Absolutely Fabulous ! Happy Birthday Jennifer Saunders !

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MargOH Channing


“I DON’T WANT MORE CHOICE, I JUST WANT NICER THINGS”- Edina Monsoon

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I’ll never forget in the early 90’s when I auditioned for a role on the BBC show Absolutely Fabulous. I was living in Bangkok at the time running my 25 seat Cabaret, Bordello and Escort Service named “Big Trudie’s One Hit Wonder Cabaret and Pussy Palace. To my surprise Jennifer Saunders stumbled in to see Lulu perform “To Sir With Love”. She ordered a Stoli Boli with a chaser of Jack Daniels…
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At the time I didn’t know who Jennifer Saunders was but I heard her talking to Lulu about how I was a big strapping thing. I said excuse me and Jennifer said “Sweetie, darling can you act at all?” I replied, “Sweetie, yes, I’m MargOH! Channing, the world’s most decorated extra”, at the time I’d been in 725 films. “Oh, I’ve heard of you” Lulu added “Aren’t you the one who kicked Faye Dunaway down the stairs in Towering Inferno knocking her teeth out?” “Guilty”, I replied
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Jennifer then told me that I would be perfect for a role as Bo Turtle in her upcoming show called Ab Fab. A show created from a skit that was performed on the sketch comedy show “French and Saunders”. The role would be the wife of her characters ex husband Marshall; she also asked me how much I could drink. I asked her if that was a challenge and she said, “Line them up”. So for the next 2 hours Jennifer and I went shot for shot of Jack Daniels and other assorted bourbons with Lulu playing referee. We went toe to toe until Lulu sang “Shout” and it through Jennifer off her game. I won! Poor Jennifer’s head hit the table. Lulu had to carry her out but she gave me all of the information and told me to come to London the following week for an audition.
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As I walked through the hallways of the BBC it was like a French and Saunders shrine, their photos were everywhere. I started to get nervous and sweaty as I repeated the line “Hi ya people, it’s me Bo” over and over again. I entered the office and told the receptionist MargOH! Channing was here. “Who?” she replied as she picked up the phone “A Ms. Channing’s here but she’s not on the list”, she then sneered at me. The door opened a crack then I was told to take a seat next to Mo” she snapped.  I told the gal she was just a receptionist and to drop the attitude. I turned to sit next to this Mo and she put her bag on the seat. To make a long story short there was a scuffle, a few punches thrown and a tooth knocked out. I never got through my audition and this Mo gal got the job. I learned two things that day, one, never fight a girl named Mo and two don’t spit blood on the producer. “Karma is a bitch” is what Faye Dunaway said when she got wind of my missing tooth…
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Of course everyone knows that Absolutely Fabulous went on to be an international hit and this Mo turned out to be Mo Gaffney and was in the show for its entire run, damn her! Not that I didn’t get some work out of it eventually. I have played Town Lady # 6 in Jennifer Saunders other show “Clatterford” and also Bitch Fan # 6 in her Vivienne Vyle series. I think Jennifer always felt bad about Mo being such a brut and for the fact she didn’t even remember offering me an audition.
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I tend to forgive these types of situations and one has to have respect for Jennifer Saunders. She is for certain one of the best satirical and situation comedy writers of all time. The characters she creates especially those on Ab Fab Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone are timeless ones that still make me roar after almost twenty years.  Her ability to dissect and interpret pop culture and family dynamics is unmatched.
When you create characters that are drag queen can run with you know you have created a camp classic.
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Over the years there have been several attempts to bring Ab fab to American television but all have failed. They did get close in 2009 with Jennifer Saunders as executive producer with Kathryn Hahn as Eddy and Kirstin Johnston as Patsy but Fox did not pick up the pilot.
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I do from time to time give Jennifer a call and say “Are you writing another Ab fab series?” and she always says “It’s on the burner, darling”. The great thing about the show is that it can be written for contemporary audiences. I’m sure Eddy could be representing Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears. Patsy could now be the Editor of Wine Spectator or own a share in Odd Bins, a UK liquor store chain. Once in a while I come up with a storyline for Jennifer; the last one was having Patsy and Edina trying to revive their singing careers while simultaneously trying to break her granddaughter Jane into modeling. Of course I always write a little part for MargOH! and all I get is “It’s on  the burner MargOH!”.
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This got me thinking; let’s start a Facebook campaign letting Jennifer know we want more Ab Fab. July 6 is her birthday so why not start it today; we’ll call it “Sweetie darling, more Ab Fab now”.
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That would be Absolutely Fabulous!
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Happy Birthday Jennifer!!
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