Jane Asher

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.

Jane Asher
Asher in 2008
Born (1946-04-05) 5 April 1946
OccupationActress, author, entrepreneur
Years active1952–present
Gerald Scarfe (m. 1981)

Asher has appeared in TV shows and films such as Deep End,[1] The Masque of the Red Death, Alfie, The Mistress, Crossroads, Death at a Funeral, and The Old Guys. 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 to Beatle Paul McCartney.[2]

Early life

Asher was the middle of three children born to Richard and Margaret Asher, née Eliot, in Willesden, Middlesex.[3] 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[4] and is the elder sister of Clare Asher, a radio actress and school inspector. Asher's elder brother is record producer and manager Peter Asher,[5] who started his career as Peter of Peter and Gordon.

Acting career

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 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.

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 Samson. After the soap was axed, Asher apologised to Crossroads fans for the way the 2003 series went.[6]

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.[7][8] 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.[9][10] 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

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.[11] She also has her own brand of kitchenware that is being sold in Poundland shops in the UK [12] and also in Dealz in Ireland.[13]

She is a shareholder in Private Eye,[14] president of Arthritis Care,[15] and a patron of Scoliosis Association (UK).[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] Asher is also a patron of TRACKS Autism, an early years nursery setting for children on the autistic spectrum [20] and The Daisy Garland, a national registered charity supporting children with drug resistant epilepsy.

Personal life

On 18 April 1963, the 17-year-old Asher interviewed the Beatles[21] 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", "We Can Work It Out", 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 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.[22]

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 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."[23]

Asher attended the 1970 London premiere of the Beatles' last movie Let It Be along with John Lennon's former wife Cynthia, though none of the former Beatles was in attendance.[24] In 1971, she met the illustrator Gerald Scarfe. 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]

Asher dislikes discussing or being asked about her relationship with McCartney; as she stated in 2004: "I've been happily married for 30-something years. It's insulting."[26]



1952MandyNina Roads[27]
1955The Quatermass XperimentLittle Girl[27]
1956Charley MoonBenesta[28]
1961The Greengage SummerHester GreyReleased as The Loss of Innocence in the U.S.[27]
1963Girl in the HeadlinesLindy BirkettReleased as The Model Murder Case in the U.S.[27]
1964The Masque of the Red DeathFrancesca[27]
1967The Winter's TalePerdita[27]
1970 Deep EndSusan[27]
The Buttercup ChainMargaret[27]
1972Henry VIII and His Six WivesJane Seymour[27]
1984Success Is the Best RevengeBank Manager[27]
1985DreamchildMrs. Liddell[27]
1988Paris by NightPauline[27]
1993Closing NumbersAnna[27]
2006Tirant lo BlancEmpress of Visaantia[29]
2007Death at a Funeral Sandra[27]
2013I Give It a YearDiana[30]
2015Drunk on LoveMiss Sharp[27]


1961Home TonightKathy5 episodes
1962The Prince and the PauperLady Jane Grey3 episodes[27]
1963The SaintEllen ChaseEpisode: "The Invisible Millionaire"
1968Journey to the UnknownMarielleEpisode: "Somewhere in the Crowd"
1972The Stone TapeJill GreelyTV movie
Hedda GablerThea ElvstedTV movie
1973Wessex TalesLucy SavilleEpisode: "Fellow Townsmen"
1978HawkmoorLady Johane Williams5 episodes
HazellGeorgina GunningEpisode: "Hazell Plays Solomon"
Rumpole of the BaileyKathy TrelayneEpisode: "Rumpole and the Alternative Society"
1981Brideshead RevisitedCelia Ryder2 episodes
1982East LynneEmma VaneTV movie
1984A Voyage Round My FatherElizabethTV movie
Tales of the Unexpected (TV series)Jane OatsEpisode: "The Last of the Midnight Gardeners"
1985The MistressHelen Carpenter6 episodes
1988Wish Me LuckFaith Ashley22 episodes
1990French and SaundersHerselfEpisode: “Episode 7”
1993French and SaundersHerselfEpisode: “In Bed with French and Saunders”
2003CrossroadsAngel Samson18 episodes
2004Agatha Christie's MarpleMrs. Sylvia LesterEpisode: "Murder at the Vicarage"
2006A for AndromedaProfessor Madeleine DawnayTV movie
2007The Sarah Jane AdventuresAndrea Yates2 episodes: "Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?"
2007–10Holby CityLady Byrne23 episodes
2008The PalaceQueen Charlotte8 episodes
2009–10The Old GuysSally12 episodes
2010Agatha Christie's PoirotLady MaryEpisode: "Three Act Tragedy"
2015StellaHazel3 episodes
2015–16EveMary Douglas13 episodes


  1. Deep End on IMDb
  2. Crandall, Bill (29 January 2014). "Paul McCartney's 'Loving' muse". CBS News. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  3. GRO Register of Births: June 1946 3a 765 Willeden, mmn = Eliot
  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. "Crossroads History-Carlton Remakes 2000s". Crossroads Application Society. Archived from the original on 29 July 2015.
  7. "Maestro - Episodes - Band Camp". BBC. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  8. "Eight passionate amateurs bid to become BBC Two's Maestro" (Press release). BBC. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
  9. 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.
  10. "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.
  11. Mitchison, Amanda (3 October 2005). "Butter wouldn't melt". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  12. "Jane Asher's Kitchen Poundland". Poundland.co.uk. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  13. "Jane Asher's Kitchen Dealz". Archived from the original on 26 April 2014.
  14. "Peter Cook: Comedian, 1937 - 1995". h2g2. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  15. "Patron and President". Arthritis Care. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  16. "Jane Asher". Scoliosis Association (UK). 26 March 2014. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015.
  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. "Patrons of TRACKS Autism". TRACKS Autism. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  21. Miles. p102.
  22. Norman, Philip (1981). The True Story of The Beatles. Long Acre, London: Hamish Hamilton. p. 400. ISBN 978-0-241-10300-5.
  23. "Jane Asher". The Beatles Bible. 22 May 2008.
  24. "UK première of Let It Be". The Beatles Bible. 20 May 1970.
  25. "Person Page". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  26. Thomas, David (19 August 2004). "The darkness behind the smile". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  27. Jane Asher at AllMovie
  28. Charley Moon at the British Film Institute
  29. Staff, Variety (16 May 2006). "Tirant Lo Blanc: The Maidens' Conspiracy". Variety. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  30. Felperin, Leslie (26 January 2013). "I Give It a Year". Variety. Retrieved 3 April 2018.


Further reading

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 7.

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