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'Absolutely Fabulous' Producer Jon Plowman on How He Got Edina and Patsy Back Together Again

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire March 23, 2012 at 10:52AM

The longtime BBC producer discusses reuniting Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley for three 20th anniversary episodes of their screamingly funny series.
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"Absolutely Fabulous"
BBC America "Absolutely Fabulous"

When it was announced that landmark Britcom "Absolutely Fabulous" would make a comeback with three new episodes timed to coincide with the show's 20th anniversary, fans worldwide shrieked with joy -- and for good reason. Since it debuted in 1991, no show has come close to parodying the fashion industry and its aversion to political correctness with such glee and rapid-fire wit.

The trio of specials (the first two of which already aired on BBC America -- the last has been timed to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics) reunites the entire principal cast, including bitchy PR exec Edina (Eddy) Monsoon (series co-creator Jennifer Saunders), her long-suffering daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha) and her stick-thin, pill-popping best friend Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley).

If the new episodes are any indication, Edina and Patsy haven't changed. 20 years on and they're still boozy, self-righteous, indulgent and outspoken. In other words: absolutely fabulous.

Longtime BBC producer Jon Plowman has been with the show from the very beginning. Before "Absolutely Fabulous" debuted, he was responsible for Saunders' popular skit show "French and Saunders" and has since gone on to produce a slew of award-winning comedy shows, including "Little Britain" and "Extras."

Plowman took some time to talk with Indiewire from Britain about the return of "Absolutely Fabulous."

Absolutely Fabulous Special 1
Whose idea was it to resurrect the show for its 20th birthday?

Somebody pointed out to me that 2011 was 20 years since we did the pilot, and 2012 would be 20 years since we did the series. It seemed like a such a huge amount of time that I felt I had to point it out to Jennifer [Saunders]. We all thought, bloody hell, the whole cast is still alive -- which is itself a minor miracle -- so we thought, well there's no excuse for not doing it. We were originally going to do one [episode], but then the studio asked for three.

When it was brought to your attention that it had in fact been a whopping 20 years since the series debuted, were you caught off guard?

You think, bloody hell! I thought it was 10 at most. When somebody tells you that, you think, my god it's been 30 years since I did that or this.

Had you tried to get the gang back together since the last special in 2004?

It's been a show where we've sort of never said never. The first time I thought we finished it was somewhere in the late '90s where we did a show called "The Last Shout." We all thought, well that's it, hooray hurrah, well done everybody, thank you very much. At the end of that, Jennifer decided she was going to write another show, a show called "Mirrorball," which we made a pilot of with virtually the same cast. The pilot's not bad. So she then set off to make the series, and then I remember she rang me up halfway through and said, "I sort of can't get Edina and Patsy out of this. They keep sort of popping up in my head while I'm writing it." So I said, "Well, let's do some more."

This article is related to: Interviews, Absolutely Fabulous, Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders






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