Oh darlings, fabulous news for 8 million viewers

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The Independent Online
YOU WOULD have thought it was the world premiere of some great lost work by Orson Welles. Instead, more than 100 journalists had packed into a room at the Lansdowne Club in London yesterday to glimpse the eagerly awaited second series of Absolutely Fabulous, writes Rhys Williams.

To describe the programme, written by Jennifer Saunders, as 'the comedy sensation of last year' sounds like the sort of plug you normally see plastered across theatre posters. But in this case, it vaguely resembles the truth. The first series - which starred Ms Saunders (above right, with Joanna Lumley), Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks - picked up two Baftas, an Emmy and 8 million viewers, a record for BBC 2. The programme, a parody of the absurd world of fashion PR, has since been switched to BBC 1 in that channel's search for ratings.

Ms Lumley's efforts as Patsy, a fashion magazine editor, were rewarded with awards and the resurrection of her acting career - witness the number of commercials she has started to appear in.

Ms Saunders called the prospect of writing a second series on the back of the first's massive success 'terrifying'. Sounding like the Princess of Wales commenting on her public appearances, she promised: 'The next will be the last. Er, definitely.'

Patsy is back with the biggest beehive outside the Gales Honey Farm. She has an affair with an MP ('MP in Drug Crazed Sex Romp with Flash Fash Slag'), gives an interview to Hello] and gets a facelift. 'It was filmed last June, so the story line wasn't topical then,' Jon Plowman, the producer, pointed out hastily. 'But it's constantly topical,' Ms Saunders observed.

Would Ms Lumley ever sell a story to Hello]? 'The money's never been right.' And would she consider plastic surgery? 'Readily.'

(Photograph omitted)