Jane Asher

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Jane Asher
Asher in 2008
Born (1946-04-05) 5 April 1946 (age 75)
  • Actress
  • author
  • entrepreneur
Years active1952–present
(m. 1981)
Partner(s)Paul McCartney (1963–1968)

Jane Asher (born 5 April 1946)[1] is an English actress, author and entrepreneur. She achieved early fame as a child actress and has worked extensively in film and TV throughout her career.

Asher has appeared in TV shows and films such as Deep End,[2] The Masque of the Red Death, Alfie, The Mistress, Crossroads, Death at a Funeral, and The Old Guys. She has also appeared in two episodes of the 1950s TV series 'The Buccaneers' alongside Robert Shaw. She is also known for supplying specialist cakes and kitchenware, and publishing three best-selling novels. She was a key figure of 1960s UK entertainment and arts culture and was well known as the girlfriend and muse of Beatle Paul McCartney.[3]

Early life[edit]

Asher was born in London, the middle of three children born to Richard and Margaret Asher, née Eliot.[1] 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 was educated at North Bridge House School and Miss Lambert's PNEU School for Girls at Paddington, then at Queen's College in Harley Street, London.[1][4] Asher's elder brother is record producer and manager Peter Asher,[5] who started his career as Peter of Peter and Gordon. Her family is of Jewish background.[6]

Acting career[edit]

Asher was a child actress who 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 as Juliet when the Bristol Old Vic made a US tour in 1967

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) with John Moulder Brown.

Having played Alice herself as an 11-year-old child in the audio recordings of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in 1958, Asher played the real Alice's (Alice Liddell) mother, Mrs. Lorina Liddell in the 1985 Dennis Potter film "Dreamchild" along side Coral Browne (Alice Hargreaves) Ian Holm (Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson) Peter Gallagher, and Amelia Shankley (young Alice)

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 broadcast 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 Sampson. After the soap was axed, Asher apologised to Crossroads fans for the way the 2003 series went.[7]

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.[8][9] 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.[10][11] 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. She took on the role of Madame Baurel in the 2017 London stage production of "An American in Paris (musical)".

Other work[edit]

Asher has written three novels: The Longing, The Question, and Losing It, and published more than a dozen[quantify] lifestyle, costuming, and cake decorating books. Asher owns a company that makes party cakes and sugar crafts for special occasions.[12] She also has her own brand of kitchenware that is being sold in Home Bargains shops in the UK[13] and also in Dealz in Ireland.[14]

She is a shareholder in Private Eye,[15] president of Arthritis Care,[16] and a patron of Scoliosis Association (UK).[17]

She is also president of the National Autistic Society, in which she takes an active role.[18] 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.[19] In March 2010, Asher became vice president to Autistica, a UK charity raising funds for autism research.[20] Asher is also a patron of TRACKS Autism, an early years nursery setting for children on the autistic spectrum[21] and The Daisy Garland,[22] a national registered charity supporting children with drug resistant epilepsy.

Personal life[edit]

On 18 April 1963, the 17-year-old Asher interviewed the Beatles[23] at the 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", “What You’re Doing”, and "We Can Work It Out". McCartney and Asher announced on Christmas Day 1967 that they were engaged to be married, 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 discovered McCartney in bed with Francie Schwartz. A fan who frequently loitered 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 Avenue to collect her daughter's things.[24]

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. Though Schwartz 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 separating prior to Asher's walking in. Authors Hunter Davies and Barry Miles state that the relationship always had several problems, one of them being that McCartney wanted Asher to give up her acting career after they married, which Asher refused to do. Another prevalent problem in the relationship was McCartney's drug use and frequent womanising. 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."[25]

Asher attended the 1970 London premiere of the Beatles' last movie, Let It Be, along with John Lennon's former wife Cynthia, though the former Beatles did not attend.[26]

Asher dislikes discussing or being asked about her relationship with McCartney. She stated in 2004: "I've been happily married for 30-something years. It's insulting."[27]

In 1971, she met the illustrator Gerald Scarfe.[28] They married in 1981 and have three children.[29]



Year Title Role Notes Ref
1952 Mandy Nina Roads [30]
1955 The Quatermass Xperiment Little Girl [30]
1956 Charley Moon Benesta [31]
1961 The Greengage Summer Hester Grey Released as The Loss of Innocence in the U.S. [30]
1963 Girl in the Headlines Lindy Birkett Released as The Model Murder Case in the U.S. [30]
1964 The Masque of the Red Death Francesca [30]
1966 Alfie Annie [30]
1967 The Winter's Tale Perdita [30]
1970 Deep End Susan [30]
The Buttercup Chain Margaret [30]
1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives Jane Seymour [30]
1983 Runners Helen [30]
1984 Success Is the Best Revenge Bank Manager [30]
1985 Dreamchild Mrs. Liddell [30]
1988 Paris by Night Pauline [30]
1993 Closing Numbers Anna [30]
2006 Tirant lo Blanc Empress of Visaantia [32]
2007 Death at a Funeral Sandra [30]
2013 I Give It a Year Diana [33]
2015 Drunk on Love Miss Sharp [30]


