders (1997) and, in 2012, she starred in an "Absolutely Fabulous" Olympic special. "I grew up with 'Ab Fab'", said the supermodel. "When it started, I was right at the beginning of my modelling career and I always found it to be such an amazing take on the fashion business. It made me laugh, which was a good thing, because the fashion world isn't always funny."
Two American adaptations failed to get off the ground. The first was developed in the 1990s by Roseanne Barr, which would have starred Carrie Fisher and Barbara Carrera. In 2008, BBC and Sony were developing a new adaptation for FOX, with Kathryn Hahn as Edina and Kristen Johnston as Patsy. Neither shows were picked up for a full season order.
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Originally broadcast on the BBC in 1992, the television series aired to instant acclaim. Patsy and Edina shocked and delighted in equal measure, Saffy made our toes curl and gave the show a heart, Mother knocked us dead with her withering one liners, and Bubble made us laugh out loud with her surreal inefficiency. It was a show that had something for everyone: a dysfunctional family, a die-hard friendship and a huge, outrageous sense of fun. "The characters in 'Ab Fab', and it is a concept that is driven by its characters, are a cartoon version of all of us", said Jennifer Saunders. "And I think, at the end of the day, people like to laugh at themselves and not take life too seriously. If I had to say why the show was a success, I would say that it was because it was a license not to have to behave. Patsy and Eddy are awful, sad human beings, but they enjoy themselves hugely. Plus, they are each other's greatest ally. My main experience over these past God knows how many years is that people come up to me and say 'I've got a Patsy, I've got an Eddy. They are just like me and my mate.' And, do you know what, everyone likes to have a little double act, a friend who supports them, who they can have a laugh with. Because that is what family, in its strongest possible sense, is and should be. And that's all any of us want from life, really. That, and to have fun, to have a laugh, and not take it all too seriously."
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For their chemistry to work at its highest possible frequency, all of the Js, most particularly Saunders, Lumley, and Plowman, felt that it was essential to work with a director who could speak their language. From the outset, award-winning Director Mandie Fletcher seemed the only girl for the job. Fletcher, whose top-drawer comedy credits include Blackadder (1982) and Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), had previously worked with Saunders on three seasons of Jam & Jerusalem (2006), as well as on three 20th Anniversary Specials of "Absolutely Fabulous". "She's fast, she's brilliant and, most crucially, she has a great sense of humor", said Jennifer Saunders. The admiration is certainly mutual. "I'm desperately fond of Jennifer", said Mandie Fletcher. "She's not just a terrific writer, but she's also an extraordinary performer. With most performers, you get a good performance, but it's grounded. But there's something about Jennifer where, if you give her a moment, she'll cut the strings and float above. Plus, she now has a confidence in herself which, I believe, has made for something very special in this film, because she's touching as well. This film is not just all about broad comedy, about falling over and getting drunk. There's an honesty and a truth which underlies the whole thing, and that gives it a consequence."
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It certainly wasn't always easy for the production. A matter of a few days before filming was due to begin, the Riviera was hit by catastrophic flash floods. But, rather than battening down the hatches, locations like the Martinez hotel in Cannes welcomed the production with open arms, despite still being without telephone or internet connection in the wake of the storms.
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From the beginning, figures of fashion, the likes of Zandra Rhodes and Christian Lacroix, were delighted to be a part of the "Ab Fab" story. "The ones that come to you, as they always have, are the ones that see the funniness and the ridiculousness of it all", said Jennifer Saunders. "That's the joy. They may exist in a rarefied world, but so many of the best fashion designers just don't take themselves too seriously." And twenty five years on, this is still the case. Thus, for the chance to appear front row in a fictional fashion show, the likes of Vogue Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers, Tatler Editor Kate Reardon and GQ Editor Dylan Jones all took days out of their busy schedules to effectively poke fun at themselves. Extras on days like these dressed themselves, and did so perfectly. "Mostly we'd just look at them and say 'Great'", said Costume Supervisor Charlotte Sewell. "Which was quite a relief as there was so much we needed to get right."
