Jan Leeming

The official website of Jan Leeming.

Tv & radio interviewer, newsreader, actress, author and voiceover artiste.

Jan Leeming Biography

Although best known as a Television Newsreader,  Jan has had a long and varied career in television and started her working life in theatre.

Born in Kent, Jan went to New Zealand and Australia in the early 60's where she appeared on both stage and television. She was the first woman newsreader on Television in Sydney in 1963 - quite a coup for a male dominated society and before the emergence of Women's Lib.!!

Her theatrical credits included a gruelling seven month tour of New South Wales with a Shakespearean Company called The Young Elizabethans. Jan played Portia in The Merchant of Venice and a witch in Macbeth - that's Rep. for you! Back in Sydney she played the part of Georgie in Iris Murdoch's A Severed Head opposite the late Robin Bailey. Jan starred with another well known English actor, Jack Watling, when she appeared in the John Chapman farce Diplomatic Baggage. She was invited to join the prestigious Union Repertory Company in Melbourne where she played Natasha in War and Peace and the lead in The Young Wife a tragic story about arranged marriages and the Greek community in Australia.

At the end of 1966, Jan returned home and her first job was as a Newsreader for Granada Television in Manchester. In 1968 she joined The Oxford Playhouse for a Repertory Season under the direction of Frank Hauser. Since then her career in Television has been varied ranging from the presentation of her own women's programme Women Only - which she fronted for six years for HTV as well as co-presenting the nightly news programme Report West; two years as a presenter on the BBC daytime magazine programme Pebble Mill concurrent with several series of The Food Programme for the BBC.

She compered the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982 and spent seven years as a newsreader with the BBC. She was twice voted Newsreader of the Year by the Television and Radio Industries Club TRIC, and also won the Pye Award as Television Personality of the Year in 1982.

Since leaving BBC News in Spring '87, Jan has been involved in Corporate Work making videos for companies on a wide range of subjects and hosting Company Conferences and Product Launches . She also presented a six part television series The West in Trust - the people and stories behind the National Trust Properties in the West Country.

In 1988, on the occasion of the centenary of the notorious Jack the Ripper, Jan was invited to present, with Peter Ustinov, a two hour documentary programme for American television which has since been shown in the UK and Australia. In 1989 Jan co-presented the BBC's Magazine Programme The Garden Party. In 1989, '90 and '91 Jan presented three series of craft programmes entitled Makers for the ITV This Morning programme (produced by HTV). Also in 1990, Jan was involved in Poetry Readings, one of which for English Heritage presented at the Orangery in Kenwood was entitled Personalities and Poetry.

In September 1992 Jan was invited to narrate "Peter and the Wolf" in Chester Cathedral as part of the 900 Years Celebration and Gala Concert. And in June '93 she repeated her narrator's role with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the Russian Conductor, Yuri Simonov. In June and September 1993, Jan presented two weeks of the BBC 1 Series "Whatever Happened To?". She also made guest appearances on Radio 4's Gardening Quiz.

She was Chairwoman/Presenter on a series of programmes for Central Television in Summer 1994. The series entitled Right or Wrong took a look at some of the moral issues of the day e.g. Surrogacy, Domestic Violence, New Age Travellers.

In 1996, as a holiday relief, she read News on "The Big Breakfast" - at breakneck speed!; made a guest appearance on 'Good Morning South Africa' in Jo-burg; and another guest appearance talking about beauty and health on GMTV.

Since 2000 guest appearances have included: The Harry Hill Show; So Graham Norton; Lowri Awash with Colour; Newsreaders' Masterclass; Good Morning Australia; Esther; Through the Keyhole; a cameo appearance in the feature film Whatever Happened to Harold Smith starring Tom Courtenay. A Ten part series A Cook Back in Time; Esther; Watercolour Challenge; Liquid News Eurovision; The Morning Show; Good Food Live and Des & Mel. She also presented an RAF Concert at the Barbican to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

In 2006 she filmed the twenty part series Safari School for BBC; and took part in the series 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’

WRITING credits include Working in Television in a career series published by Batsford; Simply Looking Good - Beauty, fashion, health, diet and exercise tips for the working woman; a chapter on Korean cookery in an Encyclopaedia of Asian Cooking; and various magazine articles including a series on travel.

