1 9 8 2 (UK)
5 x 10 minute episodes
1 9 8 4 (UK)
5 x 10 minute episodes
Jane was an unusual and rather experimental comedy based on Norman Pett’s comic strip about a beautiful undercover agent for the British government which appeared in the Daily Mirror from December 1932 to October 1959 and was originally designed to buoy the morale of British soldiers during World War II.
Originally entitled Jane’s Journal, the Diary of a Bright Young Thing, the saucy strip featured the misadventures of a hapless heroine who – while she could fly an enemy plane by instinct and fire complicated weapons accurately by chance – had a habit of losing her outer garments (for example, snagging her dress on a nail while climbing over a fence; being stranded on a raft and needing a sail) until she had to struggle through her various escapades in nothing more than her underwear.
In 1945 King Features attempted to syndicate Jane strips in the United States, but, the amount of nudity was too much for American audiences and the attempt ceased in 1946.
Each shot in this 1980s comedy series was a recreation of a comic book panel, with all of the set and most of the props drawn in. There was very little colour and even all the actors were saturated to match the backgrounds in every frame.
Gorgeous Glynis Barber (who had previously appeared on the popular science fiction series Blake’s 7 playing Soolin in the final series) played the scantily clad Jane who always seemed to lose even the few clothes she had left on, ending up in an assortment of camisoles.
Mervyn Haisman wrote two five-part serials that were broadcast over the course of five weekdays in August 1982 and September 1984 respectively, with an omnibus edition shown the following Sunday.
In the first story, Jane and her commanding officer Colonel Henry (Robin Bailey) faced German spy Lola Pagola (Suzanne Danielle).
In the second, her new chief was Commander L (Frank Thornton) and Jane must defeat Lola’s sister Pola (Fiona Hendley).
Both times she was assisted by Tombs the butler (Max Wall) and her little Dachshund Fritz who commented on proceedings via superimposed speech bubbles.
Neil Innes sang the theme song.
A year after the second serial, Barber became a star as the second half of Dempsey and Makepeace. Sadly she did not reprise the role of Jane in the feature film Jane and the Lost City (1987) which was a proper stinker.
Lola Pagola/Pola Pagola