Joanna Lumley was born in Kashmir in 1946 and came to England as a young girl to complete her schooling at St Mary’s School in Sussex.
She spent three years as a photographic model finally becoming a house model for the late Jane Muir. Her early films included ‘Some Girls Do’ (1968), ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969), two Pink Panther films ‘The Trail Of The Pink Panther’ and ‘The Curse of the Pink Panther’ (both in 1982), The Satanic Rights of Dracula’ (1973) and ‘Shirley Valentine’ (1988). Most recent films include ‘James and the Giant Peach’, Innocent Lies’, ’Funny Bones’ (1996), ‘Sweeney Todd’ (1997), ‘Prince Valiant’ (1996), ‘Parting Shots’ (1997) ‘Whispers’ (1998), ‘Mad Cows’ (1998) and ‘Maybe Baby’ (1999)
Early television work includes Steptoe & Son, The Persuaders, General Hospital and Coronation Street. She played ‘Purdey’ in 24 episodes of ‘The New Avengers’ and recorded 39 episodes of ‘Sapphire & Steel’ both programmes being constantly transmitted around the world. Her experiences of living alone on a desert island were filmed for a BBC Special ‘Girl Friday’.
Joanna is probably best known on television for her hugely popular role as ‘Patsy’ in the award winning series ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ for the BBC. Other recent television includes ‘Class Act’ for Carlton, ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Nancherrow’ for Portman.
In 1996 she travelled to Bhutan to film a journey made by her grandparents ‘In The Kingdom Of the Thunder Dragon’, ‘A Rather English Marriage’ (nominated for a BAFTA as Best Actress) and most recently ‘Dr Willoughby’ for Pearson
Joanna’s most recent theatre appearance was six weeks at the Lyric, Hammersmith in ‘The Letter’ directed by Neil Bartlett. Other theatre engagements include ‘Private Lives’, ‘Noel & Gertie’ at the Kings Head, ‘Hedda Garbla’ at the Dundee Rep, ‘Blithe Spirit’ at the Vaudeville, ‘An Ideal Husband’ at the Chichester Festival, ‘The Cherry Orchard’ again at Dundee, ‘Vanilla’ at the Lyric, West End, ‘Revengers Comedies’ at the Strand and ‘Who Will I Be Tomorrow at Greenwich.
Other work has included: The Curse of Fatal Death — a special 1999 Comic Relief episode of Doctor Who — where she was a female version of the Doctor, a film about a journey made by her grandparents in Bhutan - In the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon (1996) - and A Rather English Marriage (nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actress 1999) and Dr Willoughby. In 1995 she provided the voice of Annie the rag doll in the animated series The Forgotten Toys. In 2000 she co-produced a new drama series entitled The Cazalets. She has also appeared in a TV series on Sarawak, where she spent time as a girl.
Lumley stars as the elderly Delilah Stagg in the 2006 sitcom; Jam & Jerusalem alongside Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Sue Johnston. In July 2007 the second series of the drama Sensitive Skin aired on BBC. Lumley plays the main character Davina Jackson. She also appeared as a guest host on Channel 4's The Friday Night Project, in August 2007.
Lumley has gained prominence as a voice over actress and is one of the most recognised voices in the United Kingdom. Users of AOL in the United Kingdom are familiar with Joanna Lumley's voice. She recorded the greeting "Welcome to AOL" for that company. It is, therefore, the first thing that a UK AOL user hear when logging on.
Joanna was awarded an OBE in the 1995 New Years honours. She is married to the conductor Stephen Barlow and lives in London.