Some shows have fans, like Frasier and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. They’re the sorts of programs that people watch, enjoy, walk away from and never think of again.

Other shows, like Buffy, Seinfeld and Kath And Kim, have more serious watchers -“ often bordering on obsessive freaks. These fans are DVD box set buyers and people who memorise episodes just because they’ve watched them so often. Absolutely Fabulous is one of those programs.

The show that launched a thousand sweetie darlings is back, and there’s some good news for those Ab Fab freaks: After a not-so-funny fourth series, Eddy, Patsy, Saffy, Bubble, Gran and those two random fash-mag slags are in fine form this time around.

Series five spoilers have been printed in just about every magazine and newspaper now, so most viewers will know what happens in the first episode. Emma Bunton (the singer formerly known as Baby Spice) turns up as Eddy’s latest celebrity PR client. They clean the house for Saffy who is returning from Africa. Saffy’s pregnant, which is a relief for Eddy, who says Saffy’s widening around the hips is just cruel genetic fate. When Eddy realises in the second episode that the father is not some spotty ginger-minger and the baby will be half-African, she comes around. It’s the Chanel of babies, she says.

Ab Fab started out as a short skit on Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French’s French And Saunders, with French playing the long-suffering daughter Saffy. When the show first aired in 1992, it was an instant success, inspiring tributes from everyone, from drag queens to the Pet Shop Boys.

It’s always been gay, despite the absence of gay characters. Eddy’s unhappy wealth and Patsy’s fabulous lust lend them a definite gay air. Bubble is a flighty, skinny twink. And Eddy considers Saffy’s dowdiness only excusable if she is, in fact, a lesbian.

The show’s campness is reflected in the line-up of special guests during series five -“ as well as Emma Bunton, Elton John, Jean Paul Gaultier and Minnie Driver all make appearances.

Absolutely Fabulous is one of the funniest, edgiest comedies ever produced and it’s aging well despite a few hiccups along the way. Fans and freaks can look forward to some more good fabulous years.

The fifth series of Absolutely Fabulous screens weekly on ABC TV from tonight (Thursday 24 June) at 8:30pm.

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