Wheels on fire, rolling down the road...
British comedy series about the misadventures of Edina Monsoon (writer Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley); two alcoholic party girls who are so far over the hill they've crossed the valley and started up the next hill. Other major characters include Edina's elderly scatter-brained mother, her level-headed and long-suffering daughter Saffron, and Cloudcuckoolander secretary Bubble.
The series aired from 1992-1996, and then again from 2001-2005, and once more for three episodes in 2011-2012. Oh, and there will be a movie, too, to be released in July 2016.
It has won both Emmy and BAFTA awards.
It featured large amounts of crude humor, slapstick, alcoholism and drug abuse. The plots generally centered around Edina's attempts to jump onto the latest trend or to have a good time, Patsy egging her on and encouraging her bad behavior, and Saffron's futile efforts to rein in the insanity and keep her mother on the straight and narrow.
Due to Edina's (oft-neglected) career in public relations, celebrity cameos were common in the show, with some (such as Lulu, Twiggy, and Emma Bunton) becoming recurring characters.
The show grew out of a sketch on French & Saunders, which featured an obnoxious, partying mother and her sober, responsible daughter. This became the basis for Edina's and Saffron's characters.
Came 17th in Britain's Best Sitcom.
- Always Camp: The vast majority of fashion people Edina and Patsy encounter in their careers.
- Author Avatar: Ruby Wax would make occasional appearances as a high-powered fashion editor.
- Beehive Hairdo: Patsy's trademark look.
- Big Applesauce: One episode has Patsy and Edina visiting New York.
- Bilingual Bonus: The punchline of one episode is that Patsy and Edina have been staying in a run-down French cottage when they were supposed to be in a fancy chateau. Three times during the episode a French man tries to explain this to them. Any audience members who speak French will have figured this out about 20 minutes before the characters do.
- Black Comedy: Edina's treatment of Saffron constitutes full-on abuse at times and it's always Played for Laughs.
- Brainy Brunette: Saffron.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Inverted. Saffron is by far the most moral character on the show. Edina, on the other hand, is what happens when the Bratty Teenage Daughter grows up and has children of her own.
- British Brevity: On for eight years total, only 36 episodes.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Bubble, who takes this to new heights of incompetence. Edina keeps her around only because Bubble makes her look good. In the newest episode "Job", Bubble tells the new intern she keeps her job not because of what she does not know, but because of what she DOES know.
- Camp Gay: Serge's boyfriend, Martin.
- Catch Phrase: "Sweetie, darling."
- And Patsy's curt, "Don't question me."
- Celebrity Paradox: Both Patsy Stone and Joanna Lumley are Bond Girls.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Bubble. Occasionally Gran as well.
- Crossover: Eddy and Patsy appeared in a Halloween-themed episode of Roseanne that first aired in 1996. Eddy and Patsy meet Roseanne and Jackie at a high-profile cocktail party in New York. Upon hearing about Roseanne's multi-million dollar lottery winnings, Eddy wastes no time in becoming Roseanne's PR agent and talking her into funding a plan to clone Jackie Kennedy using the method from Jurassic Park. It Makes Sense in Context...
- The context by the way, was the fact that Roseanne had (at the time the episode aired) acquired the rights to produce an American version of the show. This also makes the episode look like a Poorly-Disguised Pilot; looking like Roseanne flew over Jennifer and Joanna to play Eddy and Patsy to see if the show's humor would fly in America.
- A flashback scene involves Patsy appearing a her supposed 70s self, which looks remarkably like Joanna Lumley's "Purdey" character from The Avengers
- Cultural Translation: The sitcom Cybill was sort of an unofficial Americanized variation; an official remake never got past the pilot stage.
- Roseanne had the US remake rights for it for almost a decade but sat on them after ABC told her, point blank, that for them to consider a remake of the show airing on the network, all references to drugs would have to be nixed and that much of the humor bowdlerized.
- Also High Society, another attempt to adapt the show for US audience with Mary McDonald as a Edina-Expy and Jean Smart as a Patsy-Expy.
- Deadpan Snarker: Saffron, although most characters have their moments.
- Doomed New Clothes: Patsy's designer pantsuit in the episode Birthin.
- Drag Queen: In the episode "Sex".
- Also, when Patsy goes to New York City, a group of drag queens mistake her for one. See Dude Looks Like a Lady below.
- Dream Sequence: Edina has had a couple of these, especially when under anaesthesia for a minor surgery.
- Almost the entirety of the episode "Iso Tank" is a dream sequence, as Edina has fallen asleep in her -- you guessed it -- iso tank.
- Dumb Blonde: Bubble. Became more and more so as the series went on.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Sort of. Patsy has been repeatedly mistaken for a crossdresser. The fact that she once lived as a man during the '70s may be a factor.
- Embarrassing First Name: Patsy has a string of them.
- To be exact: Eurydice Colette Clytemnestra Dido Bathsheba Rabelais Patricia Cocteau Stone.
- Fashionable Evil: If Patsy has a D&D-style Character Alignment, this is it.
- Fag Hag: Edina claims that all her friends are gay. This isn't true. She is devastated to learn that Saffron isn't gay.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Ginger ale is substituted for champagne. A gag reel however shows the side effects of using real wine over multiple takes...
