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Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders revive their ‘Ab Fab’ personas

Jennifer Saunders (left) and Joanna Lumley reprise their iconic characters, Edina and Patsy, in "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie." | David Appleby/Fox Searchlight

LONDON — While Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders couldn’t be more familiar with their “Absolutely Fabulous” characters that Saunders created, the two women agreed that reprising Patsy and Eddy for the new “Ab Fab” film (opening Friday) was indeed challenging.

Sitting down with the Sun-Times in London’s Soho Hotel, the actresses also noted it was a challenge worth rising to.

“It was quite a challenge to do a whole film, and not just another episode of a TV show,” said Lumley. “But we love these women so much — so after a very short period of time [filming] it was simply fine and felt totally comfortable.”

The whole experience of making “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” was very much “like coming home again, and putting on a very familiar pair of very stylish pumps — or at least pumps that Patsy and Eddy think are very stylish!” added Saunders with a laugh.

As was the case in the television series, which launched in Britain in the early ’90s and soon afterward aired U.S. cable channels, Edina is a public relations woman and Patsy is her best pal and a magazine editor. Both live the high life, with their world totally focused on shopping, drinking (mostly their favorite Bollinger champagne) and partying hearty in all of London’s best clubs and coolest nightspots.

In the new big-screen version, it’s clear time has bypassed Patsy and Eddy and they have become something of a running joke for the younger people they are constantly pursuing — the really cool crowd of 2016. After an unfortunate incident involving supermodel Kate Moss (who plays herself in the film), Patsy and Eddy are forced to flee to the South of France — flat broke, but with huge hopes of reinventing themselves and restoring their bank accounts.

As she did in the old TV series, Lumley’s Patsy is seen constantly smoking in the film. “I do smoke, but nothing like Patsy,” said Lumley. “She smokes and drinks for me, actually, so hopefully she’ll pay the price medically for me as well!

“But I do love to keep it up, to still keep smoking — just in case Jennifer decides to write another show!”

The characters have continued to resonate with audiences over the years — thanks both to the original series and returning “Ab Fab” specials.

“I think it’s because it’s about friendship,” Saunders said. “It’s because they’re really good friends and people love the idea of them being friends. Beyond that, I think the quirkiness of Patsy and Eddy’s particular friendship reminds people of their own good friends — so they can relate.”

Saunders smiled as she noted that “often people send us photos of themselves dressing up as Eddy and Patsy. It gives them a great excuse for them to go out and behave badly.”

Lumley added that the popularity of the two characters “also turns the viewers’ eyes on the absurdity of life. Of course Patsy and Eddy are absurd, but let’s face it, the whole fashion world is pretty absurd, isn’t it? It’s pretty extreme, and ironically that world was the first to grab onto the original series and say how funny it was. That’s quite ironic, when you think of it.”

Both women also are proud of the fact that “Absolutely Fabulous” has been — in many ways — ahead of its time.

“Yes, now the world is like that. Back then, when we got started, it was quite amazing we were able to say and do the things we did,” said Saunders, with Lumley chiming it to add, “It really is a case of life imitating art. So much of what we did and do now in this film happens every day in the real world — at least the world inhabited by our so-called celebrities. … There are so many magazines now. There are also so many celebrities, many merely the creation of social media.

“There’s so much bad behavior, and everyone can now film themselves doing it.”

Among the many stars making cameos in “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie,” is Rebel Wilson, playing a tough flight attendant on a budget airline — operating in a world Patsy and Eddy cannot even envision, let alone experience.

Both Lumley and Saunders admitted it was very difficult to keep a straight face while filming with Wilson.

“Rebel is such a great improviser,” said Lumley. Saunders admitted, “I’d say, ‘I’ve written you a line for this scene,’ but then I’d realize she’d thought up a better one!

“Beyond the joy of working with her, you also realize a scene with her never ends,” said Saunders. “If you don’t shout “Cut!” — and I mean shout ‘Cut!’ VERY loudly — she’ll just keep on going, adding one hilarious improvised line after another. She’s so absolutely brilliant.”

While a sequel to this “Ab Fab” film will depend on how well this movie is received by audiences, Saunders did admit she’d love to have another chance to bring Patsy and Eddy back to the multiplexes.

“Perhaps a Christmastime ‘Ab Fab’? Wouldn’t that be fun?” said the writer and actress. As she mulled over that idea, one could almost seen the wheels turning in her head as her eyes gleamed brightly.