Oh Sweetie, the New Arcade Is Ab Fab! Joanna Lumley Cuts the Ribbon to Open Centre

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Byline: Brian Daniel

IT was an Absolutely Fabulous day for shoppers yesterday as actress Joanna Lumley opened a new flagship development. Joanna, who plays shopaholic Patsy in the hit BBC series and also starred in The New Avengers, cut the ribbon at Morpeth's pounds 32m Sanderson Arcade.

Work started on the town centre development in July 2008 and it opened after six years of planning with 90,000 square feet of new retail space, as well as a new transport interchange and modern office space.

The Edwardian-style arcade with landscaped piazza houses Marks and Spencer, Fat Face, New Look, Waterstones and Laura Ashley, as well as a host of local companies.

Hundreds of townsfolk turned out to see Joanna cut the ribbon, alongside a host of local dignitaries.

The actress, who has championed the rights of Ghurka soldiers and been awarded the OBE, thrilled the crowd with a "cheers sweeties" her Ab Fab character's catchphrase, and by describing the development as "Absolutely Fabulous". She said: "I think this was a most stupendous achievement particularly as it was not ready until this morning.

"It is my first visit to Morpeth and it will not be my last. I am utterly thrilled to be here, there is something extraordinary about the people, the way the river runs through it and sometimes over it!

"This is going to be a huge success not only for Morpeth but people around here.

"It is just fabulous. It sits so beautifully within the town itself.

"Patsy would have used Eddy's (co-character Edina, played by Jennifer Saunders) card, she would have shopped the place dry."

Mark Dransfield, managing director of scheme developer Dransfield Properties and Morpeth II, said: "I think the day has gone unbelievably well.

"I can not believe how many people Joanna has attracted and how well respected she is.

"We are very honoured that she came here to do the opening today.

"We are looking forward to many, many years here in Morpeth. …