Ab Fab star Joanna Lumley made a dame

"It comes as a complete and unexpected surprise," Dame Joanna Lumley says of her UK Honours gong.

Joanna Lumley has said she is "astonished, thrilled and touched beyond words" at being made a dame in the New Year Honours.

The actress, 75, known for her role as outrageously boozy Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous, has been honoured for services to drama, entertainment and charitable causes.

She said in a statement to the PA news agency: "I am astonished and thrilled and touched beyond words to receive this colossal honour. It comes as a complete and unexpected surprise, and is the kindest and most beautiful present imaginable."

Acting aside, she has also made a name for herself as a campaigner, fighting for the rights of Gurkhas to settle in the United Kingdom and also supporting numerous environmental campaigns.

Dame Joanna was made an OBE in 1995, and received the BAFTA TV Fellowship at a star-studded ceremony in 2017.

Accepting the award on stage, she said: "This for me is paradise, I am in the company that I wished to keep ever since I was young. I wanted to be with the people who left race and religion and gender and shoe size outside the door.

"I wanted to be with those people, I wanted to hang out with the boys in the band, I wanted to be part of the sisterhood, I wanted to be in this real circus."

Absolutely Fabulous originally ran between 1992 and 1996 but was revived from 2001 to 2004.

Her other career highlights include her role as Purdey in The New Avengers, a role which propelled her to fame in 1976 , as well as a lesser-known appearance in 1973 on Coronation Street as Ken Barlow's posh girlfriend Elaine.

Lumley's movie credits include a role in the 1969 Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. She also shared a kiss with Leonardo DiCaprio while starring in the Martin Scorsese crime drama The Wolf Of Wall Street and appeared in two Pink Panther films.

In 2016 she and her co-star Jennifer Saunders made a triumphant return to the big screen as Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone for Absolutely Fabulous The Movie, which included celebrity cameos from Kate Moss, Jon Hamm and more.

Born three kilometres up in the Himalayas in Kashmir, where her father was an officer in the Gurkha Rifles, Lumley was educated at a convent in Hastings, East Sussex.

After starting out as a model, her talents extended beyond the catwalk and she soon made a name on the stage.

Lumley has two BAFTA awards under her belt for her performance in Ab Fab, and in 2000 she claimed the Special Award for her work in The New Avengers.

Other recent television stints include a guest role in sitcom Motherland as well as ITV's Finding Alice.

In 2019 she was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Chester in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the arts.

Australian Associated Press