Media / Talk of the Trade: Absolutely two-dimensional

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The Independent Online
IS Absolutely Fabulous really so fabulous? Perhaps I've lost my sense of humour, or the repeats on BBC 1 have come too soon. Or is it that the jokes about overdosing on alcohol and drugs are a bit two-dimensional?

Gasps of horror were heard from BBC bigwigs at the Cambridge Television Convention last month when the Observer columnist Melanie Phillips described the central character, Edina, as a bad role model mother because she rolled around drunk in the gutter. Will Wyatt, managing director of BBC Television, took her on one side to explain the joke: the sensible daughter had adopted the mother's role.

That's not my grouse: I've just found the hopeless incompetence of Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) too far-fetched to be truly funny the second time around.

Their stab at a holiday in France last week, which consisted of Edina rushing around frenetically and then visiting a vineyard to get drunk, required such a huge suspension of belief that I felt strained. And would two fashion industry types really not understand one word of French? With Lynne Franks (thought by some to be the inspiration for Edina) stepping down from her PR agency, perhaps an ephemeral era has already passed into history.

The series was a huge hit for BBC 2 last year, attracting record audiences. This is heresy . . . but will the new series, planned for mainstream BBC 1, be quite so in tune with the times?

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