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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
BBC's autumn stars speak out
Absolutely Fabulous
More bad behaviour from Edina and Patsy is on the way
Absolutely Fabulous makes its long-awaited return this autumn with all its favourite characters, including June Whitfield as Edina's dotty old mum.

Whitfield says she is "delighted" to be back in the comedy series that is fondly known as Ab Fab, alongside Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley and Julia Sawalha.

After the last series five years ago, Saunders - who also writes the show - said there would be no more.

But, explains Whitfield, Saunders found that Edina and Patsy would not to banished to the TV archives that easily.

June Whitfield
Whitfield: Just as "daft" as before

"Jennifer wrote the one-off comedy Mirrorball thinking it might go to a series. But she found that Patsy and Edina kept getting in the way. So, she just had to write another series of Ab Fab," says Whitfield.

New to the show will be characters such as vacuous TV presenter Katy Grin, played by Jane Horrocks. Horrocks also resumes the role of air-headed PA Bubble.

But fans of the show will be pleased that the new series remains true to the comedic essence of the original.

Jennifer never imagined the series would be the universal success it has turned to be

June Whitfield

"It is just as glossy with outrageous costumes and loads of fun," says Whitfield. "Eddy is always on a diet or trying the latest fad, aided and abetted by Patsy.

"Saffy is trying to leave home and mother is just as daft and doing stupid things for no particular reason."

Whitfield says that making the show is "the biggest laugh". Whether or not it runs and runs, is down to whether viewers think so too.

"Jennifer never imagined the series would be the universal success it has turned out to be," says Whitfield. "Now, I suppose it l depends on the reaction to this latest series whether or not there are any more."

Paul McGann returns to BBC TV this autumn in a the new two-part thriller Sweet Revenge.

McGann plays a well-liked university professor who runs a bizarre sideline service in "tailor-made" revenge.

Paul McGann in Doctor Who
Paul McGann gave his Doctor Who more mystery

McGann, who has had a varied career in dramas such as Nature Boy and Fish, says he is "in his element" playing characters of dubious integrity.

"They are the best to play and the ones most liked by audiences. You don't have to worry about being moral. It's a big release," he explains.

McGann says he also enjoyed the part because it reminded him of previous meaty roles - including Doctor Who.

There was a whole new side to Doctor Who that I was keen to explore

Paul McGann

McGann starred as the Doctor in a film version of the cult series in 1996.

"There was another darker side to the Doctor that I brought in," says McGann. "He was moody, melancholy - like a vampire."

There was speculation that the film would run into a new series, with McGann in the lead. When it did not, McGann admits to being disappointed.

"It was a shame. There was a whole new side to Doctor Who that I was keen to explore."

Back for a second series is comedy drama series Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) in which Emilia Fox stars alongside comedy duo Reeves and Mortimer.

The series is a reworking of the original 60s series of the same name

Reeves and Mortimer play sleuths Marty Hopkirk - the ghost - and Jeff Randall. And Fox plays Jeannie - Jeff's crime-solving partner.

Randall and Hopkirk
Fox was more prepared for Reeves and Mortimer's spontaneous ways

Fox, daughter of respected British actors Edward Fox and Joanna David, says fans of the show can expect a few changes.

"My character is a lot more involved this series and less serious - I get to play Jeannie possessed by a nymphomaniacal ghost," Fox states.

This series Fox says she came prepared for the unusual working style of the madcap Reeves and Mortimer.

"It's not the normal filming process because they are so spontaneous. They are always bouncing off each other. But this time I knew that and felt more part of it," she says.

There is also a whole new generation to think of who can enjoy a fresh Randall and Hopkirk and for the first time

Emilia Fox

Fox says she has never had a run-in with a ghost in real-life. If she did, she says, she would "ask it lots of questions".

But she does confess to being hugely superstitious, particularly when appearing in a play when she is continuously "touching wood".

As for the success of this second series, Fox says she is making no predictions. After all, she concludes, some people may have considered the first a mistake.

"There are always going to be those people who loved the original series and who won't be happy about any sort of remake.

"But there is also a whole new generation to think of who can enjoy a fresh Randall and Hopkirk and for the first time."

Emilia Fox
"My character is a lot more involved in this series"
See also:

27 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Randall, Hopkirk and Higson
14 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
BBC unveils autumn line-up
13 Jul 01 | New Media
Fans applaud Doctor's return
06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Absolutely Fabulous returns
08 Dec 98 | Entertainment
An Absolutely Fabulous award
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