Jane (BBC2, 1982)/Jane In The Desert (BBC2, 1984)
This is another show that I don’t remember watching at the time, but having read a little about it, I managed to track it down on YouTube, and I’ve decided to give it a review because there are a few rather interesting things about it. Jane is a comic strip that first appeared in the Daily Mirror in 1932 that had some rather risque content. It would probably be going to far to say that a glimpse of Jane’s stockings helped to win the war, but it was definitely a morale-booster for Britons at such a difficult time.
There was a film released in 1949 called The Misadventures Of Jane, with the strip ending in 1959, by which point Jane had become a famous pin-up. There was then a TV version in the 80s (that was just about a sitcom) that was rather notable. Firstly, it had a very distinctive style, thanks to the use of the latest technology. Now you should know by now that I am interested in shows that use the “comic strip come to life” idea such as Zzzap! of course, and this show used it to great effect, going on to win a Bafta for its graphic design.
The cast walked around and using blue-screen effects were added into animated backgrounds that were tinted various colours with greens and pinks everywhere. Also, Jane starred Glynis Barber, who would go on to further success in drama series including Dempsey And Makepeace, but I know her best for her role as Fiona in Night And Day, which was a wonderfully weird soap (no really, it was, honest).
The first series was set in 1940, and critics seemed to be rather fond of the show, it was described by one as “gloriously escapist, creative, funny, and nostalgic”. The second series was called Jane In The Desert. Other characters included The Colonel and the butler Tombs, and also among the cast were the likes of John “Fred off Coronation Street” Savident, a terrifically bearded Frank Thornton, Max Wall, and don’t forget faithful Fritz the dachshund either.
Both of these series consisted of five ten-minute episodes, that were shown on consecutive days. I must admit that I’ve rarely seen anything else on TV that had such a bold and distinctive style. Following this, there was another film in 1987 called Jane And The Lost City, but this didn’t use the comic strip effect or feature Barber. There has been no DVD release though.