There’s several bits of telly that were on over Christmas that we have to talk about over the coming week, simply because of how brilliant they were. First of which was this show on BBC Two, all of two weeks ago.
It’s now 25 years since Jennifer Saunders’ wonderful sitcom creation Absolutely Fabulous first aired in 1992, bringing us the hedonisitic, louche misadventures in the Bolly soaked fashion PR world of Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone.
To mark this occasion, Jennifer and her sitcom partner Joanna Lumley, took off to France – just outside of Paris, to be exact – for this factual but funny look at the history of the drink Edina and Patsy have forever been associated with – champagne.
Interspersed with classic Ab Fab clips, in typically fabulous style, Jennifer and Joanna visited many of the major Champagne houses in the region – Moet, Dom Perignon – and even took part in one of the regular summer harvests of the vineyards with local workers, which ended in a champagne breakfast and a sing along to a French song about birds in a field.
But the true highlights of their trip – a sort of halfway house between Joanna Lumley’s own brilliant travel documentaries and Jennifer’s wry and witty observations – came in the second half of the show. First of which, was a pilgrimage to the champagne house that Ab Fab rechristened as ‘Bolly, darling’ all those years ago.
Given a private tour of the house of Bollinger – including the cellars, which house vintage bottles going back two centuries that fetch a hefty price tag or two (a 1914 bottle sold at Sotheby’s last year for £400k), the president of Bollinger takes them into the private tasting room for – not a bottle – a vintage Magnum of Bollinger from 1992, the year Ab Fab first aired on TV. It’s at this point that Jennifer states her life’s work has been achieved.
As they round off their trip in an exclusive chateau – a nod to the infamous episode of Ab Fab where Edina and Patsy go to France, and wind up at a draughty old cottage instead of the chateau spa they were meant to be at up the road due to their inability to read maps – things have truly come full circle.
You finish watching this longing for a friendship, or even an adventure with a friend, like Jo and Jen’s. It truly is a taste of an absolutely fabulous life together as friends and actors. Cheers to that, sweetie.
Joanna & Jennifer: Absolutely Champers is available for UK viewers to watch now on BBC iPlayer.