- Frozen Face: Happened to Eddy due to too much of a Botox-like injection.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Subverted in the 2011 Christmas episode with Sarah, having established she had been unable to visit Saffron in prison due to being sectioned (held for psychiatric care against her will) apparently due to schizophrenia, she makes jokes about prison sex causing Saffron to slap her. Sarah then runs away screaming "The voices have come back!"
- The Ghost: Edina's son Serge for the majority of the series. Whenever some important event occurred he was always "taking lava samples in Sumatra," or some similar scientific activity to explain his absence. Finally showed up for the special "New York" in which it was revealed that he was actually working in a bookstore in New York City all the time, and that the rest of his family had conspired to keep this a secret from Edina.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Edina and Patsy. Patsy in particular seems lost whenever they are apart.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Saffron had one, which included being abandoned in the park, used to stub out cigarettes by Patsy, and more emotional neglect than seems humanly possible. Now that she's grown and still lives with her mother, she's undergoing a Hilariously Abusive Adulthood (though she has by now learned to fight back).
- Edina's other child, Serge, didn't fare much better. He loved his books more than anything in the world...so Eddy and Patsy set them on fire because "We were cold".
- Patsy had one as well. Her mother actively despised her, and the two were enemies right up until her death.
- Hollywood Dress Code: Saffron dresses mostly in conservative cardigans, Patsy wears dark, fashionable clothes, and Edina usually resembles an LSD hallucination. Bubble's clothes defy explanation.
- And Gran sometimes wears yellow rubber dishwashing gloves for no reason.
- Immune to Drugs: Patsy should have died years ago. Instead she seems functionally immortal.
- Just the Introduction to The Opposites
- Lady Drunk: And how.
- Mama Bear: When Edina finds out the professor flirting with Saffron is married and has four kids, she punches him in the face.
- Must Have Nicotine: Patsy spends an episode secretly sticking nicotine patches on (non-smoker) Saffron, who spends the rest of the episode craving cigarettes and not knowing why.
- My Life Flashed Before My Eyes
- New Age Retro Hippie: Edina, who will jump on any fad known to man, but is especially fond of anything that reminds her of her teenaged years in the '60s.
- Not So Different: In one episode, Edina and Saffron make the same snarky comment about Patsy in unison, then stare at each other in horror.
- Older Than They Look: An episode featured Patsy's estranged sister who claims to be the younger of the two. At the end of the episode she reveals that she is actually 72. Patsy is horrified: "Then how old does that make me?!" In the audio commentary for one episode, Jennifer Saunders theorizes that Patsy has so many chemicals in her body that she is somehow preserved like a mummy. Eddy lampshaded it in-show, too.
Eddy: She's a testament to the power of prescription drugs!
- This doesn't make any sense, as Eddy and Patsy were at secondary school together.
- Actually, it's established in a previous episode that Patsy is actually older than Edina. The two went to school together because Patsy didn't start attending school until she was much older.
- The 2011 Christmas episode established that Patsy is well over 60, as she has thousands in back payments on her pension.
- Only Sane Man: Or woman, in Saffy's case.
- Outdated Outfit: Everything Edina owns, although she is convinced it's the height of fashion.
- Pet the Dog: Eddy has a few moments, like when she buys Saffron a kitten to replace the one she lost years ago, or when she tries to comfort Saffron for feeling like a bad mother by telling her that "everything is [Edina's] fault, darling!"
- Real Song Theme Tune: "This Wheel's on Fire", which was purposely re-recorded by Julie Driscoll for the show.
- Refuge in Audacity: An in-universe example: Saffron writes a serious play based on her own life that's supposed to be a scathing attack on her mother's neglect, but instead becomes a hit comedy that everyone (including Edina) loves because the characters of Edina and Patsy are as ridiculous as their counterparts.
- Rich Bitch: Edina may qualify, although she also tends to hate this sort of character.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor In Sense: Edina. Her ex-husbands cut her off at one point when they find out she has been scamming them for years, and she fears becoming poor. But it turns out that even without them she's still wealthy -- Saffy just lets her think she'll be poor to teach her a lesson. Doesn't work.
- Screaming Birth
- Slapstick Knows No Gender
- The Snark Knight: Saffron, and how!
- Spin-Off: Almost. A series based on the popular recurring character Bo (girlfriend and later wife to Edina's ex-husband, Marshall) has been proposed on several occasions. Although new rumors surfaced occasionally, it never quite happened.
- Invisible to Gaydar: Edina's son, Serge. Much to her dismay, as she wanted him to turn out to be a Camp Gay.
- Edina's ex-husband Justin also qualifies.
- Studio Audience: Most episodes of the show were filmed in front of a live audience, save for the various scenes filmed on location.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Patsy once spun a sob story about her miserable childhood to persuade Saffron to do her a favor. It worked and Patsy was quite smug, until Edina reminded her that the story was true.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Edina gets a karaoke machine for her 40th birthday, and the episode ends with her and Patsy singing a duet of "Wheels on Fire".
- Ultimate Job Security: Patsy got her job as the editor of a fashion magazine by sleeping with the publisher, and the position requires so little of her that she shows up there only a couple of times a year, and even then only to claim free clothes and other giveaways. It takes the magazine going out of business to dislodge her from it, and she immediately gets another job at a high-fashion store which requires even less work on her part, as it actively discourages customers.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Edina and Patsy.
- Visit by Divorced Dad: Edina has two ex-husbands, and a child by each of them. Both became recurring characters and visited frequently.