Absolutely Fabulous is back for a rumoured three-parter to air at Christmas. Stylist asked Lynne Franks, the PR legend who AbFab’s Edina is said to be based on, for her personal take on the sitcom’s return.
"Ab Fab was fiendishly funny, but also a show with a strong message: it was written by a woman – the brilliant Jennifer Saunders – with an almost all-woman cast, about a PR business run by a woman. It was also an opportunity for those of us then in the fashion and media worlds to laugh at ourselves, but I have to admit that I didn’t find it very funny at the time. The media immediately named me as the inspiration behind Edina’s character, despite a strong denial from both Jennifer and myself. But as founder of my eponymous PR agency, running London Fashion Week and working with top designers and celebrities (Jennifer and Dawn French were even clients once), I can see why the comparison was obvious. I appreciate I can be larger than life, I was a chanting Buddhist at that point, had a son and daughter (my son says he was Saffy), a blonde ‘bubbly’ secretary and a house that bore a strong resemblance to Edina’s.
I was in total denial, of course. I took myself far too seriously to be thought of as the flaky Edina and despite a reputation at the time for changing my designer outfits three times a day – plus probably throwing in a few ‘darlings’, air kisses and even the odd ‘absolutely fabulous, sweetie’ – I convinced myself that she had nothing to do with me. At that point, I was selling my business and about to embark on a spiritual journey, so it was all very mortifying. The irony was that while I was miffed at being identified as the ‘real’ Eddie, I constantly met women who claimed that the character was, in fact, based on them."
While I was miffed at being identified as the ‘real’ Eddie, I constantly met women who claimed she was, in fact, based on them
"Now though, when I look back at old episodes, I howl with laughter at the scenes that I identify with – Edina going on her own spiritual journey and hugging a tree; the crazy Buddhist PR on her mobile phone barking, instructions to her staff as she walks through her office; the supermarket shopping trip where she gets confused and ends up with three full trolleys.
I’m dying to know what the new Ab Fab will be about in this recession-hit world. I’ve heard a rumour that Edina wants to become a celebrity herself and, after my appearance on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, I have a suspicion that a reality show might raise its head. Patsy is apparently running a private members’ club although I suspect of a very different type to B.Hive, the women’s business club I launched a year ago. One of my biggest regrets is that I was invited to do a cameo in the first series which I, in my huff, foolishly turned down. Would I do it if I was invited now? You can bet your life on it!"