She won two BAFTA TV Awards for her role as Patsy Stone in the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous (1992–2012), and was nominated for the 2011 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for the Broadway revival of La Bête. In 2013, she received the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards and in 2017, she was honoured with the BAFTA Fellowship award.
Lumley’s other television credits include The New Avengers (1976–1977), Sapphire & Steel (1979–1982), Sensitive Skin (2005–2007), and Jam & Jerusalem (2006–2008). Her film appearances include On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Shirley Valentine (1989), James and the Giant Peach (1996), Ella Enchanted (2004), Corpse Bride (2005), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016). In addition she had a cameo role in several episodes of Are You Being Served (His & Hers and German Week) which was written by Jeremy Lloyd, whom she had both married and divorced three years previously.
Lumley is an advocate and human rights activist for Survival International and the Gurkha Justice Campaign. She supports charities and animal welfare groups, such as Compassion in World Farming and Vegetarians’ International Voice for Animals. She is also patron of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity and the Farm Animal Sanctuary. She is also known as ‘daughter of Nepal’ in Nepal.