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Jane Merrow October 08


I love watching old movies and I think ‘Oh that’s so and so’, I loved that, “I’ll just watch a bit for minute or two”. Of course I end up watching the whole thing.

I try to balance the couch potato thing, with golf, swimming and a rowing machine. (the real thing would probably be more fun)

Included in these favourites are the old Hammer films. I was lucky enough to do a couple including "The Night of the Big Heat". It was the first time I'd worked with director Terence Fisher since I made an uncredited appearance in Hammer's The Phantom of the Opera in 1962. I didn't have much contact with him then because I had a very small role - I was one of the girls auditioning for Michael Gough's opera.

Almost exactly five years later, it was a different story. Terence was a lovely man - a real gentleman. He was an important director, but at the time I think many people undervalued the films he was making. A lot of people were a bit snobbish about the Hammer Horrors, but what Terence achieved in those days was quite remarkable. There were some phenomenal achievements made by directors in the 40s, 50s and indeed the 60s in films like these. There was often no special effects department, and there were certainly no computer graphics, so directors like Terence had to do so much more themselves. He was terrific and I was very privileged to work with him.

The Hammer films had made international stars of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and I recall that Christopher's reputation preceded him. I was a bit intimidated by his persona, but he was kind and helpful, full of advice.Jane in Idaho

“Night of the Big Heat” was the first - and sadly the only - time I worked with Peter. He was a lovely, intelligent and gentle man.

Night Of The Big heat
"Night Of The Big Heat" in which a bikini seems appropriate. Actually it was freezing and we had to have glycerine "sweat" sprayed on us.

After Night of the Big Heat, I appeared in two productions, which I regard as highlights of my career - James Kennaway's play "Country Dance, in which I co-starred with Edward Fox, and James Goldman’s film of his play "The Lion in Winter" (1968), which earned me a Golden Globe nomination. On top of having a great part I worked with Katharine Hepburn, Peter O’Toole and Anthony Hopkins in his first film. I was disappointed that The Lion in Winter didn't open up my career to more theatre in this country, but it did bring me opportunities in Hollywood, when I went to live there after marrying my American husband.

Peter O’Toole gave me a piece of advice after we finished ‘The Lion in Winter;’ he told me to hide away somewhere in the theatre and do all the big roles. He said, "Make a fool of yourself, really stretch out". He was right, but it’s tempting to accept other good film parts and I did not follow the advice.- maybe a mistake. I was offered a lovely part in a film being made in Australia and the chance to work with John Mills and Beau Bridges, who was an up and coming American star at the time. The film ‘Adam’s Woman’ did not do well, but I had a wonderful time and another great part.

My motto in life is never look back and don’t regret what you have done. Just try to do better next time!

Although my marriage did not work out I loved and still love America. I have a little house there in Idaho near where my American son, Tom his wife Tami and their children live. This is a picture of me in the snows of the Idaho mountains on real snow shoes!


All content copyright Jane Merrow