|Born||Joanna Lamond Lumley
1 May 1946
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, British India
Joanna Lamond Lumley, OBE, FRGS (born 1 May 1946) is an English actress, best known for her roles in the British television series The New Avengers, Sapphire and Steel, Absolutely Fabulous and Sensitive Skin. She is also a former model, a human rights activist, and an animal welfare activist.
Joanna Lamond Lumley was born on 1 May 1946 in Srinagar, in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Her parents were Major James Rutherford Lumley, who served in the 6th Gurkha Rifles, a regiment of the Indian Army, and Beatrice Rose Weir. They married in 1941. After the independence of India in 1947, the Lumleys moved to Malaya (now Malaysia) and later settled in Kent, England. Lumley was educated at St Mary's School in Hastings, East Sussex, England, and afterwards attended the Lucy Clayton School of modelling.
Tall, slim and blonde, she spent three years as a photographic model, notably for Brian Duffy by whom she was photographed with her son. She also worked as a house model for Jean Muir. Over forty years later she participated in another photoshoot - again with her son - for Duffy as part of a retrospective of the photographer's work.
Lumley did not receive any formal training at drama school. Her acting career began in 1969 with a small role in the film Some Girls Do and as a Bond girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, she played the English Girl among Blofeld's 'Angels of Death' and had two lines. She went on to have a brief but memorable role in Coronation Street, in which her character turned down Ken Barlow's offer of marriage.
In the Are You Being Served? episode "His and Hers" (season 1; episode 4), she was featured as Miss French, a perfume representative. In the episode "German Week" (season 3; episode 6), she appeared as "German Lady". She also appeared on the big screen in The Satanic Rites of Dracula, released 13 January 1974, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. She also appeared in Steptoe & Son in the episode "Loathe Story".
Throughout her career, she has specialised in playing upper-class parts, and her distinctive plummy voice has reinforced this. Lumley's first major role was as Purdey in The New Avengers, a revival of the secret agent series The Avengers. Although critical reaction to the series was lukewarm, the casting of Lumley was seen as inspired and following the tradition of iconic Avengers actresses Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson.
In 1979 she appeared in another series which acquired a following: Sapphire and Steel, with David McCallum. Conceived as ITV's answer to Doctor Who, Lumley played a mysterious ephemeral being ('Sapphire') who, with her collaborator 'Steel', dealt with breaches in the fabric of time.
Over a decade later, Lumley's career was boosted by her portrayal of the chain smoking, frequently inebriated, coke-sniffing (plus other drugs) and sex-addicted fashion director Patsy Stone on the British comedy television series Absolutely Fabulous (1992–1996) and (2001–2004).
Other work has included: Lovejoy as widow Victoria Cavero, a film about a journey made by her grandparents in Bhutan - In the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon (1996) - and A Rather English Marriage (nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actress 1999) and Dr Willoughby (1999). In 1995 she provided the voice of Annie the rag doll in the animated series The Forgotten Toys. In 1999 she also provided the voice for Sims the chicken in the BAFTA award winning animated series The Foxbusters. In 2000 she co-produced a new drama series The Cazalets. She has also appeared in a TV series on Sarawak, where she spent time in her childhood. She has demonstrated her ability to go beyond stereotypical images, most notably in the monologue series of playlets Up In Town (2002), written by Hugo Blick, and focusing on a society hostess's realisation that her star is fading.
Lumley stars as the elderly Delilah Stagg in the 2006 sitcom Jam & Jerusalem with Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Sue Johnston. In July 2007 she starred in the second series of the drama Sensitive Skin where she played the main character Davina Jackson. The BBC has said this will be the final series of the dark comedy.
As the possessor of one of the most recognised voices in the United Kingdom, Lumley has gained prominence as a voice-over artist. Users of AOL in the United Kingdom are familiar with Joanna Lumley's voice. She recorded the greetings "Welcome to AOL" and "You have post" for that company. She also did a voice over for the BBC series Posh Nosh as a voice-over usually saying "From the Posh Nosh range, (a faux product)."
