Janet Brown, the actress and impressionist, and widow of Peter Butterworth, has died.
BBC News - Actress Janet Brown dies aged 87
Actress and widow of Peter Butterworth has died aged 87. Memorable as Margaret Thatcher in For Your Eyes Only
Sad news. A lovely lady.
Very sorry to learn about Janet's death. I liked her a lot and have fond memories of her appearances from (too) long ago. She mimicked Katharine Hepburn and Sue Ellen from Dallas very well. I hope Mrs. Thatcher saw the funny side. A wonderful entertainer and an attractive lady when I last saw her on TV, maybe in the Mid to Late Eighties. I can't believe she was that age at the end. Always looked so youthful.
It's not mentioned in that BBC article, or IMDb, but I know Janet had a daughter who died a long time ago, a terrible tragedy in her life that I only recall seeing among the Death Notices. As if she hadn't been through enough with husband Peter Butterworth's death. I've never seen a picture of them together I don't think.
Just found her Wikipedia page and both family tragedies are mentioned:
Janet Brown - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
All very sad. It was Kathy Kirby this time last week.
Deepest condolences to Janet's son, who I remember as an actor, and her other family and friends. R.I.P.
I have Janet's This is Your Life, and her daughter appeared in that, along with her son, actor Tyler Butterworth.
She also had her own TV series, I always remember her wickedly accurate impression of Noele Gordon.
The Guardian Obit
Janet Brown obituaryActor best known for comedy shows and her impersonations of Margaret Thatcher
Janet Brown, who has died aged 87, wrote an autobiography in 1986 titled Prime Mimicker, and it is for her takeoffs of Margaret Thatcher that the impressionist will be best remembered. She was quick to add the Iron Lady to her repertoire when Thatcher became Conservative party leader in 1975, during Brown's run in the quickfire-impressions television show Who Do You Do? (1972-75) and its sequel, Now Who Do You Do? (1976).
As a result, she was hired to impersonate Thatcher alongside the small screen's top male impressionist of the time, Mike Yarwood, in Mike Yarwood in Persons (1977-81) and Look – Mike Yarwood (1971-76).
With Thatcher's ascent to the office of prime minister in 1979, Brown's own fame spiralled. As well as appearances on many entertainment shows, she was given her own programme, Janet and Company (1980-82). There seemed some irony in the fact that the final two episodes were postponed because of the Falklands war, which helped the real-life Thatcher to turn around her poor popularity ratings.
Brown was also a regular on BBC radio's The News Huddlines and played the role of prime minister, a clearly undisguised Thatcher, in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
She even met and corresponded with Thatcher. "I was at Wembley in 1986 for a Conservative party conference," Brown recalled. "Afterwards, she came up to me and said, 'I know you could have delivered my speech better than I did, but was it all right?' She was always very sweet to me and she needn't have been. But, then, I used to be quite selective about the scripts I'd do. I was prepared to send her up, but not maliciously."
Born in the South Lanarkshire town of Rutherglen, outside Glasgow, Brown started doing impersonations as a teenager. She attended Rutherglen academy and, after second world war service with the ATS, went into variety.
In 1946, while taking part in rehearsals for a Jack Hylton revue, she met the actor Peter Butterworth, who was later to appear in the Carry On films. They married the same year, and she credited him with sharpening her sense of humour.
She was later cast in the writer James Bridie's West End stage play Mr Gillie (Garrick theatre, 1950) as the doctor's daughter Nelly Watson, who falls for the Scottish schoolmaster of the title, played by Alastair Sim – a production screened by BBC television. In the same year, she was seen doing impressions of the show-business figures Marie Lloyd, Kathleen Harrison, Jessie Matthews and Gracie Fields in the television variety show A Ray of Sunshine, presented by the comedian Ted Ray.
Brown made her film debut in the Glasgow shipyard drama Floodtide (1949) and followed it by appearing alongside Sim again in the comedy Folly to be Wise (1952), produced by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat. She also performed in episodes of the television sketch shows The Eric Barker Half-Hour and How Do You View?, starring Terry-Thomas (both 1952).
After further stage work and the role of the production secretary Janet in the radio show The TV Lark (1963) – a sequel to The Navy Lark, with the ship's crew running a television station – she had a straight role in Z Cars (1965) before regular appearances in The Dick Emery Show (1967-68) and the role of Joyce in the sitcom Mr Digby Darling (1969), with Sheila Hancock and Peter Jones.
Then, Brown's impressions found a showcase on television. As well as Thatcher, she was particularly remembered for impersonating Joan Rivers, Pam Ayres, Nana Mouskouri, Barbara Woodhouse and, in character, Dallas's Sue Ellen Ewing. This even brought Brown fame abroad, including Australia, where she performed cabaret and spoke at the Sydney Opera House – as Thatcher – during the country's bicentennial celebrations in 1988.
Her popularity inevitably waned with the demise of both television variety shows and Thatcher. Most of her later television appearances were in dramatic roles, in series such as Doctors (2003), Midsomer Murders (2004), Casualty (2005) and Hotel Babylon (2009).
Brown's final stage role was as Old Lady Squeamish in a West End production of The Country Wife (Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 2007).
Her husband died in 1979. Brown and Butterworth had two children, Emma, who died in 1996, and the actor Tyler, who survives her.
• Janet McLuckie Brown, actor and impressionist, born 14 December 1923; died 27 May 2011
The Telegraph Obit
Janet Brown , who died on May 27 aged 87, was an actress best known for her impersonations of Margaret Thatcher on radio and television in the 1970s and 1980s.
