Angel of Death in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
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Joanna Lumley was educated at St Mary's School, Sussex. Tall, leggy, thin and blonde, she spent three years as a photographic model and also worked as a house model for the late Jean Muir. She then began her acting career as a Bond girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
From Bond, she went on to have a brief, but memorable, role in tv's long running soap Coronation Street in which she turned down Ken Barlow's offer of marriage.
Her first major role, however, 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. Lumley's bobbed hairstyle quickly became known as the 'Purdey bob' and was hugely popular for a time in the mid-1970s.
In 1979 she appeared in another series with a cult following: Sapphire and Steel, opposite David McCallum. Conceived as ITV's answer to Doctor Who, Lumley played a mysterious ephemeral being ('Sapphire') who, with her cohort 'Steel', dealt with breaches in the fabric of time.
Lumley went on to find fame with a new generation for her portrayal of the chain smoking, boozing drug-taking sexpot Patsy Stone on the British comedy television show Absolutely Fabulous (1992 - 2004).
She has specialised in playing upper-class parts, and her distinctive plummy voice has reinforced this. However 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.
Other work has included: The Curse of Fatal Death - a special 1999 Comic Relief episode of Doctor Who - where she was a female version of the Doctor, 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. In 1995 she provided the voice of Annie the rag doll in the animated series The Forgotten Toys. In 2000 she co-produced a new drama series entitled The Cazalet Chronicles. She has also appeared in a tv series on Sarawak, where she spent time as a girl.
She is a great animal rights campaigner, vegetarian and charity worker. Proceeds from her photo sales on Bondstars will be donated to her chosen charities.
Joanna Lumley Filmography