Joanna Lumley OBE, British TV actress 1946 - date
A beautiful, leggy, sexy blonde, a high-kicking tough chick with a wicked smile and neat and effective martial arts moves.
Oh, for a flash of those legs! I make no apologies for my crush on her - that was how I first knew her, and a lot of other British men doubtless feel the same. The show was The New Avengers, the year was 1976 and Joanna Lumley was discovered by an adoring TV public.
Of course there is more to Joanna than high-kicking and long legs. She has modelled, danced and starred in films, TV shows and done charity work. Honoured by the Queen and recognised by millions, she is a household name and face.
Born in the Kashmir on 1st May 1946 to James and Beatrice Lumley, she enjoyed travel troughout the Middle East and Asia, with her father, a captain in the Gurkha Rifles, and was finally sent to school in England. She took up ballet, but failed an audition to RADA and took up modelling, being photographed by many of the 'greats', including Lord Litchfield.
Her acting career
She discovered acting, as many aspiring stars have done, through parts in television advertising. Joanna's first role was the 'Nimble' girl for the UK Nimble Bread series. Now bitten, and infected by the acting bug, she began her film career. A one-line part in Some Girls Do began it for her, and she followed up with the unlikely role of the voice actor playing the part of ZsaZsa, the cat in the BBC's kids series, Hector's House. She even appeared in the British soap, Coronation Street, for eight weeks, as well as appearing in the comedies, Steptoe and Son and Are You Being Served?. Some may remember her in the Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service, where she also had a bit part.
It was 1976, however, which propelled her to real stardom. Offered the part of Steed's sidekick in The New Avengers, she quickly became a central character in the series, and stamped her mark on the British consciousness (as did her cohort, Gareth Hunt). She played the refined yet tough and intelligent character of Purdey for eighteen months, before accepting the role of Sapphire, playing opposite David McCallum in the futuristic Sapphire and Steel, which ran from 1979 to 1982.
Continuing to appear in films and TV series, she seemed to pop up almost everywhere for a long time, before suddenly making yet another big appearance in 1992 with another well-loved and memorable TV character - this time, as the delightfully, outrageously camp and hedonistic Patsy Stone, in Absolutely Fabulous. The show has just started another series, and she (both Joanna and her character) is as sexy and fiesty as ever.
Awards and other non-trivia
She has done a great deal of charity work, especially for Children in Need and Comic Relief, and as a vegetarian, continues to campaign for animal rights.
She and Jennifer Saunders worked with the Pet Shop Boys to produce an "Absolutely Fabulous" song for Comic Relief in 1994. In the same year, she received an honorary doctorate from Kent University. She was awarded the OBE in 1995 for her services both to the community and the world of entertainment.
She also received an Emmy award in 1994, followed in 1995 by a Bafta Award for the Best Comedy Performance for AbFab.