Jane Asher is well known in the UK for her acting, writing and business ventures.
She has acted since she was 5 years old, when she made a small appearance in the film Mandy. She worked steadily throughout her childhood and teens, appearing in films such The Quatermass Experiment, Charley Moon, The Prince & The Pauper and the iconic The Greengage Summer (known as Loss of Innocence in the US) with Susannah York and Kenneth More. As well as working in films, she also made many television dramas, appearing in productions such as The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Wednesday Play, The Buccaneers and The Renegade and acted in many radio plays. She also, at the age of twelve, made the first ever stereo spoken word recordings, of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – classic discs, still available today as MP3 downloads!
Jane successfully made the transition from being a child star to an adult actress, continuing to appear in films – including the original Michael Caine version of Alfie, the cult hit Deep End, and the equally iconic The Masque of the Red Death, directed by Roger Corman and starring Vincent Price. On television she worked in countless productions, such as Brideshead Revisited, The Choir, Runners, Wish Me Luck and Closing Numbers.
Beginning at the age of 12 at the Frinton Summer Theatre in Housemaster, she also built a strong reputation as a stage actress, working in the West End and The National Theatre many times and on Broadway. She starred in productions such as Look Back in Anger, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, The School For Scandal, Henceforward, and even played Peter Pan in the West End, having already played the youngest ever Wendy in an earlier production at the age of 15. Jane has been a great favourite of the playwright Alan Ayckbourn, appearing in a number of his plays over the years.
Jane has continued to have a hugely successful career as an actress on stage, screen and radio. She recently played an acclaimed Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, and appeared in Stephen Poliakoff’s successful television serial Dancing on the Edge for BBC2. Other recent TV appearances include playing Queen Charlotte in the eight part drama series for ITV, The Palace, and co-starring in the BBC situation comedy series The Old Guys. She was also, for several years, a semi-regular character, Lady Byrne, in BBC’s Holby City.
Her most recent appearances were in the romantic comedy feature film, I Give It a Year, and on stage at the Menier Chocolate Factory in the acclaimed production of Charley’s Aunt.
She has written three best-selling novels, The Longing, The Question, and Losing It. She has also written over two dozen non-fiction titles, including the original 1982 classic Jane Asher Party Cakes. Her most recent cake books were Cakes for Fun and Beautiful Baking. She also presented four series of her own highly successful BBC programme, Good Living, which had two accompanying books.
Jane developed an interest in writing and business during the period that she kept close to home while bringing up her children. When she first began making novelty cakes, at first just for fun for her children’s birthdays and other special occasions, friends kept asking her where they could be bought or where they could learn how to make the cakes themselves. This eventually led to Jane writing her first cake decorating book and subsequently opening her Chelsea shop. She constantly strove to keep the business up to date as technology developed during the early 1990s – she had a web site during the very embryonic days of the internet – and has constantly refreshed and adapted both the shop and the web site to reflect the changing times. Her on-line sales started slowly, but have since grown to become a very important part of her business.
Jane became a consultant for Sainsbury’s when they began to develop their own novelty cake section, and also worked for McVitie’s as a spokesperson for a number of years. She produced a range of cookware for Debenhams and Matalan, and developed The Jane Asher brand of goods. Jane has some exciting cookery kits marketed under her brand in the Kitchencraft Sweetly Does It range, and some very successful cake-mixes, which are currently being updated and produced by Symington’s. She has recently began a collaboration with the Poundland chain of stores as their first celebrity designer, and has produced a wonderful range of baking goods for them.
Jane has worked in the voluntary sector for many years and her charity work is much respected. She is President of the National Autistic Society, of Arthritis Care, and of Parkinson’s UK. She is a Vice-President of Autistica and patron of several other charities, including Research Autism, Bowel Cancer UK and the Scoliosis Association. She is also an Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust. In past years she has been a Governor of the Geffrye Museum and of the Molecule Theatre of Science, a member of the Council of WWF UK (later appointed to the Board of Trustees and the conservation committee); a member of the BBC General Advisory Council and of its steering committee, and a Trustee of BBC Children in Need and Chairman of the Central Committee.
Jane is a member of BAFTA and of FORUM UK, an associate of RADA and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In July 2001 Jane received an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Bristol University in recognition of her work with autism. She is married to the artist Gerald Scarfe and they have three grown up children, Katie, Alexander and Rory.
In the spring Jane completed a national tour in the stage adaptation of Penelope Lively’s Booker Prize winning novel, Moon Tiger, adapted for the stage by Simon Reade. She has recently finished filming the new BBC comedy written by and starring Matt Lucas, called Pompidou. Jane is currently working on a new series for C-BBC, Eve.
Jane’s range of baking products designed exclusively for Poundland is widely available at Poundland stores nationwide.