Purdey: 'I was barren but I still had a child'

Only Joanna Lumley's (Purdey) very close friends knew the truth about her son James until now. He was born ten years ago, exactly months after the doctor had told Joanna she was pregnant. During an exclusive interview that Prive's Barbara Plugge had with her in London, Joanna finally revealed all about James' birth.

Ten years ago, Joanna Lumley, the beautiful "Purdey" from "The Avengers," must have been an insufferable woman. In those days she only cared about her appearance, and other things than a beautiful face and a beautiful body could not captivate her in any way. Korton: Joanna led a superficial existence. She earned her living posing for photographers and she had only one goal in life: to always be so beautiful.

Joanna Lumley probably would have been just as unimaginative and self-centered had it not been for James’ birth ten years ago. Indeed, suddenly, because what other word should you use, when one day you hear from your doctor that you are already five months pregnant? Especially when you had thought all along that you needed to put on a diet, because your tummy was getting so annoyingly round! Joanna has always found her life story so embarrassing that she only informed her closest friends of James', to say the least, eccentric announcement. But on that sunny afternoon, in the heart of London, Joanna Lumley, 31, unexpectedly tells Prive:

“My son James is the most important man in my life and he makes my life worth living. Despite that, he owes his own life only to a huge blunder by the doctors.”

Joanna (much more beautiful and interesting than in the series) stares out the window at these words. Then she suddenly returns to reality and she says: “It's a good thing you didn't know me ten years ago, because not a night went by that I didn't hang out in bars. I enjoyed being admired and worshipped by nannies. I often went to bed with men. Of course I had consulted a doctor beforehand. He had examined me extensively and exclaimed with a laugh, ‘You're worrying about nothing, Joanna. You are infertile. You will never be able to have children…’” Joanna says she was more than relieved. After all, children were nothing to her. Besides, she could now go on with her life with impunity. But a few weeks later, Joanna was plagued with dizziness and an unstoppable craving for pickles. Not quite sure of the matter, she went to the doctor, who brushed off her premonitions with the words, “You really don't have to worry about anything.” As the months went by, Joanna noticed that her tummy was becoming rounder. She again consulted her doctor, but this time again he assured her that she was worrying for nothing. "I'll just have to get in line, then," thought Joanna. But no matter how hungry she was, months after the first dizzy spells, Joanna reported to her doctor for the umpteenth time. To reassure her, the doctor did an extensive examination. That same day, he triumphantly announced to the troubled Joanna: "Congratulations, you are pregnant and if all goes well, baby will be born in just over three months!"

"It was like my world was collapsing. I had to let the child come. Although I knew who the father was, I never thought about marrying him. Marry this man for the sake of a child? Never!” Four months after Joanna's GP's triumphant announcement, the baby was indeed born. It was a son, James. Joanna realizes it must sound strange to many people, but when the nurses placed the warm, plump baby in her arms, she suddenly became a different woman, a different person. And that has remained so to this day.

"People don't believe it when I say it, but the day James was born, my life changed in an instant. Suddenly I got a real goal to live for.”

There is nothing in Joanna's demeanor that indicates that she is a star who can't walk down the street without being stared at. That countless girls also got a Purdey haircut.

As modestly as the British actress takes to life, so modest is she in her work.

“What I do as Purdey is really nothing. Basically I feel like I'm superfluous. I wish I could play like Michael Kitchen, my friend. Michael only plays in very serious plays and when 'Awards' were given out in England, he would be the first to get one. Michael hasn't been out of work all his life and that's saying something in England! The strange thing is that no one recognizes him when he is walking down the street. It's actually exactly the same with Sir Laurence Oliver, still one of the greatest actors of all time. But you wouldn't recognize him either if he suddenly walked into this room.”

I ask what Michael thinks of her role of Purdey.

"To tell you the truth, he's never seen an episode. He always works when the series is broadcast. Of course we could have bought a video if it had been on it, but I think it would be better if he didn't see the series. Aside from the fact that I find my role incomplete (I've complained about that, but so far it hasn't helped), this second series is just really bad. Joanna Lumley has been out of work since the (provisional) last recordings of 'The Avengers', just before Christmas last year, but she doesn't really complain. She also enjoys the domestic life too much that she can now lead during the day with her Michael. She recently moved in with him.

Michael, who is two years younger, is clearly the man in Joanna's life. "But no wedding plans," she exclaims before I can ask. “I have been married once before and that is a reason for me to work a lot more thoughtfully from now on.”

Joanna doesn't want to talk about James' father, whom she sees for a while. “He is the father of my child, but that's about it,” she explains. According to Joanna, James and Michael get along great, which is a load off her heart. However, she does not believe that James sees a father figure in her boyfriend. "I think it's funny because he knows his real father. James is a very intelligent child and he is fully aware of the situation. He is very happy, which he can easily be, because he has never experienced fights or situations between his parents.” Joanna Lumley would be a happy woman if Michael hadn't shown so much depression lately. Those depressions would then not be traced to Michael's work, but to his age.

"Michael will soon be thirty and the idea scares him terribly. Men seem to have a problem with that. He is acting very nervous at the moment and it has become much more difficult to live with him now. I never thought that a man's age would become a problem in my life! I myself have never considered the idea of getting older. I think that's because I'm so tall and it always made me look older. It may sound crazy, but I've never been a young, grown-up girl. I have been a woman for as long as I can remember.

“I also wore makeup very early on. Actually, I've always been eager to turn thirty, because I thought that age better suited my appearance and character. I don't care that my body might get older and that I get more wrinkles.”

Purdey writes next week exclusively weekly for Prive.

Box at bottom of page: You cannot miss this! Purdey Writing for Prive. We are delighted that Joanna Lumley, Purdey from 'The Avengers', will be writing a weekly column in Prive starting next week. After Adele, Jos Brink and Henk Molenberg, a big name is now going to write in Prive again. Every week, Purdey will write down her adventures, funny, romantic, but also dramatic things for you. Purdey does this exclusively for Prive. You should not miss this. Purdey weekly in Prive as a columnist.

Photo caption: Purdey enjoys the home life she now leads.

Box on index page: Purdey: “I was sterile but I had a child anyway.” The famous 'Avenger', tells for the first time about her startling pregnancy, which led to the birth of her son James. Purdey will also write for Prive from next week. Don't miss it!

Editor's column: Strictly Prive by Henk van der Meyden:

Dear readers and dear readers,

Today I am able to present a new employee to our magazine.

It is none other than Purdey aka the actress Joanna Lumley.

As Purdey, she became a household name through the series "The Avengers", also so beloved in our country.

It's not for nothing that "John Steed" called her the most intelligent "Avenger" with whom he has played over the years in an interview. She is a modern young woman of this time and such a woman, I thought, belongs in Prive.

Not only as a star, but also as an employee. We approached Purdey and she was immediately enthusiastic to be part of our editorial team as an employee.

From next week you can expect a contribution written by Purdey himself every week for the time being. We are pleased that Purdey will now be writing for Prive. This makes Prive a magazine of an international level.

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