WCW: Joanna Lumley


I’ll be honest, when I had the initial idea to do a Woman Crush Wednesday featuring Joanna Lumley, I really thought it would be a pretty short list of historical films. Imagine my surprise when I pulled up her IMDB page and found over a dozen historical flicks to her name! We love Lumley here at Frock Flicks … Patsy Stone is pretty much our spiritual guide in all matters (tits out, drink up, be fabulous), so pour yourself a Boli Stoli and bottoms up, sweetie darlings!


Lady Chatterly Versus Fanny Hill (1971)

Also known under its UK title, Games That Lovers Play. It sounds pretty terrible.

However, the 1970s-does-1920s-does-18th-century drag scene does make me curious.


The Weather in the Streets (1983)

“Passion comes calling when a man suffering through an unhappy marriage in 1920s England runs into first love.” Thanks IMDB, for really convincing me I need to watch this. 🙄


Mistral’s Daughter (1984)

I had a hell of a time figuring out if this was set in the 1980s or 1920s just looking at the handful of clips of the film online. But at least Joanna Lumley looks reasonably 1920s in her costumes.


A Ghost in Monte Carlo (1990)

Despite the fact that this one photo of Joanna Lumley looks really dated, the costumes in general look pretty good.


A Perfect Hero (1991)

Joanna Lumley plays Loretta Stone, an actress who is “able to see beyond the scars” left behind after WWII RAF pilot Hugh Fleming returns home scarred physically and emotionally.


Cold Comfort Farm (1995)

Joanna Lumley plays Mrs. Mary Smiling, Flora Poste’s worldly and sophisticated mentor who is skeptical about Flora’s intent to move in with her country relations and write the great British novel.


Innocent Lies (1995)

A loose adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel Towards Zero. Joanna Lumley is somehow involved, but I can’t really make out how from just the synopses on IMDB and Wikipedia.


Prince Valiant (1997)

Ok, it’s cheesy historical fantasy, but if we reviewed Camelot, we can throw in Joanna’s Morgan la Fey in here, too.


The Tale of Sweeney Todd (1997)

I am pretty sure I’ve seen this version of the classic cannibalistic tale, but I have very little memory of it.


Coming Home (1998)

When I read the synopsis of this on IMDB, I was ready to dismiss it as another pre-WWII-poshy-people-live-in-the-country-and-sleep-with-one-another British shows, but upon further research it actually looks fairly interesting. I’ll be looking it up for sure.


A Rather English Marriage (1998)

Joanna Lumley plays the romantic interest of two aging (and wealthy) bachelors.


Nancherrow (1999)

The sequel to Coming Home, basically what happens AFTER World War II.


The Cat’s Meow (2001)

This film was so underrated, but really, go watch it. The costumes are amazing, and Joanna Lumley as a redhead in all that Egyptian assuit … *bites fist*


Marple (2004 & 2010)

She appears as Dolly Bantry in two episodes of the popular, long running Agatha Christie miniseries.


Comic Relief: “Uptown Downstairs Abbey” (2011)

Ok, so it’s for Comic Relief, and not a real show, but I would so watch a series taking the piss out of Downton Abbey if it starred Joanna Lumley.


The Making of a Lady (2012)

Based on the novel The Making of a Marchioness, Joanna Lumley plays Lady Maria Byrne and the costumes, quite frankly, look stunning. Definitely going to have to put this on my watch list.


The Corridor (2016)

This is listed as a “film installation” on IMDB, which leads me to believe it was only screened in an art gallery context. But I’ll watch Joanna Lumley in pretty much anything, so sign me up!


What’s your favorite of Joanna Lumley’s historical costume film or TV roles? Share it with us in the comments!


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

23 Responses

  1. Jillian

    I saw A Ghost in Monte Carlo. Wasn’t bad, similar style/vein to A Hazard of Hearts, even had the same romantic lead.

  2. NuitsdeYoung

    On stage, she played Eleanor in ‘The Lion in Winter’.

  3. LadySlippers

    I’ve never heard of her nor have I watched any of the productions she’s been in.

    And when I read your synopsis of her — my first thought was — this is who Karen from Will & Grace sounds like. Lol.

    • Colleen

      I’ve only seen her (historically-wise) in the Marple series. Joanna is a great actress.

