Last week, I watched the first part of a documentary about one person’s journey to the source of the Nile. It’s been done before by many different presenters but none captured my interest the way Joanna Lumley has.
What is it about her?
Is it that we are of an age?
Or that various roles she played have created markers in my own life?
My first encounter with blonde Ms. Lumley was not long after my husband and I married, when she became the striking, afraid-of-nothing Purdey from The Avengers.
I’d always been an Avengers fan but Purdey captured my twenty-something’s imagination so much, not only did I have my hair cut in the Purdey style (no images of self will be shown!), but we named our first Jack Russell after her.
Then of course there was Ab Fab – and no, nothing about Pats captured me enough to make me a drug addict or name my dog after her. But she made me laugh till my sides split and I sooo admired Saffi’s patience. (But I have been known to occasionally put the hair in a French roll although not as much air or hair as Pats.)
There have been the Miss Marples where Lumley plays Miss Marple’s best friend – a wonderfully portrayed eccentric. And there have been many roles I haven’t been fortunate enough to see… roles she describes with fresh honesty in her book, Absolutely.
There’ve been other documentaries. Her Girl Friday documentary was impressive. Filmed off the coast of Madagascar it was laced with truth, no artifice, no makeup, no smart clothes – telling it like was – difficult. She did what I could never do! Survivor without the glitz and prizes.
Then the Search for the Northern Lights – enthusiasm, delight… such delight that it’s impossible not to share in the thrill. Each time, she peels away the layers allowing one woman’s view of a particular event.
Her successful effort waging war on Parliament for the Gurkhas was covered internationally… she became an outspoken heroine.
And now the Nile.
So what is it about her?
For both my husband and myself it is, as mentioned, unbounded enthusiasm, sometimes the most delicious but miniscule naivety. She uses the wonderfully English word ‘thrilling’ to describe so much and one is quite capable of being ‘thrilled’ by her. She displays superb etiquette and respect for the cultures in which she finds herself and just occasionally a little bit of naughtiness – that tiny seductive glint – timeless flirting in action and men in every culture and of any age adoring her for it.
It’s so refreshing to watch television and see natural enjoyment of life displayed spontaneously, and especially by someone from my own generation.
Today, so much has the capacity to make one feel tired, disillusioned and bored.
Thankfully life through Joanna’s eyes is the complete reverse.
Charm, niceness and a lovely voice. Somewhere I have a colour supplement photo of JL wearing a chain mail necklace I made. Her Avengers was repeated some time ago – possibly fifteen years? and I did enjoy it, absurd though it was, and would watch it again.
Beautiful voice, I quite agree. Upper class but without being exclusionist. And do you know, I think I can recall that image with the chain mail necklace!
Check out Sensitive Skin. Fantastic.
Oh, I had forgotten Sensitive Skin… enjoyed it immensely. Saw it about 18 months ago.
I just love her! She’s the inspiration for the heroine of my new mystery No Place Like Home. Or at least I imagine my heroine looking like her. I wasn’t aware of her documentaries. I’ll have to check them out.
Anne, you clever thing! I would LOVE to base a character on her. I found an image of her looking as if she were about to cry and a whole new JL persona opened up before me. I’ve not seen a lot of her serious roles and I think it’s a shame really as I am sure she has the depth. She certainly has the voice.