This Christmas and New Year sees the return of Absolutely Fabulous, with two new episodes. Jennifer Saunders (Edina Monsoon) filmed with the rest of the original cast in August to mark the show’s 20th anniversary.
Julia Sawlha (Saffy Monsoon), Joanna Lumley (Patsy), June Whitfield (Mother) and Jane Horrocks (Bubble) all return to the show, which is centered on the world of PR.
The audacious antics of Edina and Patsy epitomised Nineties excess and continued on and off till 2004. This Christmas’s two episodes will be shown on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, with a third show for 2012 to coincide with the London Olympics.
Episode one, entitled ‘Identity’, sees a homecoming in the Monsoon household with a not-necessarily-welcome best friend in tow.
Absolutely Fabulous Christmas Day 10.00pm and New Year’s Day 9.40pm, BBC One
For the Absolutely Fabulous fan who has everything, there is Absolutely Everything. This complete DVD boxset harvests every series, special and spin-off and adds audio commentary from Jennifer Saunders and producer Jon Plowman.
French & Saunders have three brand new editions of their shows over the festive period. Choose from these Christmas and New Year highlights:
The Vicar of Dibley
Christmas Day 9.25pm BBC ONE
Absolutely Fabulous Christmas Special
Christmas Day 10.30pm BBC ONE
The Vicar of Dibley
New Year's Day 9.00pm BBC ONE
Read more about the The Vicar of Dibley's place in the Make Poverty History campaign.
Here's the latest feed on what French & Saunders are doing this Christmas.
There will be two seasonal episodes of The Vicar of Dibley, the first for five years. Part one follows the village's attempts to pull together a harmonious Christmas with a carol-writing competition and a cocktail party. Needless to say even the best laid plans can fall foul, and these aren't the best laid plans.
Highlights of part two, a New Year special, include the Vicar trying to convice the parishioners to share her big plans for the 20th Anniversary of Live Aid. The humanitarian effort culminates in a special appeal that you'll just have to tune in to see.
It's also the vicar's 40th birthday. "Geraldine is getting older... and wider," says Dawn French, "and wonders whether she's wasted her life because she's been in Dibley for ten years. She's wondering whether she's made the right decision at all."
This and other issues are touched upon in these two new episodes, plus a Comic Relief special coming up in 2005.
Meanwhile in an Absolutely Fabulous Christmas special there's a new baby in the house, but that won't stop Edina indulging in her latest project: interior design. To this end she is helped by her new friends Bettina (played by Miranda Richardson) and Max (Patrick Barlow). She turns to regression therapy to focus her mind, as usual accompanied all the while by the outrageous Patsy.
Jennifer Saunders was interviewed by the Times newspaper about her role in Shrek 2 and more. She revealed that a Christmas edition of Absolutely Fabulous is due for this year. "The pressure is huge... [but] it's good fun making it."
On the subject of her and Dawn French's history of doing movie parodies she says, "That happened by accident. We're trying to move away from them, but the BBC love them.
"Secretly we'd like to do a BBC Three series rather than BBC One."
Because you'll be busy elbowing other shoppers this week, here for your convenience is all the ways you can catch French & Saunders this Christmas time.
Absolutely Fabulous: Cold Turkey
Wed 24 Dec, 21:05 - 21:40 BBC ONE; Sun 28 Dec, 22:00 - 22:35 BBC THREE
Comedians' Comedians: French and Saunders
Fri 26 Dec, 08:00 - 08:30 and 22:30 - 23:00; Sat 27 Dec, 04:00 - 04:30 BBC 7 (Digital radio)
French and Saunders Actually
Fri 26 Dec, 23:00 - 23:40 BBC ONE
Comic Relief 2003 Highlights
Tue 30 Dec, 23:20 - 00:50 BBC ONE
The Story of Absolutely Fabulous
Fri 02 Jan, 21:00 - 22:00 BBC ONE
Four video clips from various editions of Absolutely Fabulous are available for viewing in Quicktime format at Warner Bros.' website.
A new series of Absolutely Fabulous starts on Friday 17 October. Be prepared for series five with frenchandsaunders.com's microsite. It's a capsule of episode info, pictures and news and you can see it now.
Don't forget the AbFab messageboard.
Jennifer Saunders will be talking to Michael Parkinson this Saturday 11 October, 10.25pm
If you're looking for news of when series five of Absolutely Fabulous starts, it will begin on Friday 17th October on BBC ONE.
For the first time you can now see the following week's show on BBC THREE, right after the BBC ONE episode.
The BBC has announced its Autumn schedule, including the fifth series of Absolutely Fabulous.
In a nutshell, Edina is now working as a Celebrity PR (CPR) while Patsy is scaring clients at a concept fashion store. Celebrity guests joining in include Emma Bunton, Fern Britton, Elton John and more.
'Absolument Fabuleux', the French language cinema spin-off from 'Absolutely Fabulous' received a special preview screening in Paris on July 4.
In front of an invited audience the one-off film put a whole new tilt on the 'AbFab' phenomenon with an all new but strangely familiar assault of mirth, mishap and mayhem.
Moving in new circles among the film's French cast is creator Jennifer Saunders, who shares the spotlight with Catherine Deneuve in a small speaking role.
