Although best known as a Television Newsreader, Jan Leeming 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. Back in Sydney she played the part of Georgie in Iris Murdoch's A Severed Head opposite the late Robin Bailey. 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. As a freelance, her career has been varied ranging from the presentation of her own women's programme Women Only - 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 compéred the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982 and spent seven years as a newsreader with the Corporation. 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; varied TV Series ranging from the work of the National Trust to a Documentary on Jack the Ripper and a series 'Cook Back in Time' looking at Cookery through History long before the plethora of Cooking programmes we see today. She has guested on programmes too numerous to mention.
In 2006 she filmed the twenty part series Safari School for BBC; and took part in the ITV programme 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!'. Despite the encouragement of her son who suggested she would be voted out first and could enjoy a two week holiday in a 6 star hotel, she lasted for 17 out of the 21 days. Thank you Son!!
WRITING credits include Working in Television; 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
Her Autobiography was published in 2003 by Robson Books - Addicted to Love
CORPORATE Work: Jan has worked 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 again in '97 for Tony Blair.
PANTO . Jan has appeared in 7 pantomimes culminating in 2006 when she played the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the delightful Theatre Royal Windsor.
In 2010 she was in a 10 week run of Calendar Girls at the Noel Coward Theatre in London
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 for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
CHARITY WORK Patron - Fight for Sight; Life Member of the David Shepherd Conservation Foundation and the Born Free Foundation. When in South Africa, Jan did voluntary work with Cheetahs. She is a Freeman of the City of London; A member of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots; on the Consistory of the Eglise Protestante at Canterbury and a supporter of Cat's Protection.
Jan has recently been appointed a Vice President of the Yorkshire Air Museum and a 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.
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 family has been traced back to 1560 at Coldred and Ringwould in Kent.)
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. And in September, during the BOB Celebrations on the Rock of Gibraltar, the RAF HQ was renamed Mouchotte Building. In attendance was Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.
Apart from the birth of her son, flying with The Red Arrows, The Blades, and learning the trade of a Safari Guide on BBC 2's Documentary series '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 to Lytham St. Anne's.
WORK IN PROGRESS - Jan will be seen on two ITV programmes in the early Autumn and is about to work on a short series of documentaries for BBC 2.
Jan is divorced and has one son, Jonathan, who currently lives in, Sydney, Australia.