Absolutely Fabulous! Joanna Lumley’s tips for living life to the fullest at 74

Joanna Lumley OBE celebrated her 74th birthday this year, yet looking at photographs of the loveable star, we can hardly believe she is that age at all. We adore the actress’ down to earth personality, infectious humour and innate class. Joanna is one of those people who just seems to radiate inner peace; you can tell she lives life on her terms and spends her time following her passions – be it acting, travelling or family life.

Along with her many acting credits, Joanna is also known as a model, author and activist having made headlines with her work for the Gurkha Justice Campaign. She was born in India in 1946 to an English mother and Scottish father and went on to live in Kent, Sussex and Malaysia. Despite not getting into drama school, Joanna is now one of Britain’s national treasures, first finding fame as Purdey in The New Avengers and later as Patsy in hit TV series Absolutely Fabulous.

Ahead of Joanna’s 75th birthday next year, we take a look at how she stays looking and feeling so vivacious…

Joanna on beauty

Joanna always looks amazing and much younger than her years, so how does she do it? She’s loyal to the brands that work for her. The star has said: “I use Astral moisturiser to take off make-up. I’ve used it since the 60s.” The little blue pot is available to buy at Boots and many chemists around the world. “It has never been tested on animals and is about the only thing I’ve never developed an allergy to,” she added.

The actress’ advice for exfoliating her skin is fantastic too: “Take an old soft toothbrush, soap and water, and gently stroke your face. It stimulates the cells and gets rid of dead skin cells that accumulate more easily as we age.”

On ageing

While many A-list stars seem intent on holding back the years, Joanna takes a wholly refreshing path and embraces ageing. She has previously said that her age “doesn’t amount to a hill of beans – it’s just numbers.” Joanna also chooses to think about her own mortality regularly, so she makes the most of every day and ensures that ‘you don’t waste life’ as it’s so short. We love her realistic approach.

On travel

If you’ve watched any of Joanna’s travel shows on TV, you’ll know she has a wonderful passion for travelling to new places and discovering new cultures. For her, travel is about exploring rather than topping up one’s tan and dining in fancy restaurants. “Travel is for blisters and eating strange things and sleeping rough,” she has said. Luckily for us viewers, Joanna intends to create more travel shows in the future.

On reading

There’s nothing so good for the soul as losing yourself in a good book and Joanna is quite the bookworm. She has revealed: “We are a family of readers. My husband is terribly bookish. The house is groaning with books, they stand in piles.” We just love this – her home sounds like such a peaceful haven. “We read any time at all, at the kitchen table, in the evening, on trains, in bed at night.”

On marriage

A long term relationship takes work to stand the test of time, as every couple knows. Joanna and her husband Stephen Barlow have found a lifestyle that suits them and keeps their romance fresh. “What you do is be away a lot,” she has said. “He’s away a lot and so am I. So never get bored with them, never take them for granted.”

Joanna told chat show host Jonathan Ross: “We are both independent. I love being on my own. When I’m away, I don’t even phone home. Incidentally I come from a different generation where we couldn’t usually afford to phone home, so I’ve never been used to it. I like to write a postcard. I won’t phone, that takes your travelling head away from you… You don’t want people to keep phoning. If you’re on the other side of the world it’s always the wrong time.”

On mental health

All is not perfect in Joanna’s life, however, and like many people, she suffers from depression sometimes. She explained: “Occasionally I get eclipsed by sadness or depression, the black dog on your shoulder, and feel lousy for two or three months. And then one morning everything’s thrilling again.” Joanna adds: “You’ve got to have lived life to the full and been grateful.” We’re with her on that.

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