Janet Ellis

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Janet Ellis
Born Janet Michelle Ellis
(1955-09-16) 16 September 1955 (age 59)
Chatham, Kent, England, UK
Occupation TV presenter and actress
Known for Blue Peter and Jigsaw presenter
Spouse(s) Robin Bextor (1977-1984)
John Leach (1987-present)
Children Sophie Ellis-Bextor (born 1979)
Jackson "Jack" Ellis-Leach (born 1987)
Martha-Rose Ellis-Leach (born 1991)

Janet Michelle Ellis (born 16 September 1955)[1] is an English television presenter and actress, best known for presenting the BBC children's television programmes Blue Peter and Jigsaw between 1979 and 1987. She is the mother of the singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and the drummer (and former child actor) Jackson Ellis-Leach.

Early life[edit]

Ellis was born in Chatham, Kent.[2] Her father was a soldier, stationed during her childhood at various places in Britain and Germany. Accordingly, she attended seven schools in the two countries, including Russell House School between the ages of five and seven, and St Hilary's between the ages of 11 and 13 (both in Sevenoaks, Kent), and from the ages of 13 to 17 her last school was Richmond County School for Girls in Surrey. Having expressed an interest in acting since the age of five, she applied to and was accepted by the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, but was asked to defer her entry for a year as she was considered to be too young. She spent the year gaining experience of the acting world by working backstage at the Comedy Theatre in central London and as an assistant stage manager at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.[2]

Television career[edit]

1978–1987[edit]

Ellis's first television appearance in 1978 was a small role in the BBC's children's programme Jackanory Playhouse, followed by a bit part in The Sweeney. Her big break came in 1979, when she landed the job of regular presenter of the Clive Doig-produced Jigsaw. Also that year she played the character of "Teka" in the Doctor Who story The Horns of Nimon. After four series in Jigsaw Ellis left to join Blue Peter on 28 April 1983. During her four year stint, she co-presented with Simon Groom, Sarah Greene, Peter Duncan, Michael Sundin, Mark Curry and Caron Keating. Her last show was on 29 June 1987.[1] It is commonly believed that Ellis was sacked from the programme for being unmarried and pregnant with son Jackson, but in recent years Ellis has stated that she was fully supported by the Blue Peter production team and the decision to leave the programme was her own.[3][4]

1988–1999[edit]

After leaving Blue Peter Ellis scaled back her presenting commitments in order to spend time bringing up her family. During this period she presented the BBC's Open Air programme, wrote a book entitled How to Get Married Without Divorcing Your Family with her friend and ex Blue Peter co-host Caron Keating in 1994, and provided voiceovers for numerous advertisements.

2000–present[edit]

Ellis returned to the TV screen in 2000. She played a TV reporter in an episode of the first full series of Waking the Dead in 2001. She has been appearing on the Channel 5 (then known as Five) show The Wright Stuff since 2002, and as a regular panellist since 2006. Her first major presenting job since Blue Peter was property show Housebusters between 2003 and 2005 on Five.[5] This was followed by the week-long documentary series Life Blood in 2004, also aired on Five, and the 2005 series of The Great Garden Challenge for Channel 4.

In January 2007, Ellis appeared on the BBC reality singing show Just the Two of Us partnered with Alexander O'Neal. Despite being 'saved' by Stewart Copeland on the first night, on 3 January 2007 she was the second celebrity to be eliminated, after judge CeCe Sammy described her as having the vocal characteristics of "a cat on speed". Ellis managed to show good humour in the face of the defeat, stating that she had had "fun, a lot of fun".[6]

In May 2008 she appeared naked in a magazine in support of PETA[7] and in June of the same year she won The Weakest Link Blue Peter celebrity charity special. She donated the winnings of £13,150 to Maggie's Centres, a cancer care charity.

She has also appeared in a 2009 episode of Hotel Babylon[2] and in December 2009 she narrated The Man Behind the Masquerade, a BBC documentary about Kit Williams.

In December 2010, Janet and her daughter Sophie appeared on Channel 4's The Million Pound Drop Live. Also shown on Channel 4 on 22 December 2010, Ellis competed in the Come Dine With Me celebrity Christmas special. The winner's prize of £1,000 was donated to charity. Ellis won, beating singer Tony Christie and actress Susie Amy into joint second place, with musician and actor Goldie bringing up the rear.

In January 2012 Ellis returned to her first love of acting by staging and starring in a production of Alan Bennett's comedy play Green Forms at the Tabard Theatre in Chiswick in order to raise money for Maggie's Centres.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Ellis met her first husband, TV director Robin Bextor, at the age of 16 and married him in 1977 when she was 21.[4] Their daughter Sophie was born in 1979. However, the couple separated during her time presenting Blue Peter. She met TV producer John Leach on the set of Blue Peter in 1986, and their son Jackson was born in 1987. After leaving Blue Peter Ellis married Leach and they had another child, daughter Martha-Rose, in 1991. Ellis has spoken publicly of the ten miscarriages she suffered while trying for a fourth child.[3] Away from the television Ellis is a frequent contributor to children's charity Scene & Heard.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Janet Ellis's profile on the BBC's Blue Peter web pages
  2. ^ a b c Swan, Yvonne (15 August 2009). "Me and my school photo: Janet Ellis remembers the upheaval of changing schools seven times". Daily Mail Weekend magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis tells of her TEN lost babies". Daily Mail. 27 January 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Bailey, Kerry. "Talking with Janet Ellis". OneUp e-zine. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Blue Peter star Janet TV return". Daily Mirror. 26 September 2003. 
  6. ^ BBC - Just The Two Of Us - Show Two Result
  7. ^ News of the World Fabulous magazine, issue 14, 4 May 2008
  8. ^ Cumber, Robert (12 January 2012). "Janet Ellis: I realised I don't mind upsetting people". Ealing Gazette (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 14 February 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sarah Greene
Blue Peter Presenter No. 13
1983-87
Succeeded by
Yvette Fielding