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Jane was an unusual and rather experimental comic book comedy based on Norman Pett's newspaper strip who's main purpose was to keep up British soldiers moral during World War 2. Each shot is a recreation of a comic book panel, with all of the set and most of the props drawn in. There is very little colour and even all the actors are saturated to match the backgrounds in every frame (they seem to have been shot in black & white in front of a blue screen, if such a thing is even possible).
Gorgeous Glynnis Barber plays the scantily clad Jane who always seems to lose even the few clothes she has left on. Apart from that she basically plays it straight, being as she is surrounded by a cast of familiar English comedians. Mervyn Haisman wrote two five part serials (running time: less than ten minutes per episode) that were broadcast over the course of five weekdays in August '82 and September '84 respectively and a compilation shown the following Sunday. Just like the edited versions of Republic Serials, these omnibus editions downplay the cliffhangers and cut out most of the narration by Bob Danvers Walker.
In the first story Jane and her commanding officer Colonel Henry (Robin Bailey) face German spy Lola Pagola (Suzanne Danielle). In the second, her new chief is Commander L (Frank Thornton) and must they defeat Lola's sister Pola (Fiona Hendley). Both times she is assisted by Tombs the butler (Max Wall) and of course her little dog Fritz (who comments on the proceedings via superimposed speech bubbles).
The comic book vignettes are very imaginatively done, though it would have been nice if the actors didn't have green, blue or yellow faces in every other scene. Unfortunately the humour is more childish than naughty. It seems to be aimed at a much younger audience than all the titillation that Jane gets up to. But then again, most of the viewers would not have watched it (or be seeking it out now) for the laughs, but rather for the tantalizing teasing being done by Miss Barber. And those with enough patience to last all the way till the end will be treated with one brief flash from her at the very end as Neil Innes starts to sing his jolly theme tune. In that split second, she shows more skin than she did in Michael Winner's 'The Wicked Lady' (in which a body double was used).
Of course a year after the second serial, Glynis became a star as the second half of 'Dempsey and Makepeace'. It's just a shame she didn't get to reprise the role of Jane in the 1987 feature 'Jane and the Lost City' (writer Haisman and actor Robin Bailey did return). She could have brought some real class to that stinker.
7 out of 10
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