Dame Edna takes a bundle of cash from Jeffrey Archer

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The Independent Online
DAME EDNA EVERAGE is being bankrolled by Jeffrey Archer.

The unlikely combination - they have apparently been friends for 20 years - presented themselves at Lord Archer's penthouse flat in London yesterday, complete with its Lowrys and Monets, to announce that Lord Archer will be putting up the pounds 500,000 for Dame Edna's next West End show.

In a press conference by the Dame which turned into a monologue almost as long and just as funny as one of her shows, she broke with the usual convention of actorly solidarity.

She would show herself on stage, she said, to be "a kind of upmarket Judi Dench, an attractive Glenda Jackson, a well-dressed Diana Rigg".

The all-new show will for the first time tell the story of Dame Edna's childhood, youth and marriage to ill-fated Norm, as well as his subsequent unfortunate medical history.

"My husband's first urological accident has been set to music and dance - that's unique in the history of theatre," Dame Edna said.

"Funnily enough, since he passed away, his prostate has never been in better health."

Dame Edna's alter ego Barry Humphries will pop up in the show to play Rupert Murdoch. Dame Edna wins a "lovely mother" prize in Melbourne and it is sponsored by "The Daily Murdoch".

The second half will be Dame Edna with old sidekick Madge, who has threatened to rival Lord Archer in the running for London's mayor.

Lord Archer said he and fellow art lover Mr Humphries went back 20 years and he had asked the peer if he could launch the show in his sumptuous riverside apartment.

He had not seen all the show, including songs by Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel. But he said: "You will not feel surprised if there are some fairly well-known tunes with different words. And you will not be surprised if the audience is invited to sing along."

Edna - the Spectacle Returns has its premiere at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, Surrey, a week tomorrow. It stays there until it moves to the Theatre Royal in the West End on Saturday 21 March.

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