NZ Woman's Weekly

Jennifer Saunders changes gear

We’re used to seeing Jennifer Saunders dressed in hip-hugging Christian LacrMix as Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous, but the 55-year-old takes on a more modest look in the UK TV comedy series Blandings, set in 1929 and based on stories by writer PG Wodehouse.

The actress plays Connie, who goes to live with her befuddled brother, Lord Emswoth (Timothy Spall) at Blandings Castle.

Jennifer says she loved working in a comedy that for once she didn’t have to write.

What was it about Blandings that appealed to you?

Guy Andrews’ scripts were laugh-out-loud funny. That’s very rare these days.

Have you always liked PG Wodehouse?

Yes, I’m a huge fan. He writes proper jokes. They are crafted in an extremely funny way, which I know is so hard to do. From his descriptions, you can see immediately that it’s funny.

Describe your character.

She is a frustrated battle-axe. Connie is frustrated because she’s not quite a battle-axe, but would like to be more of one. When she is alone, she can be fun. She sits there, eating Turkish delight, wrapped in an exotic shawl and is transported to her own special world, and she imagines she is travelling around the Middle East. She has all these romantic ideas. But then, sadly, reality hits, and she remembers that she has to sort out the staff or her niece’s marriage.

Why is she at Blandings?

Her husband has died, so she’s having to live with her brother and his ridiculous son, Freddie. Because of primogeniture, Clarence has all the money and power, but she is so much more capable. She is constantly explaining stuff to him, but it never goes in. If he would only listen to what she says, then she would be happy. But he’s
a total shambles. That makes for great comedy.

Why do you think Blandings will strike a chord with a modern audience?

It’s pure escapism and people love that feeling, especially in the current economic climate. It’s a lovely comic world for viewers to lose themselves in.

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