Janet Brown

Janet McLuckie Brown (14 December 1923  27 May 2011) was a Scottish actress, comedian and impressionist who gained considerable fame in the 1970s and 1980s for her impersonations of Margaret Thatcher.[1] Brown was the wife of Peter Butterworth who was best known for his appearances in the Carry on films. Butterworth died in 1979 and Brown never remarried.

Janet Brown
Janet McLuckie Brown

(1923-12-14)14 December 1923
Died27 May 2011(2011-05-27) (aged 87)
Hove, East Sussex, England
OccupationActress, comedian, impressionist
Years active1946–2009[1]
Spouse(s)Peter Butterworth
(1947–1979) (his death)
ChildrenTyler Butterworth (born 1959)
Emma Butterworth (1962–1996) (deceased)


Brown was born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, and educated at Rutherglen Academy.[1]

During World War II Brown enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service and was the first female performer in Stars in Battledress[2].

She entered British film as an actress in 1948 noticeably in Folly to Be Wise (1952) than appeared in several British television series such as The Eric Barker Half-Hour (1952), How Do You View? (1952-1953} and Friends and Neighbours (1954).

Margaret Thatcher impersonations

Beginning with Margaret Thatcher's election as the leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, Brown gained increasing prominence because of her realistic impression of the Tory politician. She performed as Thatcher on BBC TV's Mike Yarwood Show, on BBC Radio's The News Huddlines, and on film in the 1981 James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only.

In 1979, Brown starred as Thatcher on the comedy album Iron Lady: The Coming of the Leader,[3] written by Private Eye satirist John Wells and produced by Secret Policeman's Ball series co-creator/producer Martin Lewis and Not the Nine O'Clock News series co-creator/producer John Lloyd.[4] The largely spoken 'song' 'Iron Lady' was released as a single and she promoted it on Top of the Pops as a new release but it did not chart.

During the 1970s and 1980s, she was occasionally confused by some with fellow actress and comedienne Faith Brown because they had the same surname and were both best remembered for their Margaret Thatcher impersonations. In 1990, she recorded a spoken word sequence in her Margaret Thatcher voice for Mike Oldfield's album Amarok. Still acting in her 80s, her last role was as Old Lady Squeamish on the London West End stage in a production of Wycherley's The Country Wife at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, which opened in September 2007.

She entitled her 1986 autobiography Prime Mimicker.[5]

Personal life

Brown was married to Carry On actor Peter Butterworth from 1946 until his death in 1979.[1][6] The two appeared alongside each other in the television comedy series, How Do You View? (1947–53), written by and starring Terry-Thomas. The couple had two children, a son, actor Tyler Butterworth (born 1959), and a daughter, Emma, who died in 1996, aged 34.[6]

Brown never remarried, spending the rest of her life in Hove, until her death following a brief illness in a nursing home in May 2011, aged 87.[7][6] She is buried alongside her husband Peter Butterworth in Danehill Cemetery, in East Sussex.[8]


Title Year Role Notes
Folly to Be Wise1953Jessie Killegrew
A Home of Your Own1964
Hey Boy! Hey Girl1967
The Adding Machine1969Fat Woman
My Lover My Son1970Mrs. Woods
Bless This House1972Annie Hobbs
Wombling Free1977WombleVoice
For Your Eyes Only1981Margaret Thatcher, The Prime Minister
Summer Solstice2005Mrs. Armstrong
Zorro and Scarlet Whip Revealed!2010Mrs. McAlistairVoice, (final film role)


  1. Telegraph obituary
  2. p. 86 Merriman, Andy Greasepaint & Cordite Aurum Press 21 March 2013
  3. "Janet Brown (3) – Iron Lady – The Coming Of The Leader (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  4. Brown, Janet. Prime Mimickery Robson Books, 1986, p. 115
  5. Prime Mimicker: Amazon.co.uk: Janet Brown: Books. ASIN 0860512479.
  6. 'Margaret Thatcher' actress Janet Brown dies
  7. "Actress Janet Brown dies aged 87". bbc.co.uk. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  8. "Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
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