Did you tune in to watch the Absolutely Fabulous Olympics Special on BBC 1 last night (if you missed it, catch up on iPlayer). Here, Paul Flynn gives us his verdict...
‘Oh, darling it’s been everywhere for five bloody years, hasn’t it?’ says Edina Monsoon, on the subject of the Olympics, ‘No wonder I’ve missed it starting. It’s been like tinnitus.’ I liked that line. It was funny. Eds and Pats should hate the Olympics. But, soon enough the joke backfires spectacularly. Yes, it has been bloody everywhere. The Absolutely Fabulous Olympics Special should come with its own deafening death knell. It’s like tinnitus.
In a spectacular continuity gaff (hello producers!), the AbFab tribe sit down to watch the opening ceremony fifteen minutes after Saffy’s informed her mother they’ve began. The central joke in this clumsy, will-this-do episode is of Edina renting out her house to Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones for the event. The canned laughter has rarely echoed around a more hollow residence. There was a specific request from the BBC press department not to give away the special guests, but there was none asking not to reveal the no-shows. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.
Saffy is done up in African National Dress while Nana is watching Homes Under the Hammer on an iPad. Marshall (Saffy’s Dad) is declared a sex addict. There is the ubiquitous list of contemporary references to shallow glitz: Shoreditch House, Galliano’s anti-semitic rant, Ocado deliveries, Cher playing the O2 (actually, that’s quite lolz). An uncomfortable strand of the humour is cruelly eeked out of Patsy now being an incontinent old woman and having to use Tena Lady, something Matt Lucas and David Walliams proved, fairly conclusively wasn’t remotely humorous several seasons ago. Jane Horrock’s Bubbles adorns various Olympic costumery at the back of screen to enact varying disciplines for no reason. Her gymnastics bit kind of works.
Despite the odd spluttering moment of empty hysteria, putting an Olympics slant on AbFab is as square peg/round hole scenario as Patsy doing her Saturday shop in Uniqlo. If you want actual laughs from the Olympics I’d make haste away from this cobbled-together nonsense at silent speed and head straight to Amazon for a box set of Twentytwelve, the BBC’s executive sitcom ironising the Olympic Development Committee. Hugh Bonneville gets more chuckles in one expression than Jennifer Saunders does in this mess. Let’s hope she saved all her good lines for Viva Forever!. The Olympics AbFab is totes Viva For Never.