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BSkyB has signed a new five-year deal for exclusive rights to HBO shows including 'Game of Thrones', 'Girls'

William Donaldson Week: To Ibiza, and no Miss Lumley

THE PEOPLE at Radio 4 don't seem to have got a grip on programme-making in the least. Their Andrew Johnston rang me on Monday and asked me if I'd like to do a show.

Bowler for sale

(First Edition)

Fashion: Keep it under wraps: Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous wouldn't be seen dead in one, but among the cognoscenti these sumptuous silk shawls from Madagascar are the new 'must have'. Marion Hume tells how the lamba made it from the Indian Ocean to Bond Street

'I've bought three and now I must stop myself,' says Joanna Lumley. The actress who has come to epitomise trashy glamour as Patsy - the fashion world's favourite icon - is in a different mood today. For we are in Bond Street, at the Fine Art Society, where an odd mix of people, from fashion's finest to scientists in desert boots, has gathered to admire and acquire intricate, 7ft silk shawls called lambas.

TELEVISION / There ain't nothing like a cartoon dame

Verity Lambert must enjoy living dangerously. As if the challenge of launching a three-times-a-week soap wasn't enough, she went and called it Eldorado, presenting journalists with an all-you-can- eat buffet of easy jokes. Now she takes on the thankless task of employing an actress, Joanna Lumley, whose career has just been revived by an acclaimed character role in a comedy hit on another channel - an open invitation for invidious comparisons. That isn't hazard enough, though. Just to spice things up she calls the series Class Act (ITV). Had she walked into the Groucho Club wearing a sign saying 'Kick Me', she couldn't have done more to solicit media sniping.

INTERVIEW / Plowman's half hour: Jon Plowman is the straight man behind the funny women played by French and Saunders. Life's a gag, the TV producer tells Sabine Durrant

Murder Most Horrid and Absolutely Fabulous have several things in common. They both rest on the shoulders of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. They're both predominantly directed by Bob Spiers. And they're both produced by Jon Plowman - the man behind the original French & Saunders series, behind Smith & Jones and Fry & Laurie, behind Comic Relief, the man who is BBC Head of Comedy Entertainment. He must be very powerful, this Jon Plowman. 'You could look at everything I've produced over the last few years,' he says, trying to help, 'and analyse a very sick man who has a very sick, sad sense of humour and lives a tragic life, surrounded by a lot of very dominant women'.

TELEVISION / One fat lady, click, click, click

BAD SIGHT of the week came in Special Babies (ITV) as a Caesarian section was performed on a woman who, narrator Julia Somerville confided, weighed 27 stone. It was unclear whether the baby was included in this figure, indeed it was unclear whether the mother's figure included a baby: as her stomach slopped over both sides of the table like a runaway semolina, it was impossible to tell where tissue stopped and issue began. 'We don't normally have half a dozen people holding the patient's anatomy out the way,' a doctor said, as the baby was winkled into the world. There was no question about the staff's devotion, but you did want some answers concerning the ethics of allowing an unconscious woman to become a freak show.

TELEVISION / Fabulously dedicated followers of fashion

IF YOU'VE been feeling stampeded by the recent wave of hype for Absolutely Fabulous (BBC 1), then the first episode of the second series put the cap on it. There were guest appearances by Helena Bonham Carter, Mandy Rice-Davies, Richard E Grant, Germaine Greer and Suzi Quatro, all obligingly appearing in one of Edina's self-gratifying dreams. The message was clear - we've got clout. It's an odd spectacle - a comedy that made its name by mocking the sheep-like followers of fashion and which is now itself so fashionable that it can assemble its own celebrity flock.

Fashion Update: Fashion page

JOANNA LUMLEY has only just replaced her image of the high-kicking, Seventies siren Purdey with the heavy-drinking high-hairdo'ed Patsy when it seems the Purdey pudding-basin haircut is on the verge of a comeback.

Media: Let them lust after Lumley: With her eye - and ear - for a laugh, Jennifer Saunders needn't be concerned about her co-star stealing the limelight, says Jaci Stephen

At a recent event held in honour of George Cole's 100th Minder, a group of male journalists sat around a table picking at chicken breasts and demanding the waiter stop serving the wine and simply leave the bottles on the table. The scene was, as is usual at such events, a noisy and frantic one. The talk was of Absolutely Fabulous and the launch for the second series, which had taken place a few days before.

Oh darlings, fabulous news for 8 million viewers

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.

Media / Talk of the Trade: Absolute winner

JENNIFER Saunders won another award yesterday to add to those she has already scooped for French and Saunders and Absolutely Fabulous. In the Carlton TV Women in Film and Television Awards for 1993 she was cited for 'the creation of work that has contributed to the advancement of women'.

Review: You have to be mad to work here, it's essential

TOM PETERS wants to rewrite that old office gag, 'You don't have to be crazy to work here but it helps'. In a world where a computer that's been on the market for four months is an 'old' product, he suggests that you stand more chance of success if the poster reads, 'You do have to be crazy to work here - it's essential'. Unfortunately he suggests this to a large gathering of suits whose idea of going crazy would be to use a Snoopy biro to fill in their triplicate inventory control reports. As he strides backwards and forwards preaching the virtues of the paperless office and perpetual revolution, his audience sat there scribbling like freshmen at their first lecture - 'we are hpllsly dull in undull wrld'.

RADIO / The fizz that gives you whizz

OK, SO 'OK' is the best-known phrase on earth, but what is the second-best? Here's a clue. In Chinese, it translates as 'bite the wax tadpole'. That isn't much of a choice, so here's another. In Mexico, they call it the black waters of Yankee imperialism. No? Well it is Coca-Cola. The story of its rise to world domination was the subject of the first in a series of American Icons, part of the current State of the States season on the World Service. As an icon, a mysterious image of supernatural power, it's the surreal thing.

The British Comedy Awards 1993

And the nominations are:

ETCETERA / Other People's Jobs: No 1 THE HAIRDRESSER

THERE is the photograph with the peacock feather arranged diagonally across it, cutting the mouth into two uneven parts. One side is grinning, the other is down-turned. 'That's there to give the impression the feather is tickling the mouth out of shape,' explains the owner and chief artist-in-hair of 'Hair By Christmas' - Elton Sydney Paschal Clough. ('My real name. I live with my mother, etcetera.').
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