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Jan Ravens

Jan Ravens

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Janet "Jan" Ravens is an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 actress and impressionist
Impressionist (entertainment)
An impressionist or a mimic is a performer whose act consists of imitating the voice and mannerisms of others. The word usually refers to a professional comedian/entertainer who specializes in such performances and has developed a wide repertoire of impressions, including adding to them, often to...

, famous for her voices on Spitting Image
Spitting Image
Spitting Image is a British satirical puppet show that aired on the ITV network from 1984 to 1996. It was produced by Spitting Image Productions for Central Television. The series was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards, winning one for editing in 1989....

and Dead Ringers
Dead Ringers (comedy)
Dead Ringers is a UK radio and television comedy impressions broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and later BBC Two. The programme was devised by producer Bill Dare and developed with Jon Holmes, Andy Hurst and Simon Blackwell. It starred Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens, Phil Cornwell, Kevin Connelly and Mark Perry...


Early life

She grew up in Hoylake
Hoylake is a seaside town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, on Merseyside, England. It is located at the north western corner of the Wirral Peninsula, near to the town of West Kirby and where the River Dee estuary meets the Irish Sea...

, then in Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

, on the west side of the Wirral with her father a local government clerk and her mother a nurse. She attended the West Kirby Grammar School for Girls
West Kirby Grammar School
West Kirby Grammar School is a girls grammar school and sixth form college located in the town of West Kirby on the Wirral Peninsula, England. The school currently has 1182 students on roll of whom most are girls ....

. She was educated at Homerton College, Cambridge
Homerton College, Cambridge
Homerton College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England.With around 1,200 students, Homerton has more students than any other Cambridge college, although less than half of these live in the college. The college has a long and complex history dating back to the...

 where she studied Education Studies and Drama and was the first female President of Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club, commonly referred to simply as the Footlights, is an amateur theatrical club in Cambridge, England, founded in 1883 and run by the students of Cambridge University....

 Club in 1979-80.


After Cambridge she became a radio comedy producer. She joined the cast of Jasper Carrott
Jasper Carrott
Jasper Carrott OBE is a British comedian, actor, television presenter and personality.-Early life:...

's comedy Carrott's Lib
Carrott's Lib
Carrott's Lib is a British satirical comedy series broadcast between 1982 and 1983. It starred Jasper Carrott and a cast of many comedians. The show was not just a satirical comedy, it was also a sketch show with many comedians of the future, most famously Chris Barrie & Jan Ravens...

 in 1983, and made her name very popular with the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

. In 1986, she played the heavily pregnant Vanessa Plowright in the Tourists episode of Farrington of the F.O.
Farrington of the F.O.
Farrington of the F.O. was a British television comedy series by Dick Sharples about the staff of the British Consulate in "one of the armpits of Latin America". It was produced by Yorkshire Television and broadcast from 1986 to 1987...

(broadcast 13 March). In 1994, she spent a year with the RSC
Royal Shakespeare Company
The Royal Shakespeare Company is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The company employs 700 staff and produces around 20 productions a year from its home in Stratford-upon-Avon and plays regularly in London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and on tour across...

. She has done much voice-over work, being the Cadbury's Caramel
Cadbury Caramilk
Caramilk is a caramel-filled candy bar made by Cadbury Adams in Canada. It was first sold in 1968.Variations available, some of them limited editions, include Caramilk made with dark chocolate maple, chocolate, or cappuccino. The standard bar is not actually made with chocolate, and is simply...

 bunny for several years, and as the seductive voice of a can of apple Tango
Tango (drink)
Tango is a carbonated soft drink sold primarily in the United Kingdom and Ireland and from 2010 in Sweden, Norway and Hungary as well, first launched by Corona in 1950. Corona were bought by the Beecham Group in 1958, and Beecham Soft Drinks were bought by Britvic in 1987...

. She has also appeared on Just A Minute
Just a Minute
Just a Minute is a BBC Radio 4 radio comedy panel game chaired by Nicholas Parsons. Its first transmission on Radio 4 was on 22 December 1967, three months after the station's launch. The Radio 4 programme won a Gold Sony Radio Academy Award in 2003....

on Radio 4, Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Whose Line Is It Anyway? is a short-form improvisational comedy TV show. Originally a British radio programme, it moved to television in 1988 as a series made for the UK's Channel 4, for a 10 series run...

, Have I Got News for You
Have I Got News for You
Have I Got News for You is a British television panel show produced by Hat Trick Productions for the BBC. It is based loosely on the BBC Radio 4 show The News Quiz, and has been broadcast since 1990, currently the BBC's longest-ever running television panel show...

