Adrian Edmondson played a key role in the success of Absolutely Fabulous, he reveals.
He had the inspired idea of Joanna Lumley playing the iconic Patsy Stone, suggesting the actress to his wife Jennifer Saunders, who created the show.
Adrian, 66, recalls: “Another actress was in the frame and at first I didn’t want to say Joanna Lumley in case Jennifer thought, ‘Oh, he’s just saying that because he fancies her’. But then I said, ‘What about Joanna Lumley?’ So I’m claiming that.”
The couple have been married for almost 40 years and, for Adrian, it was love at first sight. “Yes, it was for me,” he says. “You’d have to ask Jennifer how she felt. I grew up at a boys school and never learnt to talk to women. I was always a bit on the back foot.”
In his moving and funny autobiography Berserker!, out this week, he talks about how the couple’s love was cemented. They were friends on the alternative comedy circuit in the 80s, dating other people.
But one day Jennifer left an empty Silk Cut cigarette packet under Adrian’s car windscreen wiper with the words: “I love you, Adrian. Love Jennifer.” He still has that packet.
He clearly loves being a father to their three girls – songwriter Ella, 37, actress Beattie, 36, and yoga teacher Freya, 32, and was determined not to be like his own father. “My rule has been, ‘What would Dad do? Don’t do that’. Encourage them to do what they want. Don’t denigrate things you don’t understand.”
Ade was sent to a boarding school in Yorkshire when he was 12 where caning was common. “Writing the book put my childhood into perspective,” he says. “There’s quite a lot about violence in there. It’s bizarre that we used to let that happen.”
He also details his relationship on and off-screen with the late Rik Mayall, his co-star in The Young Ones and later the sitcom Bottom.
- Berserker! An Autobiography by Adrian Edmondson is out on Thursday (Pan Macmillan, £22 hardback). Also in audiobook, narrated by Adrian.