If it doesn’t seem like twenty years since you first saw Absolutely Fabulous, you’re right. The series debuted on the BBC on November 12, 1992, and earned BAFTAs the following spring for Best Comedy and Best Light Entertainment Performance for Joanna Lumley. Sure, it was a hit in Britain, but the trade papers were sure that it would never work over here. It was simply too rude, and politically incorrect. The tide may have turned when it picked up the 1993 International Emmy, which after all is awarded by American juries. At any rate, Absolutely Fabulous made its American premiere on Comedy Central on July 24, 1994, and we haven’t been the same since.
Two of the Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials, “Identity” and “Job,” have already aired on BBC America and Logo, and the third, “Olympics,” should air sometime this summer. On the strength of the first two specials, Jennifer Saunders has already won this year’s BAFTA for Best Female Performance in a Comedy. And Lindsay Duncan’s turn as an iconic French film star in “Job” is not to be missed. If you didn’t catch the Absolutely Fabulous sketch when BBC America aired Sport Relief Goes Global last March, you’ll be relieved that we were able to include it on the DVD, available in September.
Remembering Caroline John: We are saddened to learn of the recent death of Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw opposite Jon Pertwee in Season Seven (1970) of Doctor Who. The character was a qualified and outspoken scientist just right for the emerging feminism of that era, but her qualifications precluded her from asking the Doctor those basic questions that keep the audience abreast of the situation. Despite Miss Shaw’s short run in Doctor Who, she remains one of the most respected of the Doctor’s companions. Caroline John has been much in our minds lately as we screened the test disc to Spearhead from Space Special Edition (whose all-on-film episodes now look as good as an Avengers or Prisoner episode), and as we combed the archives for stills from The Ambassadors of Death DVD, whose commentary features Caroline John, her husband Geoffrey Beevers and Nicholas Courtney. The newly mastered Spearhead from Space will also be playing on the Paley Center’s big screen on August 25th as part of its ongoing Doctor Who screening series.