‘Eyes were streaming!’ Joanna Lumley left ‘unable to speak’ after suffering huge blunder

Joanna Lumley reveals how she reacted to her Damehood

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Joanna Lumley, 75, has looked back on the awkward moment she ate several green chillies thinking they were green beans. The Absolutely Fabulous star said the mistake left her unable to speak and feeling as though her “ears would explode”.

Speaking on the Table Manners podcast, Joanna was asked whether she can take a lot of heat when it comes to her food.

She confessed: “Some, Some. I once took a mouthful of green chillies, the hot hot hot green chillies, thinking they were green beans.

“I was on a trek through Bhutan and vegetarians get very slim pickings on these feasts.

“So I saw it and I thought it was a dish of green beans and I crushed a whole lot in my mouth.”

Describing the effect eating so many chillies at once had on her body, Joanna explained: “And I was completely silent for about 20 minutes, which was a relief to everybody.

“And my eyes were streaming and I couldn’t speak! And I felt as though my ears would explode, it was so hot.”

Thanks to her job, Joanna has been able to travel and experience different cultures.

Speaking to  Express.co.uk in 2015, Joanna said she was scolded by “stern” Russian officials when arriving at the country’s border.

She said: “We were idiots trying to film going through the Russian border.

“The Russians were quite stern about that and we had to wipe almost all the film we had taken.

“Having said that, it is impossible to film in Hyde Park without a permit so we are not blaming countries for that, but you have to prepare yourself, especially when you have got so little time.”

She had arrived in Russia with her crew to recreate her Vanity Fair shoot in Moscow at the height of the Cold War.

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The actress explained: “We were so constrained in 1966, which was in the grip of the Cold War, so we were literally marched from our hotel.”

She even stayed in the same hotel as she had done five decades earlier.

Once she got there, she recognised her surroundings, though the hotel had been “hugely redecorated” after so many years.

Joanna said: “I stood there and I thought, ‘This is familiar’.

“Of course, when I’d stayed there before it was a barn, a huge grand hotel that had been taken over by the Communists and it had babushkas [old women] sitting on each floor counting you in and counting you out, like border guards, when you entered the room.

“My room in the old days had two tables and about five beds, like a dormitory, a vast place.

“It was bizarre. Now it is luxury, and yet I still remember it.”

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