Joanna Lumley

Joanna Lumley

Actress and campaigner Joanna Lamond Lumley was born on the 1st May 1946 in Kashmir, Northern India to Major James Rutherford Lumley and Thya Rose Weir. Joanna’s father served in the 6th Ghurkha Rifle Regiment of the British Army and the family, including their first child Aelene, moved between India, Hong Kong, England and Malaysia.

On their return to England in 1954, the family settled in Rolvenden Kent and at the age of eleven, Joanna became a boarder at an Anglican School in St Leonards on Sea in East Sussex, where she enjoyed horse riding and ballet. Joanna was offered a placement at the Sadlers Wells School of Ballet but she declined in preference for her passion for horse riding.

Leaving school, at the age of sixteen with one ‘A’ level Joanna applied to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but she was not accepted. She, however, gained a placement at the Lucie Clayton School of Modelling.

During the 1960s, Joanna entered the world of modelling becoming a house model for designer Jean Muir and being photographed by the popular Patrick Litchfield. Joanna’s modelling proved successful and her popularity quickly enabled her to become a freelance model.

Joanna decided to try acting and made her first television appearance in an advert for bread. She went onto gain a small role in the James Bond film ‘On Her Majesty’s Service’ and appeared in a number of horror films and television series.

During the 1970s, Joanna appeared in eight series of the well known British soap opera ‘Coronation Street’ in the role of the girl friend of Ken Barlow, played by Bill Roache who continues in the programme to date. She also appeared in a number of television programmes playing straight and comedy roles

By the end of 1975, Joanna had established herself as a talented actress and starred with Patrick Macnee in the British agent fantasy series ‘The New Avengers’ followed by the role of Sapphire in the series ‘Sapphire and Steel,’ which ran from 1979 to 1982.

Joanna appeared in films such as The Pink Panther and on stage in ‘Hedda Gabler’ and  ‘Blithe Spirit.’ She became a well known figure on the BBC annual charity programme ‘Children in Need’ appearing in comedy sketches and making appeals in films taken during her visits to underdeveloped countries.  In 1992 Joanna joined comedian and actress Jennifer Saunders in the popular television series and film ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ where she demonstrated her talents as an actress playing the role of the aging drink and drug addicted PR agent, Patsy Stone.

Throughout her career Joanna continued modelling, read books on tape and was the voice on numerous commercials and the AOL computer programme. In 1989, she was awarded an OBE for her documentary series ‘Girl Friday’ where she spent nine days in isolation on an Island, she also won a BAFTA for the Best Comedy Performance in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’.

In 2008, Joanna played a leading role in a campaign to support Ghurkha veterans who served in the British Army and she is also known for her support of charities, animal rights and the Free Tibet Campaign.

Personal life

During the 1960s, Joanna had a two year relationship with photographer Michael Calydon and she gave birth to their son James in 1967. She went on to marry comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd in 1970, but the marriage ended in divorce after a year. In 1986, Joanna married conductor Stephen Barlow whom she met in the 1970s and the two currently live in London. 

Joanna Lumley is a versatile and talented actress whose rich voice, ability to not take herself too seriously and passion for helping others has made her a favourite personality amongst the British public. 

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