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The name of the brand of champagne seen on movie posters and promotional materials for this movie is "Bollinger", and whose brand name is also mentioned at one point in the movie. The champagne is seen in various scenes throughout the movie.
Rumors and media reports that Harry Styles and Kim Kardashian West would be making cameo appearances were dismissed by the production and proven false. The two celebrities did not appear in this movie.
For Jane Horrocks, the mother of a teenage daughter, who always has strong opinions on her character's costumes, the essential thing was to make Bubble feel as contemporary as possible. She, in many ways, was the vehicle with which Rebecca Hale and her team felt they could best pull "Ab Fab" into the twenty-first century. "The main change in fashion has been the way that the internet has revolutionized the way we dress", said Hale. "And this absolutely had to be reflected in the film."
"At the end of the day, there's something quintessentially British about 'Ab Fab'", said Producer Damian Jones. "It celebrates every aspect of our culture, but most crucially, our tendency not to take ourselves too seriously." "One day, we'll all be dead", said Jennifer Saunders. "So I say, let's just all enjoy every single blooming minute as much as we possibly can, for as long as we possibly can."
The name of the airline on which Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) flew was called "Budget Wings".
"It was basically just like Christmas every day", said Producer Jon Plowman of the joys of reuniting the original "Ab Fab" family. Getting the gang together was, in many ways, the easiest part of filming. "We all hoped it was going to happen at some point because the longing for it was just so colossal", said Jane Horrocks. But no amount of longing could make it a certainty. "People have always said 'When are you doing a film? When are you doing a film?" said Julia Sawalha. "But I always said 'Well I don't think a film will ever happen' because I didn't know if Jen would ever be ready. She's not the sort of writer who would ever write anything for the sake of it. She writes it when she has something original and topical to say. And that, at the end of the day, is why she's such a genius. So when she finally wrote it, we all knew that it was because the time was right, and we all jumped at the chance!" All of the Js, Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, and Jon Plowman, have been a family for longer than a lot of their new, younger audience demographic have been alive. Having worked together on and off for twenty five years, on five series and seven specials, they know every aspect of each other's characters, both in fiction and in reality. "The great thing about having a success is it means you can do more of what you're doing, make more of what you've been making", explained Saunders. "We all became a family, and there is no better feeling than going into something knowing that people you love will be there." "We are safe as houses, the five of us", said Joanna Lumley. "We know that. We know each other. We know each other's characters. And we know our audience. I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that we have all adored being back together again."
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The acronym "D.N.B." job title that Rebel Wilson as an Air Stewardess called herself stood for "Do Nothing Bitch".
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The name of Jennifer Saunders' character, Edina Monsoon, is a play on her husband's last name, Edmondson. Adrian Edmondson previously used the name Eddy Monsoon for a character that appeared in The Comic Strip Presents... (1982).
Jane Horrocks originally auditioned for the part of Saffron on the television series, but Jennifer Saunders adapted and expanded the role of Bubble for her instead.
Riding high on its runaway popularity, Absolutely Fabulous (1992), which was also bought by the Comedy Central in the U.S. in 1994, ran for three seasons, from 1992 to 1995 (winning the BAFTA Award for Best Comedy Series in 1993). In 1996, a two-part television movie titled "The Last Shout" was to be its finale. But the world wanted more and, between 2001 and 2004, two further seasons and three one-off specials aired. Seven years later, in 2011, Jennifer Saunders once again bowed to public demand with two further hour-long specials on Christmas Day 2011 and New Year's Day 2012, both directed by Mandie Fletcher. A further special aired to coincide with the 2012 London Summer Olympics (also directed by Fletcher, and for which Saunders won a Best Actress BAFTA), was to be the last. But four years, and much lobbying later, Saunders finally gave the world this movie.
