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Friday 18 August 2017

Joanna Lumley: I want to donate all my organs - or at least the 'nice' ones

The actor hopes her leftovers will feed the foxes…

By Francesca Gosling

Actress Joanna Lumley has told how she hopes to donate all of her organs, or at least whichever “nice” ones are left, after her death.

A week after celebrating her 71st birthday, she joked that a steady intake of champagne throughout her 50-year acting career may have affected the quality of some internal body parts.

The Absolutely Fabulous star admitted that she thinks about death “every day” and has learned that the most important lesson is “to make sure you don’t waste life”.

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The Prince of Wales meets Joanna Lumley at the Evening Standard Progress 1000, celebrating London's most influential people of 2016, at the Science Museum, London.

Asked if she would like to be cremated or buried, she told the Radio Times: “I’ve got one of those donor forms that says ‘Take anything you want,’ so I’m not sure what they do with you.

“I hope they bundle you out to feed you to the foxes – after they’ve plundered all the nice bits you’ve got left, if there are any nice bits after I’ve drained so much champagne.”

Her comments came as she was announced winner of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) prestigious Fellowship prize, previously claimed by the likes of Sidney Poitier, Julie Walters and Vanessa Redgrave.

It celebrates her long and impressive resume on screen and on stage, including her 24-year run as champagne-swilling Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous.

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Joanna Lumley (left) and Jennifer Saunders attend the showcase gala for BBC Worldwide in at the ACC Liverpool.

Remembering her time working alongside Jennifer Saunders on the sitcom, she said: “We used to cry with laughter and it was just paradise.

“I absolutely adored playing Patsy. It was like being given a glass of champagne quite out of the blue and you go ‘Oh, my heavens!’.”

Her star-spangled career also saw the former model famously take on roles in The New Avengers, Agatha Christie’s Marple, Coronation Street and even a stint as an Angel Of Death in James Bond.

But weighing in on the debate over who should continue the 007 legacy, she said she did not believe Luther star Idris Elba quite fitted the bill.

“Idris Elba is stunning,” she said, “but I don’t think is right for Bond, who is quite clearly described in the book.

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“I’m colour-blind when it comes to acting, but Idris Elba is just a zonking great star anyway.”

Joanna told how rising to fame as a woman in the early years of her career was not an easy task and compared the challenge to being a female prime minister.

“When we had Mrs Thatcher, everyone gasped and said, ‘Oh my goodness, a woman! A woman can’t do things!’ And all of us women just sat there and said ‘Yes’.”

“I was the fourth Avenger girl and you were always being compared to somebody else.

“You just have to brave it out, and I guess prime ministers are just the same.”

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Well-versed in taking things under her own wing, she also told how she prefers to cut and dye her own hair with supermarket products rather than have it done professionally.

Jennifer Saunders added of her long-time friend and colleague: “A lot of people don’t see how clever she is and because she is so well-mannered, she won’t be too clever with some people.

“But she’s got such a brain and I’ve seen her go on some fairly hefty, well-judged rants.”

:: Read the full article in this week’s Radio Times.

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