Jan Francis

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Jan Francis
Born Janet Stephanie Francis
(1947-08-05) 5 August 1947 (age 69)
Westminster, London, England[1]
Spouse(s) Martin Thurley (1 August 1977 to date)
Children two daughters

Jan Francis (born 5 August 1947) is an English actress, best known for playing Penny Warrender in the 1980s romantic comedy Just Good Friends.

Early life[edit]

Francis was born at the former Charing Cross Hospital near Trafalgar Square, London. She is the eldest child of Frank Francis, a clerical officer with the Agricultural Society, and Marjorie (née Watling), an employment agent, who were married in 1944.[2] She was raised in Streatham and was educated at the Lady Edridge Grammar School.

After training as a dancer at the Royal Ballet Senior School from which she graduated in 1965, Francis performed with the Royal Ballet Touring Company in Britain, in the rest of Europe and the United States. She left the Royal Ballet in September 1969 to pursue an acting career.


She made the transfer to becoming an actress through choreography, and performed with the Cheltenham Repertory Company between 1969 and 1970. She first appeared on television in 1971, before landing BBC Television drama roles including Kschessinska in Fall of Eagles and Lisa Colbert in Secret Army (1977–78).

In 1979 she starred in Dracula as Mina Van Helsing, opposite Laurence Olivier as Abraham Van Helsing.

She played the part of Susie Dean in Alan Plater's adaptation of the J. B. Priestley novel The Good Companions (1980) which was produced by Yorkshire Television. Writer John Sullivan met Francis and later created her best-known part - Penny Warrender in the 1980s BBC sitcom Just Good Friends.

She later played Nick's "old enough to be his mother" girlfriend in the sitcom My Family, and co-starred with Dennis Waterman as Sally Hardcastle in the 1989–1992 ITV drama series Stay Lucky.

During the late 80s – early 90s she starred in the Lloyds Bank television commercials alongside Nigel Havers.

In 2006, she guest-starred in ITV1 prison drama Bad Girls as interior designer Catherine Earlham, who was sent to Larkhall on remand for embezzlement. the character played a key role in the exit storyline for fellow inmate Darlene Cake (played by Antonia Okonma). She is also a regular performer (and part of the original cast) of the touring play Seven Deadly Sins Four Deadly Sinners.

In 2009, she appeared as Julia in the second series of Mistresses on BBC1. In November 2009, she starred in the ITV1 drama Collision (2010). She is currently[when?] playing the love interest of Rodney Blackstock (Patrick Mower) in ITV1 soap Emmerdale.

In April 2014, she made a guest appearance as a patient in the BBC1 hospital drama series Casualty.

Personal life[edit]

She married the actor-writer Martin Thurley in Newton Abbot on 1 August 1977. They have two daughters Josephine (born 1982) and Anna (born 1988) and reside in Woodchurch, Kent.




  • At The Garden – including Swan Lake Act II (BBC 1968) ... as a Cygnet
  • The Ken Dodd Show (LWT 1969) ... Sketches
  • Ballet For All – No 3 (of 7) (Thames 1970) ... as Swanhilda
  • The Fenn Street Gang – Series 1, Episode 12 (of 21) (LWT 1970) ... as Shirley Matthews
  • Anne of Green Gables (BBC 1972) ... as Diana Barry
  • Swiss Cottage (BBC 1972) ... as Stephanie
  • The Long Chase (BBC 1972) ... as Susan Fraser
  • The Magistrate (BBC 1972) ... as Popham
  • Country Matters – Series 2, Episode 7 (of 7): The Four Beauties (Granada 1973) ... as Sophie Davenport
  • Thriller – Episode 8 (of 43): File It Under Fear (ATV 1973) ... as Gillie Randall
  • Doctor in Charge – Series 2, Episode 9 (of 13): The Pool (LWT 1973) ... as Diana
  • Hawkeye The Pathfinder (BBC 1973) ... as Mabel Dunham (Magnet)
  • Play for Today: The Lonely Man's Lover (BBC 1974) ... as Lizzie
  • Fall of Eagles – Episode 5 (of 13): The Last Tsar (BBC 1974) ... as Kschessinska
  • Rooms: "Jan & Tony" (Parts 1 & 2) (First 2 episodes of 127) (Thames 1974) ... as Jan
  • Secret Army (BBC 1977-8) ... as Lisa Colbert ("Yvette")
  • "Casting the Runes" (ITV, 1979): an adaptation of the story by M. R. James ...as Prudence
  • Just Good Friends: (BBC 1983–86) 22 episodes & Christmas special ... as Penny Warrender
  • Minder - Life in the Fast Food Lane - Series 6, episode 2, as Sarah Bates (1985)
  • Stay Lucky 1989 - 1992.
  • Under the Hammer (BBC, 1994) 7 episodes ... as Maggie Perowne[3]
  • "The Ghostbusters of East Finchley" (BBC, 1995) 2 episodes... as Grace
  • Jeremy Hardy Gives Good Sex (video 1995)
  • Sunburn ... 6 episodes[4]
  • The Invisibles (2008) ... 1 episode
  • Mistresses (BBC 2009) ... 2 episodes
  • Collision (BBC 2009) ... 4 episodes
  • Emmerdale (ITV 2010) ... 3 episodes
  • My Family (BBC) ... 1 episode
  • I Want My Wife Back (BBC 2016) as Paula


  • The Sleeping Beauty (1969) ... Royal Ballet (1969)
  • The Farmer's Wife (1969) ... Cheltenham Repertory Company, as Susan Maine
  • Sleeping Beauty (1969–1970) ... Pantomime, as Fairy Dreamawhile
  • The Boyfriend (1970) ... as Maisie (& Lolita)
  • When Did You Last See My Mother (1970) ... at The Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court, as Linda
  • Cinderella (1970) ... at the Manchester Opera House
  • Play It Again Sam (1971) ... at the New Theatre, Bromley as one of Barbara and the Dream Girls
  • The Heiress (1971) ... as Marian Almond
  • Romance! (1971) ... at the Duke of York's Theatre, London as Lotte
  • Out of Bounds (1973) ... Bristol Old Vic Company as Ermyntrude Johnson
  • Lend Me A Tenor (1986) ... at the Globe Theatre, London as Maggie
  • Hay Fever (1988) ... at the Chichester Festival Theatre as Myra Arundel
  • 'Dear Ralph' A Valentine's Day Gala (1993) ... at the London Palladium as a Host for the Evening
  • Seven Deadly Sins Four Deadly Sinners (2004–2008) ... at various theatres on tour
  • An Evening at Le Candide (2006) ... at the King's Head Theatre, London


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  3. ^ IMDB citation
  4. ^ IMDB citation

External links[edit]