Jane Asher

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Jane Asher
Jane Asher Bristol Old Vic US tour 1967.JPG
Asher as Juliet when the Bristol Old Vic made a US tour in 1967
Born Jane Asher
(1946-04-05) 5 April 1946 (age 70)
Willesden, London, England
Occupation Actress, author, entrepreneur
Years active 1952–present
Spouse(s) Gerald Scarfe (m. 1981)
Children 3

Jane Asher (born 5 April 1946) is an English actress, author and entrepreneur, who achieved early fame as a child actress, and has worked extensively in film and TV throughout her career.

She has appeared in TV shows and films such as The Masque of the Red Death, Alfie, Deep End, The Mistress, Crossroads, Death at a Funeral and The Old Guys. She is also known for supplying specialist cakes and kitchenware, as well as publishing three best-selling novels. She was a key figure of 1960s show business society as well as a girlfriend and muse to Beatle Paul McCartney.[1]

Early life[edit]

Asher was the middle of three children born to Richard Alan John and Margaret Asher, née Eliot, in Willesden, North West London.[2] Her father was a consultant in blood and mental diseases at the Central Middlesex Hospital, as well as being a broadcaster and the author of notable medical articles. Asher's mother was a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Asher attended Queen's College in Harley Street, London[3] and is the elder sister of Clare Asher, a radio actress and school inspector. Asher's elder brother is record producer Peter Asher,[4] who was "Peter" of Peter and Gordon.

Acting career[edit]

Asher was a child actress and appeared in the 1952 film Mandy and the 1955 science fiction film The Quatermass Xperiment. She also played the title role in dramatised versions of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass in 1958 for Argo Records. In 1961 she co-starred in The Greengage Summer which was released in the United States as Loss of Innocence. She also appeared in the 1962 film and Disney TV programme, The Prince and the Pauper. British TV appearances included three episodes (1956–1958) of the ITV series The Adventures of Robin Hood and as a panelist on the BBC's Juke Box Jury.

Asher appeared in Roger Corman's The Masque of the Red Death (1964) with Vincent Price, in Alfie opposite Michael Caine in 1966, and in Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End (1970).

On television, she guest-starred in an episode of the British television comedy series The Goodies; The Stone Tape; Wicked Women; Rumpole of the Bailey; as Celia Ryder in the 1981 Granada Television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited; A Voyage Round My Father opposite Laurence Olivier; The Mistress (1985–87); and as Faith Ashley in Wish Me Luck (three seasons from 1987–89).

In 1994, she portrayed the Doctor Who companion Susan Foreman in a BBC Radio 4 comedy drama Whatever Happened to Susan Foreman? Another notable radio appearance was in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 2002, in the episode "The Peculiar Persecution of Mr John Vincent Harden".

In 2003, she appeared in the revived ITV soap, Crossroads where she played the hotel's owner, Angel Samson. After the soap was axed, Asher apologised to Crossroads fans for the way the 2003 series went.[5]

In 2004 she starred in Festen at the Arts Theatre. In 2005 she starred in The World's Biggest Diamond, by Gregory Motton, at the Royal Court Theatre. In 2006, Asher starred in the Richard Fell adaptation of the 1960s science fiction series A for Andromeda, which aired on the British digital television station BBC Four. In 2007, she portrayed the widow Sandra in the Frank Oz film Death at a Funeral. The same year Asher appeared in the BBC medical drama, Holby City as Lady Byrne. In October 2007, she played Andrea Yates in The Sarah Jane Adventures, in the episode "Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?" Asher co-starred in the 2008 ITV drama series The Palace, filmed in Lithuania; she played Queen Charlotte, mother of King Richard IV.

In August 2008, Asher appeared in the reality TV talent show-themed television series, Maestro, on BBC Two with other showbusiness personalities.[6][7] From 2009 to 2010, she played Sally in the BBC One comedy series The Old Guys. In 2011 she played Margaret Harker in Waterloo Road.

In October 2009, she appeared as Delia in Peter Hall's revival of Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce at the Rose Theatre, Kingston and in her first pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Richmond Theatre in December 2009, receiving enthusiastic reviews for both.[8][9] In 2011 she returned to the Rose, Kingston as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.

