This blog is for English actress, cakemaker and writer Jane Asher, with many pictures and accurate information of one of the most beautiful rock muses from the 20th century.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Lecture special: How the cookie crumbles for Jane, 1988

TV Times, 23/29 January 1988. vol 130. Num. 4


No one would have thought, with two books about the making of decorative cakes to her credit, that actress Jane Asher would ever say: 'I'm not a sponge person. Baking isn't my forte.'
But sitting curled on a sofa in her dining room, she is determined to shatter the image of herself as the superwoman mother of three, who acts, looks after her cartoonist husband Gerald Scarfe and Emily the dog and writes books while dashing off the odd masterpiece in ponge and icing.
the culinary confessions continue over coffee.
'They don't all work out, you know. the cakes. I've had loads of disasters. But, of course, nobody wants to read about them in a book. Like the one I made for my mum on her 70th birthday. It was to be the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. I imagined this wonderful boot with children peeping out of the windows, but it came out like one of those gheetly surgical boots. So depressing for a woman of 70. I threw it away. I've had several like that. I'm afraid my books give me an image that I don't deserve.'

The image is something she can live with. Her books sell very well.
'Strange to think how it all started. I have always made fancy cakes. I like doing fiddly things that require a lot of patience. I was in a West End play and had some time on my hands, so I sent a few photographs of my cakes to a publisher. I got a really snotty letter back saying he was not interested. It was the kind of letter that makes one determined to succeed. I sent my photos round to six other publishers and, finally, one of them said yes. The book was a runaway success and they were soon screaming for more. As a result, i have just produced a book called Easy Entertaining.' This tells the busy housewife how to return from a hard day at the office and produce a dinner party for eight withouth batting an eyelid. 

In 1956, Jane Asher's film caravan came to rest alongside Max Bygraves. The pig-tailed child star appeared in 'Charley Moon', a story of life in a travelling circus.
 It can only enhance Jane's formidable image, bolatered in recent months by a series of television parts in which she has portrayed coolly efficient women. As Faith Ashley in ITV's adventure series Wish Me Luck on Sunday, she plays another cut-glass type.
She says: 'Faith's job is to recruit and train woen agents for work in occupied France. She is good at being objective and taking hard desitions. I suppose I get these parts because I have the look of a person who is in control. But I'm not. I forget things, I daydream, I make mistakes. I'm just like any other harassed mother of three trying to run a career and a home.'
At the age of 41, Jane Asher certainly doesn't look like the average harassed mother of three. The red-gold hair, which seems to attract all the light in the room, the fine features and pale skin go with a figure as slender as a teenager's.
'I'm lucky,' she says. 'I eat what I like and I don't put on weight. I don't suppose I could have trhown myself with such gusto into the cake books if I was frightened of licking the butter icing. The children are the same. We are a thin family.'
To prove the pint, in walks 13-year-old Kate, her oldest child. Same slener figure, same pale skin, same extraordinary hair.
'But I hate to be called a redhead,' Katie warns. She asks her mother to plait her hair for her.
'Nice shirt you have on,' says Jane, raising an eyebrow.
'You don't mind do you, Mum?'
'Of course not. We are about the same size,' Says Jane, speedily knotting her daughter's long tresses into a silky rope.
'Katie was an only child for seven years until the boys came along [Alexander who is six, and rory, who is four], so we are very close.'
With her mother's looks and figure, had Katie ever shown an interest in taking up her mother's profession?
'No,' say mother and daughter together.
'I have purposely discouraged children from wanting to be child stars,' says Jane. 'All three of them are good at drawing. They get it from their father, and Katie plays the piano. These talents I have encouraged. But not acting'.

Jane's film debut came in 1952, when the five-year-old budding actress was in 'Mandy', an emotional and well-received story about a deaf-and-dumb girl, which featured Nancy Price (centre) and Phyllis Calvert.
She speaks from her jaded stance of a former child star. Mandy (1952) and The Greengage Summer (1961), two of her most successful childhood films, have not let her with the desire to push her own children in a similar direction. She explains: 'It'snot that child stars miss out on childhood. I certainly didn't. But it gives kids a strange set of values. I hate to see tiny tots auditioning against each other and getting turned down because someone doesn't like the way they look. I don't think that kind of competitiveness is good. Even if a child gets a good part, there's nothing so wonderful about it. It means a lot of hanging round feeling miserale and bored.'

While she says that her memories of being a child star are not exactly unhappy, she believes that, left to her own devices, she would never have chosen a career in acting.
'My father was a doctor and I was always fascinated by that side of things. I think I may have become some sort of of scientist. It'snot that I haven't enjoyed being an actress. It's just that I think it would have been better for me if my uptions had remained open until I was a bit older.'

'It's not that I want to look less than 41. i just want to look nice at 41,' says a cheerful Jane asher, with Emily her dog.
One of the things she is not looking forward to as she gets older is seeing herself on television starring in old films in the full flush of youth. I ask whether she would consider a facelift in years to come.
'I think the answer is no. but if someone was to offer me a jar of cream that would do the business, I'd buy it like a shot. I don't have anything against it in principle, i just don't fancy the surgery. I used to have a puritanical feeling against it, but as you enter your 40s, it doesn't seem so bad. It's not that I want to look less than 41. I just want to look nice at 41.
I suggest that she already is a very glamorous 41.
'Oh, no,' she says. 'I've never thought of myself as glamorous.'
Yes, we know. And you can't bake cakes, either!

Jane in pensive mood as Faith, the spy-mistress in the ITV drama series 'Wish Me Luck', on Sunday.
Cover scan from Brit Movie forums.
Pictures 1 to 4) Lady Jane group at yahoo.

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