For the Mail on Sunday, Jan was commissioned to write an article on a trip to a closed town in Siberia. For the Daily Mail she has written on subjects as diverse as the merits of 'being of mature years' 'On being 50 - Milestone or Millstone'! and whether British Men are lousy at dating! She also recently reported on Husky Sledding in Lapland for the Travel section of the Sunday Telegraph. And on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, she wrote an article about French pilot – René Mouchotte

CORPORATE Work: Jan has been working in this field for decades and has established a reputation for professionalism and credibility working for companies large and small. December '95 and '96- she presented the Chartermark Awards for the Prime Minister, John Major and presented them again in ’97

PANTO credits include the Fairy in Robinson Crusoe at the Wimbledon Theatre with Dennis Waterman and Rula Lenska; Robin Hood in Babes in the Wood at the Hexagon, Reading with Little and Large and as Prince Charming in Cinderella at the Princess Theatre, Torquay. In 2003, Jan played Fairy Bowbells in the Carlisle Leisure Centre's production of Dick Whittington. In 2006 Jan played the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the Theatre Royal Windsor.

Christmas '94 and '95 performed with Chester Youth Orchestra, Choir and Band 'Christmas with Jan Leeming'. In 1997 'Christmas with J.L.'was performed in the stately home of Tatton Park - Knutsford.

In the last few years she has appeared on Ready Steady Cook; Doctor Doctor; Destination Lunch; I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, NOW; GMTV and Children In Need, Celebrity Cash in the Attic; Celebrity Masterchef, several times on GMTV and BBC Breakfast TV. Most recently she was on a Retrospective of Not the Nine O'Clock News; was in a 10 week run of Calendar Girls at the Noel Coward Theatre and in January 2010 took part in Celebrity Come Dine with Me. In 2011 she took part in Celebrity Five go on Holiday (To Turkey) and featured in Celebrity Ghost Stories. 

2015 - Jan took part in a  documentary series for the BBC filmed in India looking at the viability of retirement there. Entitled 'The Real Marigold Hotel' it was very popular and has led to more series and also an offshoot called 'Marigolds on Tour'. Jan was part of the team who went to Cuba and Argentina

2017   TV Appearances - "Money for Nothing” “First Date “  "Marigolds on Tour - Cuba”

2019 Marigolds on Tour - Argentina

2019 Reunion - BBC Radio 4 series.  Episode reuniting first National Female Newsreaders - Angela Rippon, Sue Lawley, Julia Summerville and Jan Leeming

Her Autobiography ' Addicted to Love' was published by Robson Books in 2003

HOBBIES . Main loves are theatre, ballet, reading, particularly biographies and autobiographies. She enjoys entertaining friends to dinner and loves travel. She has dabbled with jewellery making and silver-smithing and very much wants to take up again Watercolour Painting.

After her sojourn in the Australian Rainforest in 'I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of here ......" - she has become something of an action woman - learning to ski, husky-sledding, snow mobiling and wingwalking.  

Whilst the success of 'Real Marigold Hotel', has seen her travel to Cuba and Argentina for BBC documentary work, she became an ambassador for single travellers, (taking her to destinations such as Burma, Croatia, Canada) with writing commissions for various Travel publications.


Patron - Animals SOS Sri Lanka

Patron - Safe Haven for Donkeys

President - Folkestone Symphony Orchestra

Life Member of the David Shepherd Conservation Foundation and Born Free Foundation.

Jan is a Freeman of the City of London

Jan is Patron of Souvenir Français - a French association for maintaining war memorials and handing down the memory of them to future generations. It is comparable to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. With her French origins, Jan feels very proud to be involved.

She is also proud to be an Assistant Guide at Canterbury Cathedral for the last 12 years and where she gives two mini talks every Sunday on Archbishop Thomas Becket and the Black Prince.

