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Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
BBC revives classic sitcoms
Absolutely Fabulous
Edina and Patsy: Set to return to screens in late autumn
The BBC finished production of the new series of Absolutely Fabulous at the weekend, amid moves to strengthen its sitcom output.

The BBC annual report noted "how difficult it can be to get sitcom right" and mentioned the "disappointing" debut of the Pauline Quirk vehicle Office Gossip.

In another move, the BBC is about to put Auf Wiedersehen, Pet back into production. It was originally seen on ITV.

The new series of Ab Fab will be shown this autumn - and fans of the hit show will find that the world has moved on.

Edina, played by Jennifer Saunders has moved from PR to television production, while Joanna Lunmley's character Patsy has become managing editor of her glossy magazine.

Edina's long-suffering daughter Saffy, played by Julia Sawalha, has become involved with New Labour, and June Whitfield's mother character has taken up salsa dancing and email shopping.

Celebrities

Celebrity guests in the new series include socialite Lady Victoria Hervey, EastEnder Michael Grecco, Boyzone's Stephen Gately, Twiggy, supermodel Erin O'Connor, Sacha Distel, Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenberg.

Gimme Gimme Gimme, starring Kathy Burke and James Dreyfus will also return to BBC screens, as will Coupling and the Paul Whitehouse comedy drama Happiness.

Unknowns

Kevin Whately
Kevin Whately - an unknown before Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

For the new series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, BBC Director of Drama and Entertainment Alan Yentob signed up the remaining members of the original cast, and writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais.

The comedy was first shown in November 1983 and had its last new series in 1986.

Its cast - then largely unknown - included Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall, Kevin Whately and Tim Healy as British labourers working on a German building site.

By contrast, writers Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais were already known for creating classic series like The Likely Lads and Porridge.

During the filming of the final programmes actor Gary Holton died and the series had to be completed without him.

It is believed that the new series will not take place in Germany.

See also:

06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Absolutely Fabulous returns
08 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Quiz June Whitfield: Her replies
07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Hello again to Auf Wiedersehen Pet
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