Once word was out that the popular sitcom was finally being made into a movie, actors and actresses from across the globe put their hats in the ring for a part. New additions, like Robert Webb, one half of the comedy duo Mitchell & Webb, who played Saffy's boyfriend, and Nick Mohammed, a comedian who played Magda's assistant Caspar, jumped at the chance to appear in this movie of the iconic comedy. And previous incumbents like Emma Bunton and Lulu didn't hesitate in saying yes when they were asked to return.
Not since the television series (which racked up a stellar list of cameos; Deborah Harry, Twiggy, Sir Elton John, Marianne Faithfull, the list is endless...) has a British production featured such a glut of real-life stars: Lulu, Emma Bunton, Dame Edna Everage, Dame Joan Collins, Janette Krankie, Sadie Frost, Abbey Clancy, Alesha Dixon, Orla Guerin, Bruno Tonioli, Jerry Hall, Kelly Hoppen, Jean Paul Gaultier, to name but a few, "There was one red carpet scene that we were filming", remembers Mandie Fletcher, "that I looked around and thought, 'Is there anybody who is famous in the U.K. today who is actually not here?''' And this movie still has a few surprise Hollywood turns in store for the audience as well.
Joanna Lumley cross-dressed and appeared in drag for part of this movie, playing her character with the alter ego alias name of man "Pat Stone".
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In April 2016, the BBC and Twentieth Century Fox announced a confirmed list of sixty cameo appearances that would appear in the movie. The U.K. newspaper "The Independent" reported on Monday, June 27, 2016, that "the film has more than sixty cameos."
Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley also starred in Saunders' comedy Clatterford (2006), which debuted after Absolutely Fabulous (1992) began. June Whitfield's daughter Suzy Aitchison had a starring role.
First cinema movie directed by television Director Mandie Fletcher for twenty-two years with Fletcher's last theatrical feature film being the comedy Deadly Advice (1994). Jane Horrocks worked on both movies.
This movie was released in the 21st Anniversary year of when it had been first conceived and conceptualized by Jennifer Saunders.
The finished movie blends some iconic landmarks, the Croisette in Cannes and the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, with some hidden visual gems, such as the gorgeous St. Peter's Chapel in Villefranche-sur-mer and the Palais Bulles, Pierre Cardin's futuristic clifftop villa in Theoule-sur-Mer. "The villa has a glamor and a sort of exuberant bonkersness to it that we just thought was very 'Ab Fab'", explained Production Designer Harry Banks, whose work on several episodes of the television series meant that he spoke the show's language.
"It does feel that we just lock back into how we were twenty years ago", said Helen Lederer (Catriona). "Some anxieties, some joys, always gossip." June Whitfield (Mother), who celebrated her ninetieth birthday during filming, said "I couldn't have asked for anything nicer." "We are all very different, but we all, crucially, have the same sense of humor", said Julia Sawalha. "We are all very relaxed and pretty normal people, actually. We haven't got high demands. At the end of the day, I would much rather sit with my lovely colleagues than in a trailer on my own with a fan heater blowing in my face and an iPad."
It wasn't just the LGBT community who wanted to be part of the story. Fashion types came forward in droves to appear in a movie which now, as historically, pokes fun at the heart of their industry.
With a focus on modernity and freshness, Costume Designer Rebecca Hale and her team also looked to fashion graduates for some of their more standout fashion party looks. A phone call to Caryl Court, a senior fashion lecturer at the University of East London resulted in a collaboration with the final year students, who ended up writing their module around their designs for this movie. "It was great to bring the youth into the film", said Charlotte Sewell. "Because Absolutely Fabulous is, at the end of the day, as ever-changing, and obsessed with the new, as fashion is."
At the Huki Muki event, it is revealed that Patsy took John Hamm's virginity when he was fifteen, a "very big fifteen" according to Patsy.
Saffy swears for the first time ever, dropping the F-bomb several times in a row.
Pierre Cardin's futuristic house, the Palais Bulles in Théoule-sur-Mer, serves as Bubble's home in the movie. Palais Bulles means Bubble Palace.
Final theatrical movie of June Whitfield (Mother).
