Born: April 5, 1946
Birthplace: Willesden, London, England
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 Deep End, 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, as well as publishing three best-selling novels. She was a key figure of 1960s entertainment and arts culture, as well as a girlfriend and muse to Beatle Paul McCartney.
Asher was the middle of three children born to Richard and Margaret Asher, née Eliot, in Willesden, Middlesex. 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. Coincidentally one of her pupils there was George Martin. Asher attended Queen's College in Harley Street, London 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, who started his career as "Peter" of Peter and Gordon.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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".
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. She also has her own brand of kitchenware that is being sold in Poundland shops in the UK and also in Dealz in Ireland.
She is a shareholder in Private Eye, president of Arthritis Care, and a patron of Scoliosis Association (UK).
She is also president of the National Autistic Society, in which she takes an active role. 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. In March 2010, Asher became vice president to Autistica, a UK charity raising funds for autism research. Asher is also a patron of TRACKS Autism, an early years nursery setting for children on the autistic spectrum and The Daisy Garland, a national registered charity supporting children with drug resistant epilepsy.
On 18 April 1963, the 17-year-old Jane Asher interviewed the Beatles 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 ... ... 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.
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."
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." She did attend the 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.
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).
In 1969, her father, Richard, committed suicide at the age of 57. Her mother, Margaret, died in 2011 at the age of 97.
|1955||The Quatermass Xperiment||Little Girl|
|1961||The Greengage Summer||Hester Grey||Released as The Loss of Innocence in the U.S.|
|1963||Girl in the Headlines||Lindy Birkett||Released as The Model Murder Case in the U.S.|
|1964||The Masque of the Red Death||Francesca|
|1967||The Winter's Tale||Perdita|
|The Buttercup Chain||Margaret|
|1972||Henry VIII and His Six Wives||Jane Seymour|
|1984||Success Is the Best Revenge||Bank Manager|
|1988||Paris by Night||Pauline|
|2006||Tirant lo Blanc||Empress of Visaantia|
|2007||Death at a Funeral||Sandra|
|2013||I Give It a Year||Diana|
|2015||Drunk on Love||Miss Sharp|
|This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.|
|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|
|1972||Hedda Gabler||Thea Elvsted||TV movie|
|1973||Wessex Tales||Lucy Saville||Episode: "Fellow Townsmen"|
|1978||Hawkmoor||Lady Johane Williams||5 episodes|
|1978||Hazell||Georgina Gunning||Episode: "Hazell Plays Solomon"|
|1978||Rumpole of the Bailey||Kathy Trelayne||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|
|1985||The Mistress||Helen Carpenter||6 episodes|
|1988||Wish Me Luck||Faith Ashley||22 episodes|
|2003||Crossroads||Angel Samson||18 episodes|
|2004||Agatha Christie's Marple||Mrs. Sylvia 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"|
|2015-16||Eve||Mary Douglas||13 episodes|