, Alexei Sayle's Stuff
Alexei Sayle's Stuff
Alexei Sayle's Stuff is a comedy sketch show which ran on BBC2 for a total of 18 episodes over 3 series from 1988 to 1991.-Cast:Alexei Sayle's Stuff stars stand-up comedian Alexei Sayle, with a recurring cast including Angus Deayton, Mark Williams, Arabella Weir, Tony Millan, Jan Ravens, Owen...

and in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

's Countdown
Countdown (game show)
Countdown is a British game show involving word and number puzzles. It is produced by ITV Studios and broadcast on Channel 4. It is presented by Jeff Stelling, assisted by Rachel Riley, with regular lexicographer Susie Dent. It was the first programme to be aired on Channel 4, and over sixty-five...

(one of the shows that Dead Ringers parodied). She was producer of the Radio 4 comedy Elephants to Catch Eels
Elephants to Catch Eels
Elephants to Catch Eels was an historical situation comedy series broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2003 and 2004. It was written by Tom Jamieson and Nev Fountain and produced by Jan Ravens....



People she regularly imitates are Newsnight
Newsnight is a BBC Television current affairs programme noted for its in-depth analysis and often robust cross-examination of senior politicians. Jeremy Paxman has been its main presenter for over two decades....

host Kirsty Wark
Kirsty Wark
Kirsteen Anne Wark is a British journalist and television presenter best known for fronting the BBC Two's news and current affairs programme Newsnight since 1993, and its weekly arts annexe Newsnight Review which is now relaunched as "The Review Show".-Biography:Wark was born in Dumfries to Jimmy...

, Charlotte Green
Charlotte Green
Charlotte Green is a British radio continuity announcer and news reader for BBC Radio 4. Since 1998 she has specialised in news reading, including reading the news on Radio 4 flagship Today, and reading news items on The News Quiz...

 of BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 (with many double entendre
Double entendre
A double entendre or adianoeta is a figure of speech in which a spoken phrase is devised to be understood in either of two ways. Often the first meaning is straightforward, while the second meaning is less so: often risqué or ironic....

s), Ellen MacArthur
Ellen MacArthur
Dame Ellen Patricia MacArthur, DBE is an English sailor, up until 2009, from Whatstandwell near Matlock in Derbyshire, now based in West Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. She is best known as a solo long-distance yachtswoman. On 7 February 2005 she broke the world record for the fastest solo...

 (who regularly bursts into tears), Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lucy Lawson is an English food writer, journalist and broadcaster. Lawson is the daughter of Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Vanessa Salmon, whose family owned the J. Lyons and Co. empire...

 (with double entendres), Ann Widdecombe
Ann Widdecombe
Ann Noreen Widdecombe is a former British Conservative Party politician and has been a novelist since 2000. She is a Privy Councillor and was the Member of Parliament for Maidstone from 1987 to 1997 and for Maidstone and The Weald from 1997 to 2010. She was a social conservative and a member of...

 (narrating fanciful racy storylines in her novels), Hyacinth Bucket
Hyacinth Bucket
Hyacinth Bucket, who insists her last name is pronounced "Bouquet" , is the main character in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances , played by Patricia Routledge.-Personality:...

, Queen Elizabeth, chirpy Sandi Toksvig
Sandi Toksvig
Sandra Brigitte “Sandi” Toksvig is a Danish comedian, author and presenter on British radio and television.-Career:...

, stern-faced Gillian McKeith
Gillian McKeith
Gillian McKeith is a Scottish nutritionist, television presenter, and writer. She is the former host in the UK of Channel 4's You Are What You Eat and Granada Television's Dr Gillian McKeith's Feel Fab Forever, and as of 2010 presents Eat Yourself Sexy on the W Network in Canada...

, Sophie Raworth
Sophie Raworth
Sophie Jane Raworth is an English newsreader and journalist who works for British broadcaster the BBC. She is the main presenter of the BBC News at One, presenting Tuesday to Friday, and regularly appears on the BBC News at Six and occasionally on BBC News at Ten.-Early life:Born in Surrey to a...

 (with a bemused school-girl grin) and Fiona Bruce
Fiona Bruce
Fiona Elizabeth Bruce is a British journalist, newsreader and television presenter. Since joining the BBC in 1989, she has gone on to present many flagship programmes for the corporation including the BBC News at Six, BBC News at Ten, Crimewatch, Call My Bluff and, most recently, Antiques Roadshow...

 (with barely concealed filthy invitations) of BBC News
BBC News
BBC News is the department of the British Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online...