First time for four years since Kath & Kimderella (2012) that actor and comedian Barry Humphries played Dame Edna Everage in a cinema movie. The titles feature "The Movie" as a suffix.
In July 2016, this movie was released. Jennifer Saunders had been planning to write a movie since as early as 1995, but was then talked into producing more episodes. All of the main cast return in this movie, along with cameos from numerous celebrities, including Rebel Wilson and Kate Moss.
Jennifer Saunders is baffled by the modern world. "To me, keeping up with Facebook and Instagram and Twitter is a whole day's work", she said. "I don't know how not to trail through other people's worlds of children and dead friends and dog videos before I get to someone I actually know." To her mind, the twenty-first century, with its earnest, faddy twittering, is just as ripe for a swipe as it ever was. And what more powerful symbol of its antithesis than Kate Moss? "Kate represents the old souls", explained Saunders. "No, she's not going to give an interview, no, she's not on social media and yes, she's still bloody gorgeous. Kate Moss is the one person that defies everything about the modern world and that is precisely why the world loves her. It is certainly why Patsy and Eddy love her. She is the one that they would like to live like. Because she has fun, and she doesn't play by the rules, and she manages to be herself, however she wants to be, and gets more beautiful with every day that goes by. She doesn't age or fade; she blazes a glorious, rebellious trail and, in the sweetest, coolest, most gorgeous way pays no heed to what anyone thinks."
In London a different backdrop glittered compared to the French shoot, but it was certainly just as majestic. With its big vistas, glass shards, and twinkling modernity, the banks of the River Thames provided the perfect up-to-date backdrop for this contemporary look at a group of characters whose lives we have been following for a quarter of a century. Stand out, cutting edge locations included a twenty-second floor penthouse of Neo House on Bankside, where a Giles Deacon fashion show opens the story, to an undeveloped Victorian Pump House in Wapping which provided the perfect backdrop for the Huki Muki party. Their aesthetic appeal aside, what these spaces provided to the filmmakers most of all was a canvas on which to paint their picture in the broadest possible strokes. "Our ultimate aim was to open the TV series, which largely took place in the closed set of Edina's house, up into three hundred sixty degrees", Production Designer Harry Banks explained. "This is the 'Ab Fab' we know and love, but it has now opened up onto a believable, cinematic scale. We've given it an uplift, I suppose. And the effect that that creates is that it makes the audience feel that they are somehow, more than ever, living Patsy and Eddy's experiences alongside them. We can drive with them up to Eddy's house, follow them down the stairs into the kitchen, go with them to a party, cruise with them on a yacht. It's the same 'Ab Fab' we know and love, but now it's in Technicolor." "It was very simple, really", said Mandie Fletcher. "We wanted it to look and feel like a glass of champagne on a dark day. We've given it the gloss, the glitz, and the glamor that it deserves."
As with everything, the internet has given what it has taken away, and Costume Designer Rebecca Hale is at pains to point out that it is as much her best friend as her enemy. "I found a lot of designers on Instagram that I had never heard of before", she admitted. Just typing in "weird spectacles" led her to Amore Eye Wear, a tiny American company that produced all of the glasses for Patsy's love interest, Lubliana (Marcia Warren).
The name of the French fish company that appears on signage on the small orange delivery vehicle was "Monsieur Besson - Poissonnerie", which is a fish store, fish shop, or fishmonger. Its use in this movie is a play on the English word "pussy" as in "Pussyonerie". The products that are advertised on the side of the getaway car include "poissons", "crustaces", and "coquillages", which are in English respectively, fish, crustacea/shellfish, and shells.