Having the only UK eyes on the preview screening, frenchandsaunders.com can bring you an exclusive blow-by-blow advance look at the film in a new microsite devoted to this very special spin-off.
Brief yourself on the cast and story of the first international adaptation of 'Absolutely Fabulous', whose fourth TV series is currently in post-production.
'AbFab' aficionados will get the chance to see their favourite show in print this autumn. Jennifer Saunders has put pen to paper to write a new book with input from the entire 'Absolutely Fabulous' cast.
As series four of the show records in London, publishers Hodder Headline revealed that they will release the book to accompany the new six-part series. The tie-in, to be published this autumn, will feature over 100 original photos, handwritten script notes, interviews with the cast, personal anecdotes and monologues about the characters.
As well as the regular cast, the famous faces from the highly anticipated new series are there, including Jamie Oliver, Twiggy, Lady Victoria Hervey and Stephen Gately.
Lyndsay Symons of Hodder Headline said, "We are all such massive fans of the show that we were determined to publish this book from the word go."
She continued: "I'm so thrilled that Jennifer has already shown such commitment to the project ï¿½ it's going to be great fun to publish and sure to be the number one humour title this Christmas."
The new series will be shown on BBC1 in September. CLICK HERE for frenchandsaunders.com's series four feature site.
Tonight in west London, Jennifer Saunders' comedy of high life, high fashion and high dysfunction makes its comeback, with the first of six 'Absolutely Fabulous' studio recordings.
The episodes are being filmed at BBC Television Centre, and star the show's original cast, Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield and Julia Sawalha (that's an awful lot of 'J's to you and me).
Fans of the show have made a beeline for the recordings, many travelling from abroad. Catch up with these AbFanatics in the frenchandsaunders.com 'Absolutely Fabulous' discussion forum HERE.
Certain location shots have already been shot in London and Paris, with guest stars such as Twiggy, Stephen Gately and Sacha Distel making appearances.
With location shots canned, there's just a week before series four of 'Absolutely Fabulous' moves into the studio to film the first of six new episodes. To follow the fun, frenchandsaunders.com launches its brand spanking new 'Absolutely Fabulous' series 4 feature site.
We'll track Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha and Jane Horrocks throughout filming the new series, which airs in the UK in September 2001.
As well as news and guides, the site gives you the chance to dress up Edina Monsoon in some alternative outfits and show how 'Absolutely Fabulous' you are by putting your knowledge of the show through a brainiac's quiz.
frenchandsaunders.com is also arranging a series of 'AbFab' live chats throughout the filming period. Talk live with other fans and clue yourself up on all the new shows as they are made.
Jennifer Saunders has awarded fans of 'Absolutely Fabulous' an early Christmas present. The hit show will return for a new series in 2001.
Saunders made up her mind to revive the show after making the Spring pilot episode of 'Mirrorball', itself to be shown on 22 December. She explained, "We had such a great time making 'Mirrorball' that we all wanted to work together again.
"But when I sat down to write the new characters I felt Edina and Patsy and all the other 'Ab Fab' characters vying for my attention. So in the end I gave in."
The world of PR terrorist Edina Monsoon and her gaunt companion will have moved on since 1996's 'The Last Shout'. In the new series Edina is sandwiched between the upwardly mobile worlds of her daughter Saffron, who has found success as an actress, and her mother (June Whitfield), who has found a job and a new man.
Patsy (Joanna Lumley) has inherited the PR mantle and is finding its hide tough to scratch, even with her claws.
These changes are the result of a meld between 'Mirrorball' and the 'Ab Fab' we know. The series already share a common cast, including Jane Horrocks, who brings her Icelandic waitress, Yitta Hilberstam, to the updated show to displace dippy PA Bubble.
Saunders, currently touring Britain with Dawn French, continued: "I'm looking forward to moving the characters into the new millennium, and adding a few new ones."
A scene from the 1992 episode of 'Absolutely Fabulous', 'Fashion', is featured in Radio Times magazine's 50 Funniest British Comedy Moments. From the magazine:
'In the scene voted the third most memorable moment, Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) has attended her somehow successful fashion show and has been on a bender with the sodden beanpole Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley). Returning home late, Patsy staggers from their chauffeured car and opens the door for Edina, who falls out backwards and slithers from the vehicle cartoon-style.
'A boot trailing from one foot, she proceeds up her garden path, trying to pretend to waiting daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha) that she is not drunk, and falls sideways into a flowerbed.
'Veteran comedy writer Carla Lane says, "Anybody can write a drunken scene, but the way that was executed was just fantastic."'
The comedy moment won third place in the league, just behind two slapstick occasions from 'Only Fools and Horses'. Among the panel of voters were Ronnie Barker, 'Birds of a Feather' writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, Caroline Quentin, Victoria Wood and 'AbFab''s own June Whitfield.
The BBC is soon to be recording the pilot episode of a new comedy. The show, 'Mirrorball', is written by and stars Jennifer Saunders and features cast members of the worldwide hit 'Absolutely Fabulous'. The show is being filmed in front of a live studio audience in London on Sunday 16 April, 2000.
More information about this new comedy programme can be found at frenchandsaunders.com's 'Mirrorball' showpage HERE.