Lumley has also appeared on the last run of ITV1's Parkinson as a guest, on 27 October 2007, discussing the subject of young girls across the UK and how they need to behave better if they hope to be successful. She was asked to write the introduction to a re-edition in November 2007 of the book called The Magic Key To Charm written by the pioneering female journalist Eileen Ascroft. This is a book of tips to women, first written by Ascroft in 1938 about how to be glamorous. "I thought it was absolutely enchanting, it's how young women were told how to behave in the old days and I think it might be just coming back for a bit of a revival," she explained in the interview.
"Because, I have to say I adore our young ones and I think we have got some of the prettiest and loveliest girls in the world but I think sometimes the behaviour gets a bit bad and I think the girls let themselves down. They are so pretty and so lovely but they should behave better, I think, then they will be more successful."
In 1999 she appeared in the Comic Relief Doctor Who parody The Curse of Fatal Death as the final incarnation of the Doctor. She also appeared with Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Sienna Miller in French and Saunders pastiche of Mamma Mia for Comic Relief 2009 in which she played the role of Tanya (Patsy in the spoof).
In May 2009, she supported the Green Party during the 2009 European Elections campaign. For Joanna Lumley, the work of Green MEPs in the European Parliament in pursuing human rights and animal rights made the Green Party "the obvious choice", and urged UK voters "to cast a positive vote for a better future by voting Green in the European Elections".
As an activist Joanna Lumley is best known for her support for Gurkhas, the exiled Tibetan people and government, the Kondha indigenous people of India, and the Prospect Burma charity which offers grants to Burmese students, for whom she broadcast a BBC Radio 4 charity appeal in 2001.
In 2008 she became the public face of a campaign to provide all Gurkha veterans who served in the British Army before 1997 the right to settle in Britain. Those serving after 1997 had already been granted permission, but the UK Government has not extended the offer to all of the Gurkhas, who are natives of Nepal. They have served Britain for more than 200 years with over 50,000 dying in service, and 13 have been awarded the Victoria Cross. On 20 November 2008, Ms. Lumley led a large all-party group including Gurkhas starting from Parliament Square to 10 Downing Street with a petition signed by 250,000 people. She supports the Gurkha Justice Campaign. On 24 April 2009 she stated that she was "ashamed" of the UK administration's decision to affix five criteria to the Gurkhas' right to settle in the UK. With the support of both Opposition parties and Labour rebel MPs on 29 April 2009 a Liberal Democrat motion that all Gurkhas be offered an equal right of residence was passed, allowing Gurkhas who served before 1997 residence in the UK. Following the Government defeat, the Minister for Immigration Phil Woolas announced that a further review would be completed by the middle of July.
On 5 May Joanna Lumley said that she had received private assurances of support from a senior member of the Royal Family, and attended a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street the following day. Afterwards she described the meeting as "extremely positive", and praised Mr Brown, saying, "I trust him. I rely on him. And I know that he has now taken this matter into his own hands and so today is a very good day."
However, on the day following the meeting with Mr Brown, five Gurkha veterans who had applied for residency in the United Kingdom received letters telling them that their appeals had been rejected - many saw this as a betrayal, despite the fact that for the letters to have been received immediately following the meeting they must have been sent previous to it. Ms Lumley confronted Phil Woolas at the BBC Westminster studios about the issue and, after pursuing him around the studio, the pair held an impromptu press conference in which she pressured him into agreeing to further talks over the issue.
Following a Commons Home Affairs Committee meeting in which talks were held between campaigners, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office on 19 May, Gordon Brown announced to the House of Commons on 20 May that the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith would make a statement on the issue the following day. Ms Smith subsequently announced that all Gurkha veterans who had served four years or more in the British Army before 1997 would be allowed to settle in Britain.
As a result of her campaigning skills there were calls for Joanna Lumley to stand as a Member of Parliament at the forthcoming general election. However, she has dismissed the suggestion. During an appearance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 29 May, she reiterated that she had no desire to run for election to the House of Commons.