Jan actively supports the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust Fund and has sponsored all the Free French Pilots named on the Battle of Britain Memorial Wall at Capel le Ferne in Kent. (Jan, on the maternal side is of French descent and the Pettet family has been traced back to 1560 at Coldred and Ringwould in Kent and has wills dating from the reign of Henry V111. On her paternal side, Jan has Indian DNA - what a mix!)


After 5 years of research, detective work and continually negative replies, Jan finally got a documentary about her sponsored French pilot, René Mouchotte, into the BBC SE ‘Inside Out’ programme in January 2013. It was also shown on BBC South and BBC North.

Since the documentary aired, a Vitrine to René has been unveiled in the Lycée Français in Kensington.

In July 2013, at the British Ambassador's Residence in Paris, Sir (now Lord) Peter Ricketts presented BOB Medals to the Mouchotte and Lafont families. Two days later in Kent at the Battle of Britain Memorial Day at Capel-le-Ferne, the CAS Sir Stephen Dalton mentioned Mouchotte and Lafont in his address. In September Jan was invited to Gibraltar where , during the BOB Celebrations on the Rock of Gibraltar, the RAF HQ was renamed Mouchotte Building. In attendance was Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.

In 2014, at the British Ambassador's Residence in Paris, the remaining families of the Free French named on the BOB Wall were presented with their BOB Medals.

Apart from the birth of her son, flying with The Red Arrows, The Blades, and learning the trade of a Safari Guide on Safari School, count as the most wonderful experiences of her life.

On the flying front, Jan has been fortunate enough to have experienced flight in a wide array of planes and helicopters, large and small. Among the list, she ‘s flown in a Hunter at RAF Chivenor; a Bulldog at RAF Leeming; a Hawk at RAF Scampton and a Chinook from Strike Command to Lytham St. Anne’s.

Jan is a  proud member of the RAF CLUB in London


In 2022, Jan was mugged in a small Provençal village.  The incident found it’s way into the British Press and led to an invite to appear on GMTV which she accepted provided she could talk about the benefits of HRT without which Jan felt she could well have had her arm broken in the attack where she was rugby tackled to the ground.

Having presented Eurovision in 1982, Jan was honoured to be a guest on Eurovision 2023 and was interviewed by the presenter Graham Norton.  Possibly as a result of this appearance she was invited to do a swimsuit shoot for The Mirror newspaper - following on from an article about Martha Stewart (well known American business woman) who also posed in a swimsuit.  At first refusing the offer, Jan capitulated when it was promised that she could air her strong views on Age Discrimination.

FREE FRENCH SPITFIRE HERO.  Jan never gave up hoping that she would get the Diaries of René Mouchotte republished complete with all the Appendices missing from the reprint in 2000. A chance introduction to Dilip Sarkar - a prolific writer of books on World War 11 - led to the Diaries being republished by Pen and Sword.  The book was launched, appropriately at the Battle of Britain Memorial in November 2022 in the presence of the French Air Attaché Xavier Rival who arrived clutching his Grandfather’s leather bound original copy of the diaries.  Foreword to the book was written by Lord Peter Ricketts, my ‘Search for René Mouchotte’ formed the Epilogue and Dilip Sarkar expanded on two major events - the downing of the 1000th Enemy Aircraft to celebrate which a Ball was held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London and the Raid on Épèrlecques (site of the V2 manufacture) where René lost his life.  27th August 2023 commemorates the 80th Anniversary of his death.  The book is heavily illustrated with many photos kindly lent by the Mouchotte family.  The story hasn’t quite ended.  There may be a prestigious function later in the year - watch this space as they say.

Since November Jan has given her Presentation on René Mouchotte many times in places as diverse as the Battle of Britain Memorial and a church without electricity - St. Rumwold’s on the Romney Marshes (where the lovely Paul O’Grady is buried).  Several historical societies have invited Jan to give her talk - both illustrated and without illustrations as the situation dictates.


Jan is divorced and single. Her only son Jonathan currently lives in Sydney, Australia.

© Jan Leeming.