A few years ago it was claimed that Lynn Franks, a PR guru in the 70s, was the inspiration behind Edina from Absolutely Fabulous. A larger-than-life personality into all the hippest hippie fads: feng shui, chanting, having her colours read, she was known for her hedonistic lifestyle and questionable parenting. She was an extreme person, and yet Eddy became so popular because she parodied someone all of us knew, even if it was to a small extent: the air-kisser, the fashion victim, the mutton dressed as lamb (aka "a Zeppelin in a condom", as Patsy once described her best mate squeezed into something fashionable and unflattering). Would their over-the-top schtick still work 20 years on? That the first of the 20th anniversary specials, screened on TV One last week was followed by Miranda is probably your answer.

In many ways it felt like any old episode. It had all the old characters, including of course, Patsy, who, in her later years has become even more deranged, to the point of answering a wallet.

"It's Stella McCartney," Eddy said, offering the accessory. "Hello Stella," said Pats.

Still with her marbles - and looking younger than ever - was June Whitfield, as Eddy's put-upon but cheery mother, delivering such classic lines as "it looks like your jeans have exploded" while taking in Eddy's denim ensemble. Julia Sawalha, as Saffron, had barely aged either, despite a two-year stint in jail for helping asylum seekers. The rest had gone mad. Bubble was back, looking a bit more like Kath from Kath 'n' Kim, while swilling out of a shaken champers bottle. Saffy's old mate Sarah (aka Titicaca) had actually wound up in an institution.


The point of Saffy's incarceration was to mark that passing of time - albeit two years, rather than two decades. That meant they got to pour over what had happened while she'd been gone - all the important things like the royal wedding and who the hell the new batch of tabloid celebrities were, including the "new disease called the Kardashians". It was Saunders' way of saying that even though 20 years have gone by, the world is now full of real-life Eddys and Patsys - self-absorbed, fame-seeking and image-conscious to the point of ridiculousness. Saunders pulled no punches.

"Look at this fat one on the end," said Patsy. "Very soon she will split like an amoeba and become two Kardashians ... That looks like a boob. In fact, it's just another Kardashian."

Like all good Ab Fab episodes, there was a dream sequence, this one combining Eddy's self-deluded grasp of Danish, as she feverishly tried to get to the bottom of a conundrum involving Patsy's old drug dealer who had helped Pats acquire the "Bugati of pharmaceuticals" and was now holed up in her house.

The fashion was as gaudy too. The best outfit looked like Eddy had borrowed Saffy's primary school hula hoops and high school science project and a created a dress from it. Patsy got around in more demure garb while they worked out exactly how old she was. We never got to see the number.

The second of the specials airs tonight, and this one feels more special, with guest appearances from Emma Bunton of the Spice Girls, who comes in for a ribbing from Saunders when she deliberately gets her confused with Girls Aloud, plus Lulu and fictional French star Jeanne Durand, who Eddy books in at the Royal Albert Hall.

Meanwhile, Lynn Franks is still living down her stint startling viewers with her Earth-mother dancing on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. The Kardashians are still busy making handbags and having bad relationships. Eddy and Patsy? Still fabulous.