Friday 24 May 2019

Ab Fab inspiration Lynne Franks says OBE honour is for ‘every woman’

The PR guru was the inspiration behind the hit sitcom’s famous characters.

London SEED Expo. 2001Franks
London SEED Expo. 2001Franks

By Francesca Gosling

Lynne Franks, the PR guru who inspired Absolutely Fabulous, said she hopes receiving an OBE will shine a light on her work empowering women.

The 69-year-old, who lives in Wincanton in Somerset, said she was “very moved” to be named in the New Year Honours list, adding it was not a personal achievement but for “every woman”.

When she was 21 years old, Ms Franks set up her own PR agency which played a leading role in the creation of London Fashion Week and represented designers including Vivienne Westwood and Jasper Conran in the 70s and 80s.

Jennifer Saunders, who created Absolutely Fabulous, was also a client and is said to have used Ms Franks’ lifestyle as inspiration for character Edina Monsoon.

BAFTA Breakthrough Brits 2016

Saunders went on to play the role of Edina in the hugely popular BBC sitcom.

But Ms Franks said she hoped being included in the honours list was one occasion “when Ab Fab doesn’t come into it”.

She said: “I am the first to admit that there are some moments in my life still when I could look at it and say, ‘God, that was an Edina moment’.

“I get it, and I know Jennifer Saunders very well and I used to be her PR, so I take on board that there are things that happen that must have inspired her.”

She added: “I’m just hoping this creates an awareness of all the work I’ve done with women – it goes a lot further than just being a character in a TV programme… in a very funny TV programme.”

Ms Franks, who has been honoured for her services to business fashion and women’s empowerment, said the latter had been the focus of her work for the last 20 years.

She wrote The Seed Handbook, a guide for women setting up sustainable businesses, in 2000 which sparked a series of workshops taught in settings including women’s prisons and war zones.

More recently, she has worked with women in Greek refugee camps and continues to campaign for equality.

She said: “It’s not a perfect world for women and girls, not even near. But certainly in this country, things have moved on considerably and that’s the good news.”

Ms Franks said it had been a “thrill” to be recognised with an OBE for her work.

She said: “It’s much broader than a personal thing for me, it’s very much for every woman and I actually feel a bit tearful saying that.”

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