In July 2009, Lumley went on a visit to Nepal, upon her arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport she was greeted by crowds of Gurkha supporters, Lumley said in a statement, "I feel so humbled by the fact I'm going to meet so many ex-Gurkhas and their families, and see where they are and how they live." Whilst there, Lumley was hailed 'Daughter of Nepal' by the crowds of fans at the airport.
Joanna Lumley has been a supporter of Survival International and the cause of indigenous rights. She was the narrator of the Survival's documentary, Mine: story of a sacred mountain. The film tells the story of the remote Dongria Kondh tribe in India and their battle to stop a vast bauxite mine from destroying their land and way of life. In defense of the Dongria tribe, she has said, "It greatly disturbs me that a British company will be responsible for the destruction of these wonderful people. I urge the public to support the Dongria, who simply want to be allowed to live in peace. Unlike so many of India's rural poor, the Dongria Kondh actually live very well in the Niyamgiri hills, and it's a terrible irony that what Vedanta is proposing to do in the name of 'development' will actually destroy this completely self-sufficient people." Later, Joana Lumley contributed her writing for the book, We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, released in October 2009, with profits going in support of Survival. The book, composed by a collection of photographs, statements from tribal people, and essays from international authors, explores the richness of the culture of the indigenous peoples around the world, as well as the risks to their existence. In her essay for the book, Lumley speaks of the Dongria way of life, the threat they face in the name of corporate interests, and she calls for action to stop such decision.
Following her rise to fame, she revealed that she had been an unmarried mother during the 1960s when it was socially unacceptable; her son, James, was born in 1967. James Lumley's natural father is the photographer Michael Claydon and is of Anglo Indian ethnicity. The first of her two subsequent marriages was to comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd (Are You Being Served? see early career). In 1986 she married conductor Stephen Barlow; they live in London. They also have a house near the village of Penpont in southern Scotland.
Lumley was awarded an OBE in 1995. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS). She was made an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Kent in July 1994. In 2006 she was awarded an honorary degree from the University of St. Andrews and in July 2008, she was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast.
Alongside her work for the Gurkhas, Lumley is a supporter of many charities, including Suffolk Family Carers and Kids for Kids. She is a vegetarian, of forty years, and a keen supporter of animal rights charities, including CIWF and Viva!. She has donated signed books for the literacy and international development charity Book Aid International. She is patron of the Born Free Foundation and passionate about the Free Tibet campaign. Other charities supported include Mind, ActionAid and SANE.
Joanna Lumley also supports the Burma Campaign UK, an NGO that aims to stop the oppression of the Burmese people by a military regime.
On 26 December 2009, Lumley was awarded the November 2009 Briti-shh Star Of Fame on British celebrity gossip blog, Briti-shh. The site's reason for awarding the November star was: "Joanna fought hard to get the Gurkha's the rights they deserved after fighting alongside the British Army, by demanding they be given the right to immigrate to the UK after their time in the forces had ended...After support from a senior member of the Royal Family, and the British public, she finally won the battle and got the Gurkha's what they deserved. For that, we are proud to have her as a British celebrity and feel that the actress should receive a star in the same year as her victory."
