November 09, 2001 12:15 PM

They’ve been described as Lucy and Ethel on LSD, totally bonkers, hysterically funny — and now they’re back. After a five-year hiatus, Comedy Central will launch six new episodes of the quintessential ’90s British sitcom, “Absolutely Fabulous,” starting Monday, Nov. 12. Jennifer Saunders, 43, is reprising her role as zaftig, eternally hyper Edina Monsoon and Joanna Lumley, 55, is returning as the Ivana Trump clone, former model and party girl Patsy Stone, Edina’s loopy best friend. And Edina’s daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha), remains the sanest one of all. PEOPLE TV critic Terry Kelleher, after previewing the new episodes, thinks “it’s just a tad less fabulous than before,” but admits that there are still times when the show is “riotously funny.” But wasn’t a return to “Ab Fab” inevitable? “Probably,” says Saunders, who also writes the show. As she told the Associated Press, “I hadn’t done it for five years, and it just seemed there was some scope for it and that the world had changed — that there were enough other things to write about again.”

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