    • MrsC (Maryanne)

      Karen is a bit of an homage to Patsy Stone, the character in Absolutely Fabulous that Lumley basically created from a full ashtray, some Columbian Marching Powder and a YSL mini skirt.

  4. Maggie

    Coming home is wonderful! It also has a young Kira Knightly in it.

    Yes, its sort of soap operay in some parts but its more coming of age, self realization than posh people romance.

  5. hsc

    “Lady Chatterly Versus Fanny Hill (1971)

    Also known under its UK title, Games That Lovers Play. It sounds pretty terrible.”

    Well, they can’t all be “Bond Meets Black Emmanuelle,” “Boldfinger,” or “The Man with the Thunder Balls.”

    Along with Joanna Lumley’s appearance as an actual Bond girl in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) and as a “quasi-Bond girl” in the Bond knock-off “Some Girls Do” (also 1969), this was the source of Patsy Stone’s claim to be a “Bond girl”…

    …which eventually got deflated by the revelation that she was just in porn parodies of the James Bond series.

  6. Birdie

    I love her but never ever under any circumstances watch Sapphire & Steel!

    • Roxana.

      Too late! That’s how I made Ms. Lumley’s professional acquaintance. And what’s wrong with Sapphire and Steel? Lumley looks gorgeous in blue and David McCallum is adorable and the scripts are total nightmare fuel… Okay some might find that last a problem.

      • Mab

        Sapphire and Steel is indeed brilliant. The 2nd episode especially so

    • Trystan L. Bass

      LOL, I totally dug Sapphire & Steel — but I was a teenager & would watch anything British & either scifi or historical ;)

      • Roxana.

        I watched an episode with my father. At the end he turned to me in confusion and said, “That makes no sense.” “Yeah,” I replied, “isn’t it great?” 😆

  7. Susan Pola Staples

    Cold Comfort Farm, Cat’s Meow and her Dolly Bantry are my favs.

    • Cat

      id watch Joanna change a lightbulb but absolutely her Dolly Bantry and Mrs Smiling in Cold Comfort Farm! Makes my happy just thinking about her !!!

  8. Roxana.

    Love, love, love Joanna Lumley. I know her as Sapphire in Sapphire and Steel, and Purdy in The New Avengers. Also the first Female Doctor in a Doctor Who based Comic Relief (gear casting choice)!
    I have read Burnett’s Making of a Marchioness and Oh My God Lumley would be a fantastic Lady Maria!

  9. Jen

    Cold Comfort Farm is one of my favourites. Great cast, beautiful costumes, and Rufus Sewell smoldering away swoon

  10. Lily Lotus Rose

    Patsy Stone is my spirit animal (of one tiny sliver of my personality). I haven’t seen any of her historical roles. She looks stone cold blooded in the pic from A Rather English Marriage. That, plus Albert Finney, makes me want to see it. I love the costumes in the pictures from Comic Relief: Uptown Downstairs Abbey; Marple; and Innocent Lies.

    Someone mentioned Patsy Stone inspiring Karen in Wil & Grace. I see it. But, I always felt like AbFab’s American cousin was Cybill, which I also really liked. Christine Baranski was awesome in the “Patsy” role. But, I think she’s awesome in everything. Michael York usually makes me swoon, but the way he looks in the picture from The Weather in the Streets just gives me the creeps.

    Back to Joanna Lumley, she’s a great WCW choice! Now I need to get an AbFab fix before bed, sweetie darling.

  11. Gwyneth

    I recommend a hard pass on “Making of a Lady”. It’s really badly done, and doesn’t do justice to the books, which are a great read. (and free at Project Gutenberg online!) Haven’t been so annoyed at an adaptation since Julian Fellowes tried his hand at the “Green Knowe” books.

    • Roxana.

      Very sorry to hear that. But on reflection I find it very easy to believe scriptwriters would totally trash story and characters.

    • Melanie

      Same. I haven’t read the book, but I watched the movie (mostly because of Linus Roache) The first half is a mildly interesting marriage-of-convenience-romance, but the 2nd half is unbelievably terrible.

  12. Liz Healas

    Don’t forget Joanna as the Yearning-For-Upstairs Mrs. Danvers in “Uptown Downstairs Abbey”.