Judge and Jury: Lynne’s bid to reclaim her identity needs more charisma - The campaign for Lynne Franks’ autobiography has been concentrating too much on predictable writers with predictable views, says Frank Wintle, a director of Band and

Years ago, I made a film in which the poet and critic Donald Davie gave a telling interview. ’Beware,’ he said, ’of getting too close to any artist.

Years ago, I made a film in which the poet and critic Donald Davie

gave a telling interview. ’Beware,’ he said, ’of getting too close to

any artist.

An artist’s principal obligation is to make something, and if he decides

to make something out of you, that can be very bad news indeed.’

His words returned as I watched the campaign for Lynne Franks’

autobiography, Absolutely Now!, and as that campaign was obscured by the

political one.

When Jennifer Saunders created Edina Monsoon, it was more than an act of

satire. For while, say, Spitting Image lampooned Grey John and New Tony

for those who could distinguish between parody and the reality,

Absolutely Fabulous created ’Lynne Franks’ for audiences who were

generally unaware that Lynne Franks really existed.

And there’s the rub. Some of the journalists who have written about

Franks and her book seemed to resent the fact that they were being

presented with the autobiography of Lynne Franks, and not of ’Lynne

Franks’. This is absurd, but how far was that response anticipated when

the campaign was planned? How far did it govern the selection of

interviewers? And how far was this campaign designed to repossess ’Lynne


The choice of interviewers and what they wrote was often too


None that I’ve read would seem naturally disposed to take the story

forward and help this top PR obstetrician of her time give birth to a

new public persona. Franks’ autobiographical and interview style seems

to be complete and chaotic spiritual nudity. I know Absolutely Now! is

aimed at women between the ages of 30 and 60, but as a bottled-up,

bourgeois, middle-aged, protestant male who finds her style slightly

shocking, confusing, and rather beguiling, I would like to see her

engaged with writers who might inventively address one of the core

stories: how does somebody whose life has been usurped by an artist

recapture the narrative?

My partner said she definitely intended to buy Absolutely Now! because

when she was directing The Full Wax Franks was an habitue of the green

room and was ’utterly charismatic’. Those who met him used to say the

same about John Major. But the essence of the charisma didn’t come

across in either campaign.

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