Year Title Role Notes Ref
1961 Home Tonight Kathy 5 episodes
1962 The Prince and the Pauper Lady Jane Grey 3 episodes [30]
1964 The Saint Rose Yearley Episode: "The Noble Sportsman"
1964 The Saint Ellen Chase Episode: "The Invisible Millionaire"
1968 Journey to the Unknown Marielle Episode: "Somewhere in the Crowd"
1972 The Stone Tape Jill Greely TV movie
Hedda Gabler Thea Elvsted TV movie
1973 Wessex Tales Lucy Saville Episode: "Fellow Townsmen"
1977 The Goodies Caroline Kook Episode: "Punky Business"
1978 Hawkmoor Lady Johane Williams 5 episodes
Hazell Georgina Gunning Episode: "Hazell Plays Solomon"
Rumpole of the Bailey Kathy Trelawny Episode: "Rumpole and the Alternative Society"
1981 Brideshead Revisited Celia Ryder 2 episodes
1982 East Lynne Emma Vane TV movie
1984 A Voyage Round My Father Elizabeth TV movie
Tales of the Unexpected (TV series) Jane Oats Episode: "The Last of the Midnight Gardeners"
1985 The Mistress Helen Carpenter 6 episodes
1988 Wish Me Luck Faith Ashley 22 episodes
1990 French and Saunders Herself Episode: “Episode 7”
1993 French and Saunders Herself Episode: “In Bed with French and Saunders”
2003 Crossroads Angel Sampson 18 episodes
2004 Agatha Christie's Marple Mrs. Sylvia Lester Episode: "Murder at the Vicarage"
2005 New Tricks Lady Deeley Episode: "17 Years of Nothing"
2006 A for Andromeda Professor Madeleine Dawnay TV movie
2007 The Sarah Jane Adventures Andrea Yates 2 episodes; Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?
2007–2010 Holby City Lady Byrne 23 episodes
2008 The Palace Queen Charlotte 8 episodes
2009–2010 The Old Guys Sally 12 episodes
2010 Agatha Christie's Poirot Lady Mary Episode: "Three Act Tragedy"
2015 Stella Hazel 3 episodes
2015–2016 Eve Mary Douglas 13 episodes
2015–2016 Best Bakes Ever Herself Presenter: 24 episodes

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1971 British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Deep End Nominated
1983 British Academy Television Awards Best Actress A Voyage Round My Father Nominated
2007 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Supporting Actress Death at a Funeral Nominated
2018 National Film Awards UK Best Supporting Actress Brian Pern: A Tribute Won


  1. ^ a b c The International Who's Who of Women, 3rd edition, ed. Elizabeth Sleeman, Europa Publications, 2002, p. 29
  2. ^ Deep End at IMDb
  3. ^ Crandall, Bill (29 January 2014). "Paul McCartney's 'Loving' muse". CBS News. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  4. ^ Harry, Bill (2000) [1992]. The Beatles Encyclopaedia (paperback ed.). London: Virgin Publishing. p. 403. ISBN 978-0-7535-0481-9.
  5. ^ Scarfe, Gerald (2010). The Making of Pink Floyd The Wall. Da Capo Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-306-81997-1.
  6. ^ Yaffe, David (25 October 2013). "Paul McCartney's 'NEW': The Jew-ish Beatle's Bar Mitzvah Album". Tabletmag. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Crossroads History-Carlton Remakes 2000s". Crossroads Application Society. Archived from the original on 29 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Maestro - Episodes - Band Camp". BBC. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Eight passionate amateurs bid to become BBC Two's Maestro" (Press release). BBC. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
  10. ^ Mountford, Fiona (16 October 2009). "Bedroom Farce and Miss Julie see Rose in bloom". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Theatre review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Richmond Theatre, Surrey". Britishtheatreguide.info. Archived from the original on 18 November 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  12. ^ Mitchison, Amanda (3 October 2005). "Butter wouldn't melt". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  13. ^ "Jane Asher's Kitchen Poundland". Poundland.co.uk. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Jane Asher's Kitchen Dealz". Archived from the original on 26 April 2014.
  15. ^ "Peter Cook: Comedian, 1937 - 1995". h2g2. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  16. ^ "Patron and President". Arthritis Care. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Jane Asher". Scoliosis Association (UK). 26 March 2014. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015.
  18. ^ "President". The National Autistic Society. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  19. ^ "Jane Asher, President". Parkinson's UK. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  20. ^ "Jane Asher becomes an Autistica Vice President" (PDF) (Press release). Autistica. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  21. ^ "Patrons of TRACKS Autism". TRACKS Autism. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Our patrons". The Daisy Garland. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  23. ^ Miles. p102.
  24. ^ Norman, Philip (1981). The True Story of The Beatles. Long Acre, London: Hamish Hamilton. p. 400. ISBN 978-0-241-10300-5.
  25. ^ "Jane Asher". The Beatles Bible. 22 May 2008.
  26. ^ "UK première of Let It Be". The Beatles Bible. 20 May 1970.
  27. ^ Thomas, David (19 August 2004). "The darkness behind the smile". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  28. ^ "My Secret Life: Jane Asher, actress & cook". The Independent. 18 September 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  29. ^ Curtis, Nick (20 September 2017). "Gerald Scarfe: Politicians would rather be drawn as slavering warthogs". www.standard.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Jane Asher at AllMovie
  31. ^ Charley Moon at the British Film Institute
  32. ^ Variety Staff (16 May 2006). "Tirant Lo Blanc: The Maidens' Conspiracy". Variety. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  33. ^ Felperin, Leslie (26 January 2013). "I Give It a Year". Variety. Retrieved 3 April 2018.

Other sources

Further reading[edit]

  • Asher, Jane (1998). The Question. BCA. ISBN 978-0007349623.
  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 7.

External links[edit]