Joanna Lumley: me time

Round & About

Foo Fighters

Actress, activist and mum Joanna Lumley, 72, talks tigers, tickets and taking life in her stride as she embarks upon her solo UK tour It’s All About Me.

Q. Tickets for your 31-date UK tour sold out amazingly quickly; how does that feel?
“It’s utterly thrilling that on the first day the show was selling out across the country. At first, I thought I was scared about this tour. When it was announced, my first concern was that I’d have to pay people to come. I thought: ‘we’ll have to close the dress circle and pay people to sit in the stalls.’ But now I’m so excited. The great thing about performing live is the audience.”

Q. You have homes in London and the Thames Valley; what kind of reaction do you get out and about?
“I travel on the Tube, and people are constantly talking to me as if I’m their friend. They’ll say ‘what we really liked about India was this…’ People love the travel shows and often come up and tell me they love that I don’t talk down to the people I meet. I don’t find food revolting or customs silly just because they’re from other countries. Chatting is pretty much what I do – I’m forever doing this at charity dos.”

Q. You’re a national treasure, thanks to your work on the Gurkha Justice Campaign and all the TV and film work; what’s the key to cramming so much in?
“When I look back on all the things I’ve done, it’s a gasp-making list! You realise if you say ‘yes’ to jobs, you do jobs. If you’re picky, you do more great work, but needs must when the devil drives! The ability to send yourself up helps you survive. If you don’t have that, you can get gloomy.”

Q. You beat 800 other actresses to the role of kickboxing Purdey in The Avengers; was that your big break, would you say?
“There had been no Avengers series for ten years – our version just caught people’s imagination. Maybe it was time for that kind of adventure story again. But it was also ludicrous! In one episode, a rat ate some nuclear waste and became the size of  a double-decker bus.”

Q. Did you know Ab Fab, would be such a huge success to this day?
“I didn’t know Jennifer [Saunders} at the time, but when her script was sent to me, it was the funniest thing I’d ever read. I had no doubts about it.”

Q. What do you want to give people on this UK tour?
“I want audiences to feel happy and go home feeling that life is great, getting old is great and you can still have a go at anything!”

For all the dates of Joanna’s tour and tickets, visit

Eyes on the tiger

Round & About

Foo Fighters

Liz Nicholls chats to Simon Clinton, founder of Save Wild Tigers, about the plight of this critically endangered big cat and events this month supported by our brightest stars…

As if stepping up to dance, two 11-month-old tiger cubs begin play-fighting in India’s Ranthambhore National Park. This stunning photo (above), taken by Andy Rouse in 2015, captures the poetic, almost impossible beauty of these creatures. However, the sad truth is fewer than 3,800 tigers exist in the wild today as poaching and habitat loss push them to the brink of extinction.

“It’s about more than just tigers, as much as I love them,” Simon Clinton tells me. “I’m quoting David Attenborough because he said it best: it’s a moral           question about whether we humans have the right to exterminate a species, leave a world that’s more impoverished than the one we inherited, simply because of our own carelessness and greed as a species.”

Simon has done more than just wax lyrical about the plight of wild tigers, whose numbers have fallen by 97%. He grew up in Malaysia, which is home to the oldest rainforest in the world, and first encountered tigers as a child in the early 1970s.

Ten years ago, Simon was working in marketing and advertising, producing TV ads for brands such as The Happy Egg Co. Having always been passionate about conservation, he was asked to help market and launch Europe’s first ever tiger art exhibition, at London’s Asia House. “Only then did the irony hit me that this stunning tiger-inspired art exhibition, with some of the pieces dating back thousands of years, could soon be the only way in which we see tigers,” he says. “Art and pictures… could this really be the legacy we leave our future generations if we do not act quickly? What chance have we got of saving the countless other species that will inevitably follow in the tiger’s tracks towards extinction; the elephants, the rhinos, the lions? The list goes on. If we can’t win this battle, the consequences are too unbearable to imagine.”

Indeed, he has acted quickly from that point. Save Wild Tigers, which is a non-profit organisation, has forged links with NGO partners, the Environmental Investigation Agency and Born Free Foundation to help combat the murky and dangerous £20bn illegal wildlife trade in products such as tiger bone, wine and fur, as well as raising funds and awareness about the importance of sustainable palm oil whose production also threatens the future of the orangutan and rhinos. Simon has also won the hearts of stars including Jaime Winstone (pictured above with a Swarovski tiger as featured in Vogue) who is an ambassador of Save Wild Tigers along with shoe designer Jimmy Choo. Other star supporters of the cause include Stephen Fry and also Joanna Lumley and Brian May who took part in the world’s largest tiger event, Tiger Tracks, at St Pancras International in 2013.