In 2012 she appeared in Charley's Aunt at the Menier Chocolate Factory. In the summer of 2013 she played Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. In 2014 she starred in the stage adaptation of Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger at the Theatre Royal Bath and on tour. In 2016 Asher took on the role of Miss Havisham in Michael Eaton's adaptation of Great Expectations.

Other work[edit]

Asher has written three best-selling novels: The Longing, The Question and Losing It, and published more than a dozen lifestyle, costuming, and cake decorating books. Asher owns a company that makes party cakes and sugar crafts for special occasions.[10] She also has her own brand of kitchenware that is being sold in Poundland shops in the UK [11] and also in Dealz in Ireland.[12]

She is a shareholder in Private Eye,[13] President of Arthritis Care,[14] Patron of Scoliosis Association (UK)[15] and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.[16]

She is also President of the National Autistic Society, in which she takes an active role.[17] She was a speaker at the 2006 launch of the National Autistic Society's "Make School Make Sense" campaign and is President of Parkinson's UK.[18] In March 2010, Asher became Vice President to Autistica, a UK charity raising funds for autism research.[19]

Personal life[edit]

On 18 April 1963, the 17-year-old Jane Asher interviewed the Beatles[20] at Royal Albert Hall in London, England and began a five-year relationship with Paul McCartney. In December 1963, McCartney took up residence at Asher's family Wimpole Street town house and stayed there until the couple moved into McCartney's own home located in St John's Wood in 1966. McCartney wrote several Beatles songs inspired by her, including "And I Love Her", "You Won't See Me", "I'm Looking Through You", and "Here, There and Everywhere". McCartney and Asher announced on Christmas Day 1967 that they were engaged to marry, and in February and March 1968 Asher accompanied the Beatles and their respective partners to Rishikesh to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation training session with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In mid-1968, Asher returned to London from an acting assignment in Bristol earlier than expected and caught McCartney in bed with Francie Schwartz. A fan who frequently hung around Paul's Cavendish Avenue home claims to have witnessed the incident, saying "...Paul brought this American girl home...[and a little while later]...another car turned into Cavendish Avenue — it was Jane. She'd come back...earlier than she was supposed to. Jane went into the house. A bit later on she came storming out again and drove away." Shortly after, Margaret Asher drove to Cavendish to collect her daughter's things.[21]

On 20 July 1968, Asher announced publicly to the BBC that her engagement to McCartney had been called off, an announcement that shocked many people, including McCartney himself. At the time of Asher's announcement, McCartney was at his father's home with Schwartz by his side. McCartney, who had not been formally broken up with before the announcement, had been publicly dumped on television. Though Schwartz has confirmed that Asher did see them in bed together, she claims that she was not the sole reason for the breakup, and that the couple were on the verge of breaking up prior to Asher walking in. Other people, such as Hunter Davies and Barry Miles, state that the relationship always had major problems, one of those being that McCartney wanted Asher to give up her career after they married, an aspiration of his that Asher would not comply with. Another prevalent problem in the relationship was McCartney's drug use and womanizing. After returning to London from a five-month acting tour of the United States in May 1967, Asher found McCartney to be completely different, confiding in Davies that McCartney had "changed so much. He was on LSD, which I hadn't shared. I was jealous of all the spiritual experiences he'd had with John. There were fifteen people dropping in all day long. The house had changed and was full of stuff I didn't know about."[22]

Since the breakup, Asher has never spoken about her relationship with McCartney. Being asked about it irritates her, as she stated in 2004: "I've been happily married for 30-something years. It's insulting."[23] She did attend the London premiere of the Beatles' last movie Let it Be along with Lennon's ex-wife Cynthia, though none of the Beatles were in attendance.[24]

Asher met the illustrator Gerald Scarfe in 1971. Their daughter Katie was born in 1974. They married in 1981 and they had two more children, sons Alexander (born 1981) and Rory (born 1983).[25]