The name of the French song heard during some of the trailers is "Je t'aime... moi non plus" which translates as for "I love you . . . me neither". The duet was first released in 1969 being sung by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, the latter of whom wrote the song. A 1967 recorded version of the famous tune co-sung by Brigitte Bardot for whom it was written, was first released in 1986. The track, however, is not heard in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016) though, but the movie is significantly partially set in the French Riviera in France where the precursor television series has a cult following. According to wikipedia.com, "it reached number one in the U.K., and number two in Ireland, but was banned in several countries owing to its sexual content. The song has been covered by many different artists. It has also been utilized in several commercials. The song prominently features in the French movie of the same name, Je t'aime moi non plus (1976), which starred Birkin, and was directed by Gainsbourg. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016) was released in the 25th Anniversary year of the passing away of Gainsbourg and in the 40th Annniversary year of the French movie Je t'aime moi non plus (1976).
"This is 'Ab Fab' on a completely different scale", said Producer Damian Jones. "Fans of the TV show are in for quite a treat because they are going to get all the outrageousness and hilarity that they first fell in love with, wrapped up in a very glamorous package."
From the outset, all those involved in this movie were adamant that, above all else, it was the costumes that were going to ground the movie convincingly in the modern day; that they were going to make a twenty-five-year-old concept feel cinematic and relevant. Or, as Costume Designer Rebecca Hale put it, "If the fashion isn't right, the whole thing topples. We had to make it now. We had to make it cool. We had to make sure that no-one, at any point, could accuse us of being old hat."
The fictitious joke headline on the newspaper that Edina (Jennifer Saunders) is holding in movie posters and promotional material reads: "KATE MOSS PRESUMED DEAD".
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The nickname of Saffron Monsoon (Julia Sawalha) was "Saffy" and the nickname of Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) was "Eddy".
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Second feature length film in consecutive years to feature the Dame Edna Everage character and featuring the word "Fabulous" in the title. The Dame Edna character featured in the documentary Just About Famous (2015), where she was played by Scott Mason. In this movie, Dame Edna was portrayed by her creator, Barry Humphries.
Debut theatrical movie of Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness (Lola).
Most of the movie's lead cast have first names that begin with the letter "J". They are Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, and Jane Horrocks.
Reportedly, about ninety cross-dressing drag Queens appeared in the movie.
The appearance of Barry Humphries' Dame Edna Everage character in this movie almost celebrates the 50th Anniversary of when the character first appeared in a filmed production which was in an episode of The Late Show (1966) in 1967. This movie was released in the 50th Anniversary year of when The Late Show (1966) debuted on Australian television.
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All five of the main character's real names begin with the letter "J".
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Absolutely Fabulous (1992) began airing in the U.S. in 1994, two years after its initial release in the U.K.
Jennifer Saunders and June Whitfield also reunited on Friends (1994). Whitfield played the housekeeper to Saunders' character, Andrea Waltham.
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Joanna Lumley appeared in two cinema movies with the word "Absolutely" in the title, which have been released in consecutive back-to-back years, Absolutely Anything (2015) and this movie.
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With Director Mandie Fletcher at the helm, the rest of the family fell very easily, and obviously, into place. Every key Head of Department - Production Designer Harry Banks, Costume Designer Rebecca Hale, and Hair and Make-up Designer Christine Cant - all worked on the television series in some capacity, and even those who weren't part of the original "Ab Fab" family - Director of Photography Chris Goodger and Editor Gavin Buckley - have significant collaboration history with Mandie Fletcher.
Jennifer Saunders (Eddy) is one half of the comedy duo French and Saunders, and an original member of The Comic Strip. She wrote and starred alongside Joanna Lumley in Absolutely Fabulous (1992) and this movie.
Jennifer Saunders made a cameo appearance in the French Absolutely Fabulous (2001). In it, Saunders cameoed as an audience member at a fashion show who sat next to famous French actress Catherine Deneuve, and was billed as "une spectatrice du defile", which translates into English as "a spectator at the parade". Saunders starred alongside Joanna Lumley in Absolutely Fabulous (1992) and in this movie.
Rated 6 years for Cineme in Norway.
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Joan Collins: In two consecutive cameos, both as a woman pool-side at a resort swimming pool.
Barry Humphries: In two cameos, as Charlie and as Dame Edna Everage. Humphries is billed for Charlie while the Dame Edna character is credited for "her" character.