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Kent’s Joanna Lumley in ‘paradise’ after winning Bafta Fellowship award

PUBLISHED: 12:03 15 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:03 15 May 2017

Joanna Lumley with the Fellow Award. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

Joanna Lumley with the Fellow Award. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

PA Wire

The actress grew up in the county and attended Mickledene School in Rolvenden, near Ashford, as a boarder

Joanna Lumley says she is in “paradise” after winning the Bafta Fellowship award.

The actress, who grew up in Kent and attended Mickledene School in Rolvenden, near Ashford, as a boarder, gave what many described as the best speech of the night at Sunday’s glitzy London ceremony.

The gong was presented to Lumley, who was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Kent in July 1994, by her Absolutely Fabulous co-star Jennifer Saunders.

“In 1990 I handed her some scrappy lines and unformed ideas and she alone created Patsy Stone, a creation that has at least kept me laughing for 27 years,” she said.

“She’s a comic genius and a brilliant clown who never forgets how hard it’s been to get where she is.”

Coming on stage to a standing ovation, Lumley, who admitted she “ripped the envelope open with my teeth”, said: “I’m unbelievably honoured, you don’t even dream of it, you don’t even think of it, then the letter comes and you don’t believe it.

“I’m like a piece of cellophane laid over the industry.

“We are lit and furnished with words and costumed and made up, we have stunt performers to make us look better, we have people who feed us and dress us and we arrive and people say ‘you were so funny in that’ and you say ‘yes, thanks’.

“It’s all somebody else.

“This for me is paradise, I am in the company that I wished to keep ever since I was young

“I wanted to be with the people who left race and religion and gender and shoe size outside the door.

“I wanted to be with those people, I wanted to hang out with the boys in the band, I wanted to be part of the sisterhood, I wanted to be in this real circus.”

Addressing Saunders, she added: “All I really want to say is ‘Jennifer you write it, I just do it’.”

Adopting Patsy’s famous drawl, she concluded with: “I just want to say actually to you all, thanks sweeties, thanks a lot.”

The Bafta Fellowship is a lifetime achievement award and has previously been won by the likes of Helen Mirren, Bruce Forsyth, David Frost and Saunders herself.

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