Without Joanna Lumley there wouldn't be a show. Since she wasn't in the skit that inspired the pilot, when did she come on board?
What happened was Jennifer had somebody in mind when was writing Patsy. She also had in mind that Patsy wasn't a recurring character. Maybe she'd just pop up from time to time. We offered it to Joanna because she'd done a play in the West End of London written by an American, funnily enough. She played a character who had a huge amount of shoes. She just had, you could see, this ability to rise above the material -- but that's not fair of Jennifer (laughs). She knew how to do high comedy. That was joy in watching her. She said yes within 24 hours.
She and Jennifer had worked together but not much. Once they got going, we knew we wanted Patsy in every episode, so she's still there.
From memory I think it felt slightly like Jennifer was treating Joanna like she was Dawn [French]. Joanna's an actress. I think to begin with, she found the way of working quite hard. She found the assumption that not necessarily every word of the script would be there on day one, and that things could change on the fly -- she found that a bit disconcerting. But she worked out quickly that this was actually a lot of fun.
And she absolutely knew the character, that was the extraordinary thing. She's said publicly, that she felt like she was playing from an area she knew, because she had been a model. She had known people like Patsy.
You Brits sure like your seasons short. I read rumors that there's a full order of a new season coming out next year…
Well it depends what you mean by a season. In America, that means 22 episodes.
Yeah, I know that's never going to happen.
That's neeeever going to happen. Jennifer has talked about making a movie. I know the BBC would love to have another season. There's a sort of open bank account to do another three next Christmas, so it might be another thing we'll do as Christmas specials. But that of course depends on whether the cast stays alive and whether the audience still wants us.