|1969||Some Girls Do||Uncredited|
|On Her Majesty's Secret Service||The English Girl|
|1970||The Breaking of Bumbo||Susie|
|Games That Lovers Play||Fanny Hill|
|1971||The House That Dripped Blood||Uncredited|
|1973||Don't Just Lie There, Say Something!||Giselle Parkyn|
|The Satanic Rites of Dracula||Jessica Van Helsing|
|1982||Trail of the Pink Panther||Marie Jouvet|
|1983||Curse of the Pink Panther||Countess Chandra|
|1989||Shirley Valentine||Marjorie Majors|
|1995||Innocent Lies||Lady Helena Graves|
|1996||James and the Giant Peach||Aunt Spiker|
|1997||Prince Valiant||Morgan le Fay|
|Whispers: An Elephant's Tale||Half Tusk (voice)|
|2001||The Cat's Meow||Elinor Glyn|
|2004||Standing Room Only||Last in Line||Short film|
|Ella Enchanted||Dame Olga|
|2005||The Magic Roundabout||Ermintrude|
|Tim Burton's Corpse Bride||Maudeline Everglot|
|2006||Dolls||Madame Muscat||Short film|
|2009||Boogie Woogie||Alfreda Rhinegold|
|2010||This Beautiful Fantastic||TBA||In production|
|1969||The Wednesday Play||Elsie Engelfield||1 episode|
|1971||It's Awfully Bad For Your Eyes, Darling||Samantha Ryder-Ross||TV series|
|1972||Steptoe and Son||Bunty||1 episode 'Loathe Story'|
|1973||Coronation Street||Elaine Perkins||102 episodes (although some say it was 104)|
|1973-75||Are You Being Served?||Miss French/German Lady||2 episodes 'His and Hers', 'German Week'|
|1976||The Cuckoo Waltz||Harriet Paulden||1 episode 'Babysitter'|
|1976-77||The New Avengers||Purdey||26 episodes. BAFTA win - "Special Award" (2000)|
|1979-82||Sapphire & Steel||Sapphire||34 episodes|
|1981-85||The Kenny Everett Television Show||Various||5 episodes|
|1982||The Weather in the Streets||Kate||TV film|
|1984||Mistral's Daughter||Lally Longbridge||TV mini-series|
|The Glory Boys||Helen||TV film|
|Oxbridge Blues||Gigi||1 episode 'That Was Tory'|
|1986||The Two Ronnies||Miss Dibley||1 episode|
|1990||A Ghost in Monte Carlo||Lady Drayton||TV film|
|1991||A Perfect Hero||Loretta Stone||TV miniseries|
|1992||Lovejoy||Victoria Cavero||3 episodes|
|1992–2005||Absolutely Fabulous||Patsy Stone||37 episodes. British Comedy Award win - "Best Comedy Actress" (1993)
BAFTA win - "Best Light Entertainment Performance" (1993)
BAFTA win - "Best Comedy Performance" (1995)
BAFTA nomination - "Best Comedy Performance" (1996)
BAFTA nomination - "Best Comedy Performance" (1997)
BAFTA nomination - "Best Comedy Performance" (2002)
|1993||Cluedo||Mrs. Peacock||6 episodes|
|1994||Girl Friday||TV series|
|1994-95||Class Act||Kate Swift||14 episodes|
|1995||Cold Comfort Farm||Mrs. Mary Smiling||TV film|
|The Forgotten Toys||Annie (voice)||Animated series|
|1996||Roseanne||Patsy Stone||1 episode 'Satan, Darling'|
|1998||The Tale of Sweeney Todd||Mrs. Lovett||TV film|
|Coming Home||Diana Carey-Lewis||TV serial|
|A Rather English Marriage||Liz Franks||TV film. BAFTA nomination - "Best Actress"|
|1999||Alice in Wonderland||Tiger Lily||TV film|
|Nancherrow||Diana Carey-Lewis||TV film|
|Foxbusters||Sims (voice)||Animation series|
|Dr Willoughby||Donna Sinclair||1 series of 6 episodes|
|2002||Up In Town||Madison Blakelock||TV series. British Comedy Award nomination - "Best Comedy Actress"|
|2004, 2009||Marple||Dolly Bantry||2 episodes 'The Body in the Library' & 'The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side'|
|2005-07||Sensitive Skin||Davina Jackson||12 episodes|
|2006–present||Jam & Jerusalem||Delilah Stagg||6 episodes|
|2009||Lewis||Esme Ford||1 episode 'Counter Culture Blues'|
|2008||Joanna Lumley in the Land of the Northern Lights||Herself|
|Ian Fleming: Where Bond Began||Herself|
|2009||Joanna Lumley Catwoman||Herself|
She has also narrated a number of audiobooks and provided forewords for works by other authors.