In 1969, her father, Richard, committed suicide at the age of 57. Her mother, Margaret, died in 2011 at the age of 97.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1952 Mandy Nina Roads
1955 The Quatermass Xperiment Little Girl
1956 Charley Moon Benesta
1961 The Greengage Summer Hester Grey
1963 Girl in the Headlines Lindy Birkett Released as The Model Murder Case in USA
1964 The Masque of the Red Death Francesca
1966 Alfie Annie
1967 The Winter's Tale Perdita
1970 Deep End Susan
The Buttercup Chain Margaret
1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives Jane Seymour
1983 Runners Helen
1984 Success Is the Best Revenge Bank Manager
1985 Dreamchild Mrs. Liddell
1988 Paris by Night Pauline
1993 Closing Numbers Anna
2006 Tirant lo Blanc Empress of Visantia
2007 Death at a Funeral Sandra
2013 I Give It a Year Diana
2015 Drunk on Love Miss Sharp

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1961 Home Tonight Kathy 5 episodes
1962 The Prince and the Pauper Lady Jane Grey 3 episodes
1972 The Stone Tape Jill Greely TV movie
1978 Hawkmoor Lady Johane Williams 5 episodes
1978 Rumpole of the Bailey Kathy Trelayne Episode: "Rumpole and the Alternative Society"
1981 Brideshead Revisited Celia Ryder 2 episodes
1984 A Voyage Round My Father Elizabeth TV movie
1985 The Mistress Helen Carpenter 6 episodes
1990 Wish Me Luck Faith Ashley 22 episodes
2003 Crossroads Angel Samson 18 episodes
2004 Agatha Christie's Marple Mrs. Lester Episode: "Murder at the Vicarage"
2006 A for Andromeda Professor Madeleine Dawnay TV movie
2007 The Sarah Jane Adventures Andrea Yates 2 episodes
2007-10 Holby City Lady Byrne 23 episodes
2008 The Palace Queen Charlotte 8 episodes
2009-10 The Old Guys Sally 12 episodes
2010 Agatha Christie's Poirot Lady Mary Episode: "Three Act Tragedy"
2015 Stella Hazel 3 episodes
2015-16 Eve Mary Douglas 13 episodes

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Paul McCartney's "Loving" muse". CBS News. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  2. ^ GRO Register of Births: June 1946 3a 765 Willeden, mmn = Eliot
  3. ^ Harry, Bill (2000) [1992]. The Beatles Encyclopaedia (paperback ed.). London: Virgin Publishing. p. 403. ISBN 0-7535-0481-2. 
  4. ^ Scarfe, Gerald (2010). The Making of Pink Floyd The Wall. Da Capo Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-306-81997-1. 
  5. ^ "Crossroads History-Carlton Remakes 2000s". Crossroads Application Society. 
  6. ^ "Maestro - Episodes - Band Camp". BBC. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "Eight passionate amateurs bid to become BBC Two's Maestro" (Press release). BBC. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2008. 
  8. ^ Mountford, Fiona (16 October 2009). "Bedroom Farce and Miss Julie see Rose in bloom". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "Theatre review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Richmond Theatre, Surrey". Britishtheatreguide.info. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Mitchison, Amanda (3 October 2005). "Butter wouldn't melt". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007. 
  11. ^ "Jane Asher's Kitchen Poundland". 
  12. ^ "Jane Asher's Kitchen Dealz". Archived from the original on 26 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "Peter Cook: Comedian, 1937 - 1995". h2g2. Retrieved 2 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Patron and President". Arthritis Care. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  15. ^ "Jane Asher". Scoliosis Association (UK). 26 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "Distinguished supporters". British Humanist Association. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011. 
  17. ^ "President". The National Autistic Society. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  18. ^ "Jane Asher, President". Parkinson's UK. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  19. ^ "Jane Asher becomes an Autistica Vice President" (PDF) (Press release). Autistica. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011. 
  20. ^ Miles. p102.
  21. ^ Norman, Philip (1981). The True Story of The Beatles. Long Acre, London: Hamish Hamilton. p. 400. ISBN 0-241-10300-2. 
  22. ^ "Jane Asher". The Beatles Bible. 
  23. ^ Thomas, David (19 August 2004). "The darkness behind the smile". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  24. ^ http://www.beatlesbible.com/1970/05/20/uk-premiere-of-let-it-be/
  25. ^ http://www.thepeerage.com/p18050.htm#i180491

References[edit]

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