Helen Lederer backs Saunders claims Ab Fab wouldn’t be made in woke era ‘I understand

Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous on This Morning

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Absolutely Fabulous became one of the BBC’s most popular sitcoms following its premiere in 1992. Following the hectic and chaotic misadventures of PR guru Edina (played by Jennifer Saunders) and best pal and equally outlandish Patsy (Joanna Lumley), the duo’s no-holds-barred behaviour endeared themselves to millions week in and week out. However, almost three decades on, Saunders has addressed the fact she thinks the series would struggle to be made in today’s era of cancel culture, something co-star Helen Lederer told Express.co.uk she “understands”.

Lederer’s comments came after Ab Fab’s Saunders had insisted “small-mindedness” and oversensitivity has taken its toll on comedy made in 2021. 

“I think it has changed comedy like what we used to make. I think we would probably talk ourselves out of most of it now,” Saunders said.

“It would be like, ‘We won’t have a good answer so let’s not do that’. I think people do talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive. It stops a lot of the fun, maybe, like jokes. I remember jokes. Silly jokes,” she told The Sun.

When asked about Saunders’ comments at this year’s National Reality Television Awards, Lederer said: “I can understand why Jennifer would say that.”

The Ab Fab star continued: “Because particularly now, we are struggling a bit as a community, you know, we’ve evolved to where we’re at.

“I think we’re learning to communicate and laugh (differently). People are very angry.

“Things like BLM [Black Lives Matter] and all of these other important things have given us pause for thought, to think.

“Now if you’re writing a gag – and wit is very quick, if you even look wit up in the dictionary it says it has to be done at speed to illicit laughs – so you can’t do that (now).”

Explaining further, the actor added: “You can’t just do off the cuff now, you have to think.”

However, while she may agree with Saunders’ claims that the new woke era could pose problems to get Ab Fab off the ground today, Lederer did support the changes needed to comedy.

“(It’s) respectful,” she added. “So I support that but then how do you replace wit by being careful? That’s the question.”

When asked if this threatens to water down comedy in comparison to the 90s or other eras gone by, Lederer replied: “I think we can’t be thoughtless and off the cuff as we were.”

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She added: “We’re learning what will replace that because we still need to laugh. 

“And I think we’re in a time where some of us, the older people, have to think more and you know, we make mistakes and we just have to go ‘look, we will make mistakes’. 

“We’ve got to listen. You can still get it wrong. There may be some instincts or some subliminal things, so you just have to go if I get it wrong, I need to know I’ve got it wrong. It’s a different time.”

But is it as simple as admitting your mistakes nowadays? Lederer said: “No, well, forget being on social media for a start.

“And it makes you question why are we on social media, you know, maybe the purpose of social media has to change.

“I do comedy and charity on social media but you can still get something wrong. It’s quite precarious right now.”

Lederer appeared in over a dozen episodes of Ab Fab overall, returning for its three-episode revival in 2012.

The actor’s CV also boasts appearances in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks, children’s series Iconicles and Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother.

Absolutely Fabulous is available to stream on BritBox now.

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