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Joanna Lumley; Jennifer Saunders as Edina and Patsy in 'Absolutely Fabulous'

2 of 5 portraits of Joanna Lumley

Joanna Lumley; Jennifer Saunders as Edina and Patsy in 'Absolutely Fabulous', by Trevor Leighton, 1996 - NPG x125837 - © Trevor Leighton / National Portrait Gallery, London

© Trevor Leighton / National Portrait Gallery, London

Joanna Lumley; Jennifer Saunders as Edina and Patsy in 'Absolutely Fabulous'

by Trevor Leighton
cibachrome print, 1996
11 1/2 in. x 11 1/2 in. (293 mm x 293 mm)
Given by Trevor Leighton, 1999 in conjunction with the exhibition 'Faces of the Century'
Photographs Collection
NPG x125837

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Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Trevor Leighton (1957-), Photographer. Artist associated with 248 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

'Ab Fab' began as a short sketch in a French and Saunders television show. Saunders developed the idea, and the first series ran in 1992. It starred Saunders (b.1958) as Edina (left), head of a PR agency, and Lumley (b. 1946) as her friend Patsy (right), editor of a fashion magazine. Lumley moved from playing classic English roses to drunken, louche Patsy, reinventing herself as an exceptional comedic actress to the surprise and delight of viewers. The series was immediately a great success, winning two BAFTA awards. A further four series and four specials followed, with a further special for the 2012 Olympics.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Faces of the Century, 1999 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 22 October 1999 to 30 January 2000), p. 69

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1996back to top

Current affairs

The largest ever IRA bomb is detonated in Manchester causing the destruction of many buildings and over 200 injuries. Nobody died in the incident because a warning was given and the area evacuated. After the bombing much of Manchester was rebuild and in 1998 it won a successful bid to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Prince Charles and Princess Diana finalise their divorce after four years of separation.

Art and science

The Spice Girls enjoy massive popular success with their first single Wannabe going straight to Number 1. The group are remembered as much for their sassy, outspoken 'girl power' attitude and their continuing subsequent celebrity as for their music. Danny Boyle tells the story of a group of Edinburgh heroin addicts in his critically acclaimed film version of Irvine Welsh's novel Trainspotting.


The First Chechnya War breaks out between Chechnya and Russia when Russian forces invade the country in support of Chechnyan opposition to the government. The invasion went badly with strong Chechnyan resistance and dissent in the Russian command. However, a truce was finally established after Russia seized the capital Grozny. More than 46,000 people died as a result of the conflict.

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