, Anne Robinson
Anne Robinson
Anne Josephine Robinson is an English journalist and television presenter, known for her assertive views and acerbic style of presenting. She was one of the presenters on the long-running British consumer affairs series, Watchdog, from 1993 to 2001 before returning in 2009...

 of The Weakest Link
The Weakest Link
The Weakest Link is a television game show which first appeared in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 14 August 2000 and will end its run in 2012 when its host Anne Robinson ends her contract. The original British version of the show airs around the world on BBC Entertainment...

, Lesley Garrett
Lesley Garrett
Lesley Garrett CBE is an English musician, broadcaster and media personality.- Early life :Garrett was born in the town of Thorne near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, into a musical family. She attended Thorne Grammar School, where she performed in school plays and musicals. As she grew up she...

 (often referring to her generous cleavage), and the Geordie
Geordie is a regional nickname for a person from the Tyneside region of the north east of England, or the name of the English-language dialect spoken by its inhabitants...

-accented wife of David Archer, Ruth, from Radio 4 soap, The Archers.

Other television

Ravens appeared in a series 3 episode of David Renwick's hit series "One Foot in the Grave" (entitled "Monday Morning will be Fine") as Pat Aylesbury (one of Meldrew's neighbours who he turns to after being burgled).

From 1996 till 2001 She played Janet Grimley, the mother in The Grimleys
The Grimleys
The Grimleys is a nostalgic comedy-drama television series set on a council estate in Dudley, West Midlands, England in the mid-1970s. It was first broadcast by Granada TV for ITV in 1999, following a pilot in 1997, and concluded in 2001 after three series....

, a nostalgic sitcom set in 70's Dudley.

In autumn 2006, Jan Ravens appeared on the popular BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 entertainment programme Strictly Come Dancing
Strictly Come Dancing
Strictly Come Dancing is a British television show, featuring celebrities with professional dance partners competing in Ballroom and Latin dances. The title of the show suggests a continuation of the long-running series Come Dancing, with an allusion to the film Strictly Ballroom...

partnered with Anton du Beke
Anton du Beke
Anton du Beke is a British ballroom dancer and television presenter. His professional dance partner since 1997 has been Erin Boag. With Boag, he won the IDTA Classic in England in November 2003.-Family and early life:...

. She reached the 5th week of the competition, when she was knocked out.

In spring 2007, she appeared on the BBC programme The Truth About Food, exploring different foods and how they affect behaviour. She is an ambassador for the charity Action Aid. Also in 2007, she appeared in Ronni Ancona
Ronni Ancona
Ronni Ancona is a Scottish actress, impressionist and author. Ancona won the Best TV Comedy Actress award at the 2003 British Comedy Awards for her work in Big Impression.- Career :...

's comedy sketch show, Ronni Ancona & Co
Ronni Ancona & Co
Ronni Ancona & Co is a comedy sketch show that aired on BBC One and began on 25 May 2007. The sketches all consisted of impressions of well-known celebrities amongst other comedy sketches of fictional characters created by Ronni Ancona. Phil Cornwell, Jan Ravens and John Sessions all starred in the...


She has occasionally deputised for Anne Robinson in The Weakest Link although in each case the audience was unaware of the substitution.

She won the edition of Celebrity Mastermind
Mastermind (TV series)
Mastermind is a British quiz show, well known for its challenging questions, intimidating setting and air of seriousness.Devised by Bill Wright, the basic format of Mastermind has never changed — four and in later contests five contestants face two rounds, one on a specialised subject of the...

on 1 January 2008. She also appeared as Effy
Effy Stonem
Elizabeth "Effy" Stonem is a fictional character in the television series Skins, played by Kaya Scodelario. She is the only main character to appear in more than two series. She appears in all of the first four series...

's art teacher in E4 drama Skins
Skins (TV series)
Skins is a BAFTA award-winning British teen drama that follows a group of teenagers in Bristol, South West England, through the two years of college. The controversial plot line explores issues such as dysfunctional families, mental illness , adolescent sexuality, substance abuse and death...


Personal life

She married Steve Brown (composer)
Steve Brown (composer)
Steve Brown is a British composer.He wrote the book and lyrics and composed the score for Spend Spend Spend, which chronicled Viv Nicholson's rise and fall after winning a fortune in the football pools in the early 1960s....

, before divorcing him in 1993 and later marrying the vice-president of Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

, Max Hole
Max Hole
Max Hole is chief operating officer of UMGI since 1 July 2010. As head of central functions at UMGI's headquarters in London, he is also responsible for operations in territories and regions worldwide...

, in July 1999 in Richmond upon Thames
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames is a London borough in South West London, UK, which forms part of Outer London. It is unique because it is the only London borough situated both north and south of the River Thames.-Settlement:...

. She lives in Barnes. She has given birth to three sons (two born in April 1987 and January 1991 to her first husband, and one born in June 1998 to her second husband).

External links

News items

Audio clips

Video clips