Joanna Lumley biography
Finding Your Feet
Date of Birth: May 1, 1946
Joanna Lumley was born in Kahmir, India and spent most of her childhood in the Far East due to her parents’ circumstances. Her father was Major James Rutherford Lumley, who was serving in the 6th Gurkha Rifles, and her mother was Thya Rose Weir, the daughter of a diplomat in Kashmir. Around the time of World War ll, her father brought his family back to Britain to settle down.
There, Joanna entered the entertainment industry as a model in London’s swinging ’60s, where she was photographed by greats such as Patrick Lichfield. She was designer Jean Muir’s muse and house model for several years until beginning work as a freelance model, and became one of the top 10 most-booked models in the ’60s. It was in 1967 when she gave birth to her only son James, whose father is photographer Michael Claydon. This information was not revealed for quite a while, as it was sociably unacceptable to be an unmarried mother during that time.
Joanna’s film career spans almost 50 years, with her breakthrough role as Purdey in The New Avengers, a role in which over 800 girls auditioned for. She was also the creator behind the Purdey bob -- one of the most “must-have” hairstyles of the ’70s, and became a pin-up figure for the British men who watched her movies. One of her most notable roles was as Sapphire from the series Sapphire & Steel, a sci-fi precursor to The X-Files (1993).
In theaters during the ’80s, she made appearances as Elvira in Blithe Spirit and the title role in Hedda Gabler. She was married to conductor Stephen Barlow in 1986, her second marriage after previously marrying comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd in 1970. Joanna continued to make appearances in several films, including Shirley Valentine, Trail of the Pink Panther, and Curse of the Pink Panther.
She then reinvented herself as a comic actress and gained international acclaim in the series Absolutely Fabulous. Her role as Patsy Stone earned Joanna many awards, including several BAFTAs. Later on, she teamed up with writer and director Hugo Blick for the acclaimed television monologue series Up in Town (2002). She returned to stage for the first time in over a decade in 2007’s production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.
Joanna is a notable activist, and is best known for her support towards the exiled Tibetan people and government, the Kondha indigenous people of India, the Prospect Burma charity, as well as for Gurkhas, who are soldiers from Nepal. In August 2015, Joanna backed “GivingTales,” a children’s fairy tales app made to aid UNICEF. In February 2013, she was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. She has been a supporter of many charities, including Kids for Kids, Born Free Foundation, ActionAid, and many more. Regarding politics, she is a supporter of the Green Party, and has been a vegetarian for over 40 years as well as a supporter of animal rights.
Joanna’s traveling has frequently been made into documentaries, with the BBC airing Joanna Lumley in the Land of the Northern Lights, and with herself as the executive producer and presenter of ITV’s Joanna Lumley’s Nile. She then traveled for ITV in 2011 for Joanna Lumley’s Greek Odyssey, and once again in 2012 in a search for Noah’s Ark. In 2015, she presented a factual series for ITV called Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure, travelling 6400 miles from Hong Kong to Moscow.
She has done plenty of work in the media, and from 2005 to 2006 she appeared in commercials for the insurance company Privilege. She appeared as a guest on the last run of ITV’s Parkinson on October 27, 2007, and discussed how young women in the UK must behave better if they hope to be successful. In 2005, she published her autobiography No Room for Secrets, which was serialized by The Times. Joanna has one of the most recognizable voices in the U.K., as she also recorded the greetings “Welcome to AOL,” “You have email,” and “Goodbye” for users of AOL in the U.K.
Joanna currently resides in London, but has a house near the village of Penpont in southern Scotland. She is also the grandmother to her son's two daughters, Alice and Emily. In 2016 she reclaimed her role as Patsy Stone in the big screen adaptation of her opular TV series in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016). Since then, she appeared alongside Imelda Staunton in Finding Your Feet (2018).