Beginnings: launched her career as a model, appearing in a 1960s TV commercial for Scottish Cashmere.

Bond girl: She played the ultimate english rose in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Purdey in The New Avengers. Her career peaked as the coke-snorting champagne-guzzling Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous.

Class act: Lumley was born into the upper classes of Kashmiri society in 1946, the second daughter of a major in the Gurkha Rifles.

Pet concerns? She cares... for pigs. Lumley cuddled a piglet outside parliament to protest against the horror of live animal transport, veal crates and battery chickens.

Recent adventures? Agent Lumley was recently sent where nobody, bar about five people, had ever been. The rolling mountains of Bhutan. Her mission: to produce a travel programme that would live up to the title King of the Thunder Dragon.

Girl power rating? Very high. Students of New College, Oxford, renamed the Nelson Mandela Junior Common Room after the actress, who was also made an OBE three years ago.