With her unique mix of hilarious mimicry and sharp satire, Jan Ravens is one of the UK’s most successful impressionists. She is a long running star of BBC’s Dead Ringers and was recently a panellist on ITV’s The Imitation Game, appearing on the 2018 Royal Variety Show.
Her Theresa May impression has achieved cult status, going viral on social media and with over 1 million views on YouTube.
She is a regular contributor across BBC Radio 4, on programmes such as Just A Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, and also current affairs programmes such as Broadcasting House, The Week in Westminster and Today. Jan has acted in countless R4 dramas and comedies, most recently The Charles Paris Mysteries and Alexei Sayle’s The Absence of Normal.
Alongside her work on screen and radio, she achieved rave reviews and broke box office records with her solo show Difficult Woman. She has just completed a sellout tour with Rory Bremner and is now working on her 2019 Edinburgh show, Who Do I Think I Am?
Jan was brought up in Hoylake, near Liverpool, and studied Drama at Homerton College Cambridge, where she became the first woman president of the Footlights and went on to direct the revue, The Cellar Tapes, with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery, which won the first Perrier comedy award at the Edinburgh Festival.
Her career began at the BBC as a comedy producer, but she soon returned to performing. Early TV work includes Carrott’s Lib, where her impressions got her taken on for Spitting Image; and shows with Lenny Henry, Kenny Everett and Alexei Sayle. Jan also appeared on Big Impression with Alistair McGowan and Ronni Ancona, and on several of Rory Bremner’s shows.
TV acting credits include Hebburn, Big Bad World, Skins, Carla Lane’s Luv and Janet Grimley in The Grimleys. And Midsomer Murders. Of course.
Her stage work includes seasons at Chichester Festival Theatre, playing Hoyden opposite Richard Briers as Lord Foppington, Birmingham Rep, (Viola in Twelfth Night), Sophia in Tom Jones at Watford Palace Theatre, The Children's Hour and 5@50 at Manchester Royal Exchange, and Pentecost and After Easter at the RSC. She also stretched her playing age range by playing Phil Nichol’s mother in The Intervention, with the Comedians Theatre Group at Edinburgh.
She can soon be heard revealing secrets in My Teenage Diary with Rufus Hound for BBC Radio 4, and will be seen on Richard Osman’s House Of Games on BBC Two.
This will be Julia’s third play at Watford Palace Theatre. In 2018 she played Leonato in the all-female Much Ado About Nothing and nearly 20 years ago she appeared as Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea.
Her stage work is extensive, including several plays at the National Theatre and the West End in London. Recent roles include Margaret Thatcher in Handbagged (Theatre by the Lake, Keswick), Arkadina in The Seagull and Mrs Durrell in My Family and Other Animals (Theatre Royal, York), Esme in Amy’s View (Nottingham Playhouse) and last year a Scottish tour of JM Barrie’s The Twelve Pound Look in which she played Kate.
On television she is best known, perhaps, for playing Casualty's Dr Baz on and off for 18 years. She was Lyn Smallbridge in the long-running situation comedy Never the Twain and the mum in the ITV children’s show Welcome to Orty-fou. Other TV includes The Yellow Wallpaper (BBC Screen Two), Midsomer Murders, A Touch of Frost, Doctors.
Films include the Bollywood Baar Baar Dekho and the BAFTA nominated short The Karman Line.
She was the reciter in the world premiere of The Woman and the Hare (Sir Harrison Birtwistle/ David Harsent) with the Nash Ensemble. The CD recording received a Grammy nomination for best performance.
She edited three anthologies for Penguin: Poems and Readings for Weddings, Poems and Readings for Funerals, Poems and Readings for Christenings and Naming Ceremonies.