Jan Ravens

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Jan Ravens
Born Janet Ravens
(1958-05-14) 14 May 1958 (age 60)
Bebington, Wirral, England, United Kingdom
Alma mater Homerton College, Cambridge
Occupation Actress
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) Steve Brown (m. 1983; div. 1993)
Max Hole (1999–present)
Children 3

Janet "Jan" Ravens (born 14 May 1958) is an English actress and impressionist, best known for her voices on Spitting Image and Dead Ringers.

Early life[edit]

She grew up in Hoylake, then in Cheshire, on the west side of the Wirral with her father a local government clerk and her mother a nurse. She attended the West Kirby Grammar School for Girls, where Radio 4 presenter Sheila McClennon (You and Yours) was two years below her. She was educated at Homerton College, Cambridge where she studied education studies and drama[1] and was the first female president of Cambridge University Footlights Club[2] in 1979–80.


After Cambridge she became a radio comedy producer. Her first television role was in the ITV series, 'Just Amazing'. She joined the cast of Jasper Carrott's comedy Carrott's Lib in 1983. In 1986, she played the heavily pregnant Vanessa Plowright in the "Tourists" episode of Farrington of the F.O. (broadcast 13 March). In 1994, she spent a year with the RSC. She has done much voice-over work, being the Cadbury's Caramel bunny for several years, and as the seductive voice of a can of apple Tango. She has also appeared on Just A Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on Radio 4, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Have I Got News for You, No Frills, Alexei Sayle's Stuff[2] and in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4's Countdown (one of the shows parodied on Dead Ringers). She was producer of the Radio 4 comedy Elephants to Catch Eels.


People she has regularly imitated (past and present) include Newsnight host Kirsty Wark, Charlotte Green formerly of BBC Radio 4 (with many double entendres), Ellen MacArthur (who regularly bursts into tears), Nigella Lawson (with double entendres), Ann Widdecombe (narrating fanciful racy storylines in her novels), Patricia Routledge's Hyacinth Bucket, Queen Elizabeth II, a chirpy Sandi Toksvig, a stern-faced Gillian McKeith, Sophie Raworth (with a bemused school-girl grin) and Fiona Bruce (with barely concealed filthy invitations) of BBC News, Anne Robinson of The Weakest Link, Lesley Garrett (often referring to her generous cleavage), Hillary Clinton, Theresa May and the Geordie-accented Ruth Archer, from BBC Radio 4 soap The Archers.

Other television[edit]

Ravens appeared in a series 3 episode (entitled "Monday Morning will be Fine") of David Renwick's series One Foot in the Grave as Pat Aylesbury, one of Meldrew's neighbours to whom he turns to after being burgled.

From 1996 till 2001 she played Janet Grimley, the mother in The Grimleys, a nostalgic sitcom set in '70s Dudley.

In autumn 2006, Ravens appeared on the popular BBC entertainment programme Strictly Come Dancing partnered with Anton du Beke. She reached the fifth week of the competition, when she was knocked out.

In spring 2007, she appeared on the BBC's The Truth About Food, exploring different foods and how they affect behaviour. Also in 2007, she appeared in Ronni Ancona's comedy sketch show, Ronni Ancona & Co.

She won the edition of Celebrity Mastermind on 1 January 2008, making her the first woman to win the programme. She also appeared as Effy's art teacher in E4 drama Skins.

In February 2010 and November 2017, she was a panellist on QI, and in 2012 appeared as Susan in the sitcom Hebburn.

Personal life[edit]

Her first husband was Steve Brown but the couple divorced in 1993 and she subsequently married the vice-president of Universal Music Group, Max Hole, in July 1999 in Richmond upon Thames. She lives in Barnes. She has three sons: Alfie and Lenny by her first husband, born in April 1987 and January 1991, and Louis by her second, born in June 1998.

She is an ambassador for the charity ActionAid and has visited Kenya with the organisation, and raised money for it on Celebrity Mastermind.[3]


External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Audio clips[edit]

Video clips[edit]