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Janet Michelle Ellis (born 16 September 1955)[1] is an English television presenter and actress, best known for presenting the BBC children's television programmes Blue Peter and the award-winning Jigsaw between 1979 and 1987. She is also well known as being the mother of the singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and the drummer (and former child actor) Jackson Ellis-Leach.


Early lifeEdit

Ellis was born in Chatham, KentEngland. Her father was a soldier, stationed during her childhood at various places in England and Germany. Accordingly, she attended seven schools in the two countries, including Russell House School between the ages of five and seven, and St Hilary's between the ages of 11 and 13 (both in Sevenoaks, Kent), and from the ages of 13 to 17 her last school was Richmond County School for Girls in Surrey. Having expressed an interest in acting since the age of five, she applied to and was accepted by the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, but was asked to defer her entry for a year as she was considered to be too young. She spent the year gaining experience of the acting world by working backstage at the Comedy Theatre in central London and as an assistant stage manager at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.


Personal lifeEdit

Ellis met her first husband, TV director Robin Bextor, at the age of 16 and married him in 1977 when she was 21. Their daughter Sophie was born in 1979. However, the couple separated during her time presenting Blue Peter. She met TV producer John Leach on the set of Blue Peter in 1986, and their son Jackson was born in 1987. After leaving Blue Peter Ellis married Leach and they had another child, daughter Martha-Rose, in 1991. Ellis has spoken publicly of the ten miscarriages she suffered while trying for a fourth child. Away from the television Ellis is a frequent contributor to children's charity Scene & Heard.

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