PASSED/FAILED: Lynne Franks

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The Independent Online
Lynne Franks, 49, is credited with being the original for the Jennifer Saunders character in Absolutely Fabulous. When she was 21, she started up what became Britain's highest-profile PR agency, later selling it off. She was chair of the women's radio station Viva! and has just been made a Fellow of the World Business Academy, which is dedicated to positive social changes. Her autobiography, Absolutely Now!, is published by Century this month.

Absolute Beginners? I went to a lovely nursery school two doors away from our home in north London run by Mrs Dacre, mother of the current editor of The Daily Mail. Paul was a very sweet, angelic little boy but I lost contact after the age of five. My sister went there, too, and there were about a dozen of us.

Strings to Your Bowes? I went to the local Bowes Road Primary School. We were taught French, which was unusual for a state primary school. Afterwards I read that David Puttnam was there a few years earlier.

Mind Your Grammar? I wasn't a very academic student at grammar school. I was form captain for a few years running and was very social, the organiser of social events like dances for the school and Oxfam. Talking was always a favourite occupation and I used to speak in class forums.

Dedicated Follower of Fashion? I was always very interested in fashion and lifestyle trends; if it was bowling alleys that were trendy, I'd be first at the bowling alley. I think my friends looked to me to give them the nod. The head teacher used to call me in on a daily basis for wearing the wrong coat, the wrong jewellery and the wrong hairstyle. I used to read the fashion and music magazines; one boy, who went on to become a very successful record producer, told me that I had got him interested by bringing in a copy of NME every week.

O-levels? I enjoyed English and passed literature and language, as well as history and French.

Absolute Zero? Sciences weren't my thing; to focus on them took energy I wasn't prepared to give. I failed physics, biology and chemistry - I didn't even go into half the exams. I also failed maths, although since then I've always been good at learning about money. I didn't take A-levels.

Absentee Fabulous? At 16 I went to do a shorthand-typing course for eight months but left with very poor speeds because I was always skiving off to the movies and shopping. I was one of the regular dancers on [the TV show] Ready Steady Go.

Frankly Speaking? I was lucky being able to do what I've done without academic qualifications, which is not so easy now. I feel I've been at the University of Life. I have done a lot of lecturing at academic institutions and even found myself speaking at an Oxford Union debate on fashion organised by Elle; I was doing PR for the magazine and stepped in at a few hours' notice when one of the speakers dropped out. Afterwards, the Union president asked me for a job. My children have had a lot more opportunities than I had: they were privately educated, travelled a lot, had a more international vision - spoilt, basically!n

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