She managed to perfect not only the Prime Minister’s manner of speaking — itself very distinctive — but also her mannerisms and style of dress.
Perhaps her finest performance was when she was in New York to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In the VIP lounge at Kennedy Airport she convinced the acid-tongued American comedienne Joan Rivers that she was indeed Mrs Thatcher. Rivers became obsequiousness itself, and apologised to “the Prime Minister” for berating the British Royal family. When told of the deception, she asked Janet Brown: “If you’re not Margaret Thatcher, for God’s sake who are you?”
Janet Brown admired the Prime Minister as a politician and as a woman, and the admiration was mutual. The two women struck up a friendship and occasionally met at No 10 Downing Street. When she was Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher also invited her “alter ego” to stay for the weekend at Chequers. Janet Brown was preparing to go to sleep in her bedroom when there was a knock on the door. It was Mrs Thatcher — concerned that her friend’s quarters were on the chilly side — bearing a hot-water bottle. On one of the occasions when Mrs Thatcher was reelected to government, she wrote to Janet Brown: “I half expected to find you at No 10 before me!”
Janet Brown was first asked to try her famous impersonation by Eamonn Andrews for Thames Television’s Today Show shortly after Margaret Thatcher had been elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1975. After Mrs Thatcher was elected to government four years later, demands for Janet Brown’s impersonation snowballed.
Janet McLuckie Brown was born on December 14 1923 at Rutherglen, near Glasgow, the daughter of a shipyard worker, and was educated at Rutherglen Academy. She left school early and worked briefly in a local branch of the Co-Op before leaving Glasgow, with the blessing of her father, to tour in a show with Hughie Green.
During the war she served with the ATS, joining a Stars in Battledress entertainment ensemble which gave shows for troops serving in Europe. Among those she worked with were Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd and Harry Secombe.
She then sought to make a career in London working in radio, and in 1946 received an offer to join a summer revue show at Scarborough. It was there that she met her future husband, the actor Peter Butterworth, best known for his roles in the Carry On films. They married in 1947, and worked together on a number of occasions, including on children’s television.
She continued to be in demand on radio — she later appeared on The Goon Show — and she also appeared on stage in Mr Gillie, with Alastair Sim. She later recalled: “He taught me to always 'feel’ myself into a character from the inside.”
On television, Janet Brown appeared in Rainbow Room, Where Shall We Go? and Friends and Neighbours before the Seventies’ taste for impressions led her to concentrate on the showbusiness niche that would make her famous.
On shows such as Who Do You Do (in which she appeared with Freddie Starr) and Mike Yarwood in Persons she gave impressions of the Coronation Street character Hilda Ogden, the entertainer “Two-Ton” Tessie O’Shea, Noele Gordon and Pam Ayres among others.
In 1981 she was given her own show, Janet and Co, making an impact with her impersonations of Mrs Thatcher and the celebrated dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse. She also played Margaret Thatcher in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981) and on Roy Hudd’s The News Huddlines on Radio 2.
She continued to work until late in life, and had recently appeared in shows such as Midsomer Murders (2004), Casualty (2005) and Hotel Babylon (2009) — her final stage role was as Old Lady Squeamish in The Country Wife at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2007.
Nothing gave Janet Brown more pleasure at the end of her life than watching sport on television, particularly snooker and tennis — she was always keen to follow the progress of her fellow Scot Andy Murray.
In 1987 she published an autobiography, Prime Mimicker.
Janet Brown died at a nursing home in Hove, East Sussex. Her husband Peter Butterworth died in 1979, aged 59, and she is survived by their son; a daughter predeceased her.
I seem to recall Janet Brown on "Who's Baby Are You"? with her son who was a dead ringer for his dad.
When I saw this post earlier I have to say that I was left gobsmacked with learning of Janet's passing!!! As a kid of the late 70's and early 80's I have fond memories of Janet and her impression's. It's hard to believe that she was 87 years of age....R.I.P
Sad news indeed, when I was small she was on telly so much and yes I also find it hard to credit she was 87.
R I P Ms Brown.
Very sad news. R.I.P. Janet.
I can remember her in the 1950's when I was a child. And of course, in my adult life when she appeared on television. Thankyou very much for the laughter you brought Janet. Please rest in peace.
Very sad news, having searched the net I managed to find this picture for the benefit of Cornershop, .http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/tv/chi...ig/satspec.jpg taken when they worked together on Saturday Special kids programme in the early fifties.
Thanks very much, Brigger. Janet looks totally different there. I haven't seen the film version of Bless This House for many years but it seems she was married to Julian Orchard and Peter's wife was Patsy Rowlands. I've just looked at the Joint Ventures for Janet Brown and Peter Butterworth at IMDb and found this was one of two films they appeared in. The other was the short A Home of Your Own, with Ronnie Barker.
As well as joining her husband on his This is Your Life, Janet was with him again in what turned out to be his final appearance on screen, an episode of game show Give Us a Clue, broadcast about six weeks after his death. But a month earlier Peter could be seen in his last acting role, the Alan Bennett play Afternoon Off.
This was shown on the eve of what would have been his 60th birthday, 3rd February 1979, and the day before that his film The First Great Train Robbery premiered in America. He died on the 16th of January. I remember it being reported in The Sun but not on the news. I was sad then and it's the same now, but I sincerely hope The Butterworths are happily reunited now. 32 years is a very long time.