“Globally, the symbolism and imagery of the tiger has long been used for marketing and resulting commercial gain across numerous brands such as petrol, fashion, beer, the list is endless,” adds Simon. “Now it is time to bring the power of marketing and creativity to inspire all to help save this magnificent species from extinction. The tiger is more than just the charismatic animal we see on TV. It is a keystone species that represents the very heart and soul of the jungle.”

Until Sunday, 14th October, you can head to the Royal Albert Hall for Eye On The Tiger, the world’s largest wild tiger photography exhibition. International photographers from the USA, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden, Australia, Russia, Japan, Germany and India, including Steve Winter, Theo Allofs, Thorsten Milse,  Toshiji Fukuda, Nick Garbutt, Anish Andheria, Robin Hamilton and Roger Hooper have all generously donated their time and photographic rights to exhibit these beautiful photos.

They are on display in the Amphi Corridor, and can be viewed when attending a performance or on free open days on Friday, 5th, Sunday 7th, Friday 12th and Saturday 13th October, 10am-4pm.

Then, on Saturday, 27th October, Danesfield House Hotel near Marlow will host a star-studded black-tie champagne reception and dinner created by executive head chef Billy Reid and Masterchef winner Ping Coombes (tickets, £170 per person, are selling out very soon).

Head to to find out more

Rick Astley: Rick & Roll

Liz Nicholls

Foo Fighters

Liz Nicholls chats to singer-songwriter and dad Rick Astley, 52, about making his new album and having the best of both worlds

Q: Nice to speak to you. How’s your summer been?
“Fantastic thanks. Lots of touring and pottering in the sun too. We live a stone’s throw from Hampton Court Palace and the other night I was having a glass of rosé in the garden listening to Lionel Richie thinking ‘how wonderful’. I have a little boat – and it really is very little – which I take a couple of mates in to drift off down to the pub – my local is The Albany. There’s something about the river – in the mornings I’ll have a coffee looking at it and if you go off on a boat for even an hour, you feel like you’ve had a day out. It’s a great pace of life.”

Q. How did your new album come about?“
My wife was in America for a couple of weeks and, like any man left alone, I went to my ‘man cave’! Which is a studio at the end of my garden. Before long I’d made some tunes I really liked and thought ‘maybe I’m halfway through another record’. That’s how the last album [2016’s best-selling 50] happened. That one came after a big break from music and I got so much goodwill and love. I don’t kid myself that people are sat there with bated breath waiting for my next album to come out. But we’re on a bit of a roll at the moment.”

Q. Speaking of rolls, what about the ‘rickrolling’ phenomenon?
“It’s freaky and amazing. Years ago when it started, a friend of mine rickrolled me a few of times and I kept saying ‘yeah very funny, whatever’. I didn’t understand the concept, still don’t really! It keeps going and going – and it’s because of that I ended up invited on stage by the Foo Fighters last summer. I‘m a bit obsessed with the show Westworld and was stunned when the lead actress launched into Never Gonna Give You Up. Bring it on!”

Q. Do you love playing live?
“Yes; performing in front of human beings is the most exciting bit. Whether it’s your wife or friend – once you play a song and get a good reaction from someone, that’s amazing. Magnify that by playing in front of hundreds, if not thousands of people, and I do think it’s like a drug. It messes with the chemicals in your body and is a weird feeling – weird in a great way. It’s not like the real world.”

Q. Which other musicians do you love live?
“I’ve seen Adele in front of 500 and 80,000 people and she makes such a connection that it’s like being in her living room with her. I was going to say that’s her skill but it’s natural. I saw Gary Barlow the other day – again at Hampton Court Palace. I know Gary and said hi. When you look at his solo and band career he’s got a helluva set list – he’s worked for that and really works for his audience. Having read his book, I know he’s been through some s****y times and I think that always makes you appreciate what you’ve got more, and give more.”

Beautiful Life is out now and Rick Astley will perform at London’s Eventim Apollo on Thursday 8th & Friday, 9th November.