For the second time tonight I watched the ‘Christmas’ special of Absolutely Fabulous. The word ‘Christmas’ is placed firmly in inverted commas here because, despite being shown for the first time on Christmas day, this episode is not remotely Christmassy. What it is is sublime. Seeing Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley parading about on screen as Eddie and Patsy, it’s difficult to fathom that it has been six years since they last played these characters. All the old favourites are back too: Bubble (Jane Horrocks) is on delightfully stupid form, Saffy (Julia Sawalha) is uptight as ever, and security systems have been installed to prevent Eddie’s mother (June Whitfield) from selling everything she owns.
So if there is no mention of Christmas, what is this episode about? It revolves around Saffy’s release from prison (yes, Saffy!), where she has rather unfortunately found a friend in Patsy’s ex-drug dealer, Baron (Lucy Montgomery). But, as always, the main plot is only half of the story, and the episode is filled with the sharp humour and relentless popular culture references which we’ve come to expect from Absolutely Fabulous. Saffy returning from a two-year stint behind bars provides the perfect opportunity for the characters to outline the highlights of 2011, including a hilarious reenactment of the Royal Wedding from Bubble and comments on the Kardashians (“They’re multiplying like head lice!” “Look at this fat one at the end, very soon she will split like an amoeba and become two Kardashians.”) and the London riots (“There’s nothing wrong with a bit of extreme shopping!”) by Eddie and Patsy. There is also a cameo by Sofie Grabol, star of Eddie’s new favourite show The Killing.
This is the first of three new episodes set to air this year for the 20th anniversary of Absolutely Fabulous‘s creation, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in the next two installments. I have been deprived of this show for far too long!
“Identity” can be viewed on BBC iPlayer until Sunday 8th January. The second 20th anniversary special, “Job”, will air on Sunday 1st January at 9:40PM on BBC One.