With a beam which literally radiated out into the auditorium of the Lowry Theatre, Joanna Lumley was before us. I’ve been a few of these “Evening With” nights but this one was special. Lumley looked as excited as we did for the Salford stop on her It’s All About Me tour.
She launched straight into the retrospective, telling us about her ill-fated audition for RADA, more attempts to act and before getting caught up by the irresistible lure of modelling in a London in the grip of the swinging Sixties.
Luckily for us, acting was in her blood and she soon found her way back onto screens, first as a Bond girl with the line “I bet I know what he’s allergic to” to Purdey from the New Avengers, Sapphire from the quirky Sapphire and Steel to the iconic Patsy Stone from Absolutely Fabulous.
There are so many wonderful anecdotes she shared with us that she had us eating out of her hand. As an Absolutely Fabulous superfan, it was fascinating to see where Lumley’s life had found its way into inspiration for Patsy, the modelling years in particular.
I’m not going to share any spoilers with you but whenever I see Patsy and Eddie in the back of the limo, I will always think of Lumley turning up to try out for Patsy and Jennifer Saunders being too shy to speak to her resulting in Lumley begging her agent to get her out of the role. Luckily for us this didn’t happen, no-one else could play Pats.
For the second half, Lumley was joined on stage by long-time collaborator and producer of her travel documentaries, Clive Tulloh. The banter between the two of them was infectious as Clive read out questions we had submitted before the show. Sadly they didn’t ask my question but we were treated to Lumley’s take on Ab Fab’s gay following “We were horrible to everyone”, her first kiss during a game of kiss catch which put her right off the boy in question and who came up with the hairdo for Purdey which was copied by a generation, yes it was Lumley ably assisted by a trainee John Freida and salon junior, Nicky Clarke.
The audience were definitely up for it with lots of shout outs and interaction with the legend before us. The best bit of the whole evening though was Lumley’s irrepressible demeanour, she seems to radiate positivity. At one point she was asked about depression and she gave the answer that if you pretend hard enough to be happy, eventually you will be. These are wise words indeed in these dark times.
It was an evening that I didn’t want to end but end it must, however instead of grumbling about the freezing cold weather when I went outside, I pretended to like it and by the time I got to the car, it wasn’t too bad. Maybe there’s something in this.