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About Joanna Lumley

Updated on August 21, 2016
Joanna in 2014
Joanna in 2014
Image by See Li from London, UK [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Joanna Lumley in Sapphire and Steel
Joanna Lumley in Sapphire and Steel

Absolutely Joanna Lumley

Joanna Lumley is one of Britain's best loved actresses, having been acting for what is now more than forty years.

Originally, her career started as a photographic model working for renowned fashion designer, Jean Muir. She progressed to acting through television advertisements and small parts in shows such as Are You Being Served? and Coronation Street.

Later, Joanna became best known for her roles in The New Avengers, Absolutely Fabulous, Sapphire and Steel and Sensitive Skin.

She could also be glimpsed in the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service, starring George Lazenby as 007 and co-Avengers star Diana Rigg as Bond's future bride.

Of course, Joanna has presented numerous documentaries and television specials over the years, but here we principally focus on the four roles with which she is most associated: Purdey, Sapphire, Patsy Stone and Davina Jackson.


Joanna: In the Beginning

In Some Girls Do (1969): Her Movie Debut

Although she can only be seen very briefly here, this was Joanna Lumley's film debut in Some Girls Do.

She appears uncredited as one of Carl Petersen's female robots, but was also working on the set of the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, at the same time. Both films were produced concurrently at Pinewood Studios.

These roles became her first move from modeling into acting

In an Early Appearance: Are You Being Served?

During the 1970s, Joanna Lumley appeared in two episodes of the British comedy Are You Being Served?:

His and Hers and German Week.

Joanna in The New Avengers: With Patrick Macnee and Gareth Hunt

Joanna Lumley's big break came in 1976 when she was cast as the latest Avengers girl, Purdey.

While the 1970s version of this classic show was not as successful as its predecessor, Joanna Lumley nevertheless left a lasting impression as the all action agent.

Joanna as action-girl Purdey from The New Avengers.

Available from AllPosters

Starring in Sapphire and Steel with David McCallum

Joanna's next major television role was to appear opposite David McCallum in the weird and wonderful 1979 science fiction series, Sapphire and Steel. Brilliantly conceived and wonderfully played, Joanna starred as Sapphire, an element in human form who acted as a kind of time detective.

Joanna Chat With Michael Parkinson

A taste of the real Joanna Lumley as she talks to Michael Parkinson during his last series of talk shows.

Here she offers anecdotes on charm, her background, danger and her starring role in The New Avengers.

Starring in Absolutely Fabulous with Jennifer Saunders

One of Britain's best loved and most fondly remembered comedies is Absolutely Fabulous.

Joanna starred as the often inebriated and equally outrageous and unforgettable Patsy Stone in the role that most people associate with her.

In Sensitive Skin with Denis Lawson

To date, Sensitive Skin has been Joanna Lumley's last full series (discounting six episodes of Jam and Jerusalem between 2006 and 2008, and four episodes of Mistresses in 2010).

A comedy drama, she stars as Davina Jackson, a 60 something art gallery worker who is trying to cope with the aging process as well as her personal happiness and the family and friends who surround her.

Joanna Supports the Gurkha Justice Campaign

During 2008, Joanna Lumley became a fervent public campaigner for the rights of Gurkhas (who had served in the British Army) to be allowed to settle in Britain.

Her vocal support on this issue forced the British Government to review its immigration policy. It eventually changed it so that those Gurkhas who had served more than four years in the army before 1997 were allowed to settle in the United Kingdom. Here are some clips of Ms. Lumley recorded during that campaign.

Joanna Talks About Her Career

A truly informal interview in which Joanna talks about some of her past roles, as well as offering up some advice for those entering the acting profession.

Which is your favourite Joanna Lumley role featured here?

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Your Thoughts About Joanna Lumley

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    • profile image

      osciviada 2 years ago

      Excellent page, Continue the very good job. Thanks!

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      Only discovered her recently, traveling the Nile in a series that fascinated me.

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 6 years ago

      A beautiful lady with a wonderful voice :)

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 6 years ago

      Absolutely ADORE Joanna Lumley! Was so great looking through the pics to see her through the decades. I think I love her as a presenter now more than anything, her shows on Greece, the Northern Lights and so on were all wonderful, she really makes you want to be there with her :) And of course, her work for the Gurkhas was inspirational too. Definitely one of our greatest national treasures!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I have never really been a big fan of hers, but she recently did a documentary series travelling around Greece which was pretty good. Excellent lens, blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      So pleased that Joanna Lumley is returning to our TV screens as Patsy in AbFab - am looking forward to introducing her to my teenage daughters :)

    • profile image

      GrowWear 6 years ago

      Discovered Joanna Lumley through Ab Fab, the funniest sitcom ever, bar none.

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      Thanks for remind me about her... she certainly has stayed beautiful, hasn't she?

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      I didn't really liked the New Avengers, they were 2 in the previous series, they should have been 2 in the new series. But definitely liked Absolutely Fabulous episodes! French even made it a movie! Great lens!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      I was checking out your SquidWho lens, but a comment above caught my eye. How did you like Nepal? I loved it there! Have you written a lens on your trip?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Wishing you a very happy journey to Nepal.We all are proud of YOU and feeling honoured to have you with us on the 30 ofJuly , 2009 at POKHARA.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 8 years ago from USA

      Love "Patsy" in AbFab

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 8 years ago

      I always thought she was among the classiest of sex symbols from that era, and seeing her on the motorcycle sealed it :)


    • profile image

      Andy-Po 9 years ago

      Excellent lens. Joanna Lumley has been very good, but so different in The Avengers and Absolutely Fabulous.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 9 years ago from UK

      Wonderful lens on Joanna Lumley, I think I liked her in all of these!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I'd forgotten about Sapphire and Steel!

    • Lou165 profile image

      Lou165 9 years ago from Australia

      I loved Sapphire and Steel, I wanted to name my dd Sapphire........but I got over-ruled! Ab Fab was an absolute masterpiece, I can still watch repeat episodes and crack up at Patsy and Eddy's antics.

      A fantastic actress and a great lens.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 9 years ago from Ireland

      Joanna Lumley was full of action in The Avengers, then in Absolutely Fabulous was hilarious. She is full of fun and a great actress. Love the lens.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      I adore Absolutely Fabulous! I have all the episodes and can watch them end to end. Joanna Lumley is so funny. Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Great lens

    • tplus profile image

      tplus 10 years ago

      Welcome to Get Ratings, Give Ratings! I never knew who Joanna Lumley was before this! Great lens!