British actress runs absolutely fabulous Gurkha campaign

LONDON, May 9, 2009 (AFP) – British actress Joanna Lumley’s best-known role used to be as a boozy fashionista in hit comedy “Absolutely Fabulous”, but now she is dominating TV screens as a formidable campaigner for Gurkha soldiers. Lumley — leading a campaign for all Nepalese fighters in Britain’s army to be allowed to settle here permanently — has become a national treasure with her well-spoken but devastating critiques of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s unpopular government.

“Joanna Lumley for Prime Minister” was the headline in Friday’s Daily Express, while a string of groups with titles like “Joanna Lumley Is My Hero” have sprung up on online social networking site Facebook.

Lumley, who was born in British-ruled Kashmir in 1946, is supporting the Gurkhas because her father was a British major in the 6th Gurkha Rifles during World War II. The 63-year-old actress has said he would have been “overwhelmed with shame and fury” at Britain’s treatment of them.

Her new role is a long way from her career as one of Britain’s best-loved actresses of the last 25 years, though.

After starting out as a model, one of Lumley’s earliest appearances was a bit part in the 1969 James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” w