An Absolutely Fabulous anniversary: AbFab turns 25

Sweetie, sweetie, sweetie, sweetie, sweetie! Fashion, the very first episode of Absolutely Fabulous aired 25 years ago today. It’s hard to believe now, but I remember sitting the first series out completely.

Let’s be honest, at the time it did seem a trifle odd seeing Jennifer Saunders (the Lacroix-loving Edina Monsoon) in a sitcom without Dawn French, and even odder that her co-star should be Joanna Lumley (fash mag slag Patsy Stone), a rather posh old English actress whose star had waned considerably since the 1970s.

However the main reason I didn’t watch AbFab was that season 1 was hidden away at 10pm on BBC2. Clearly no one had any idea of the huge hit on everyone’s hands, least of all the Beeb. I’d just moved back to the capital, renting a two-up two-down in East Acton, West London, just down the road from BBC Television Centre with Judi Gutteridge.

My first job in the capital was cheffing at nearby Hammersmith Hospital (oh, so glam), where shifts started at the ungodly 6am. I’d be trying to get to sleep when the show was on, and occasionally I’d hear a massive belly laugh from Jude below. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard her roar that much before or since.

“It can’t be THAT funny, surely?” grumpy young me would think. Oh, I’m happy to say, How wrong was I! It’s gone down in history as the go-to programme for ‘girls behaving badly’, up there with Fawlty Towers as an exemplary British comedy and a perfect example of how the English can laugh at each each other in a way that is embarrassing, cringeworthy and, yes, very very funny. David Bowie loved the show so much he even tried to buy the rights!

And what came after the designer label obsessed Fashion? Why, only Fat and France. How utterly appropriate.

Steve Pafford, France