Saturday, 15 October 2011

A conversation between Joanna Lumley and her agent about a documentary in Greece

Joanna Lumley answers her ringing telephone at home.

"Joanna, darling, it's Bernie."

"Bernie? Bernie who?"

"Your agent darling."

"Oh, Bernie Bernie! Hello darling how are you?"

"I'm well darling."

"Splendid. What's new? Benidorm aren't still pestering are they? Tell them for the umpteenth I'm simply not interested. If I wanted a part as a promiscuous drunk I'd pop next door to the massage parlour. Dolly says she'll have me anytime. Upper class birds are a big hit apparently."

"No, no it's not Benidorm, darling. I think they're trying someone else now. The word on the street is Flick Kendall's in the frame. It's all over Twitter. But no, they decided not to go for you co-hosting the rugby world cup in the end, so the whole deal fell apart."

"Oh well. Boris says he'll sort me a spot with the torch next July so comme ce comme ca quelquefois as they say."

"Right. Good, good. No, I'm calling because I have an offer about Greece."

"Really? Are they doing another sequel? I'd thought they'd go straight to Olivia, darling."

"No, not Grease, darling - Greece, the country."

"Ah I see! Ha ha ha! I thought it rather peculiar. But isn't Greece teetering on total economic collapse?"

"They are darling, yes."

"Oh what a terrible drag. Tell me more."

"Well you'll recall your time wafting around The Nile and reacting to everything with awe and wonderment for that documentary you did last year?"

"I do darling. Who was it for again?"

"ITV, darling."

"Oh yes! ITV - what a funny little channel they are!"

"Well now they want you to do it again but in Greece."

"I see. So I fly in, a few tours, meet a couple of locals, switch between genuinely fascinated and slightly amazed and back again, business class home before you know it?"

"I think they need you there for a few weeks."


"But The Nile programme was a big hit apparently. People like your approach to things. They like your reaction to everything - kind of respectful but also constantly amazed and you take everything in your stride."

"Well when you've taken as many cabs as me dear..."

"I know Joanna, I know. So will you do it?"

"Well... (sighs). Might it not be a little inappropriate, what with all the financial troubles there at the mo? And me wafting in wearing my finest silk head-scarf and an immaculate white trouser suit?"

"Well it can get dreadfully hot, and you'll need to keep cool."

"And what happens if I say no?"

"It goes to Caroline Quentin."

"Then I'll do it darling. Sort out the cash and leave it along with a Harrods hamper on the doorstep by noon."

"Will do darling. Lots of love."

"Oh and Brian..."


"Will I have to talk to the locals or climb up any building sites in any way and say how much I don't like it because of my vertigo but do it anyway for the sake of the viewer?"

"Erm, yes. You're contractually obliged to. Yes there's a clause here about fondling old marble."

"Fine, fine. Just checking. And if it rains can I look like I've just popped out to Marks for a melon, in my raincoat and tartan umbrella? I'm going to push for that. Can we push for that, darling?"

"I'll talk to the producers, darling, certainly."

"In fact, can I be a producer? An executive one?"

"Why not?!"

"Splendid. But other than that, I can just waft around all graceful and gasp in awe and wonderment at the unfolding world around me, almost as if I'm some sort of alien unfamiliar with these strange people in their strange little country, when really I'm a much loved national treasure in a head-scarf beloved of so many for my fabulous portrayal of so many much loved comedy parts now firmly ensconced in the national consciousness? That whole bit?"

"Like I say darling, contractually obliged."

"Splendid. Now is that all? It's Cash in the Attic darling and Rippon's spotted a teapot that could be worth a pony."

"No that's all for now, darling. I'll be in touch about the..."

(phone line buzzes as Joanna hangs up)

Joanna Lumley's Greek Odyssey, ITV1, Thursdays, 9pm.

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