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Janet Stephanie Francis
5 August 1947
Francis was born at the former Charing Cross Hospital near Trafalgar Square, London. She is the eldest child of Frank Francis, a clerical officer with the Agricultural Society, and Marjorie (née Watling), an employment agent, who were married in 1944. She was raised in Streatham and was educated at the Lady Edridge Grammar School.
After training as a dancer at the Royal Ballet Senior School from which she graduated in 1965, Francis performed with the Royal Ballet Touring Company in Britain, in the rest of Europe and the United States. Francis left the Royal Ballet in September 1969 to pursue an acting career.
Francis made the transfer to becoming an actress through choreography, and performed with the Cheltenham Repertory Company between 1969 and 1970. She first appeared on television in 1971, before landing BBC Television drama roles including Kschessinska in Fall of Eagles and Lisa Colbert in Secret Army (1977–78). She appeared in Dracula (1979) as Mina Van Helsing with Laurence Olivier as Abraham Van Helsing.
She played the part of Susie Dean in Alan Plater's adaptation of the J. B. Priestley novel The Good Companions (1980) which was produced by Yorkshire Television. Writer John Sullivan met Francis and later created her best-known part, Penny Warrender, in the 1980s BBC sitcom Just Good Friends.
In 2006, she guest starred in ITV prison drama Bad Girls as interior designer Catherine Earlham, who was sent to Larkhall on remand for embezzlement. The character played a key role in the exit storyline for fellow inmate Darlene Cake (Antonia Okonma). She is also a regular performer, and part of the original cast, of the touring play Seven Deadly Sins Four Deadly Sinners.
In 2009, she appeared as Julia in the second series of Mistresses on BBC1. In November 2009, she starred in the ITV drama Collision. She also played a love interest for Rodney Blackstock in ITV soap opera Emmerdale, in 2010.
Francis married the actor-writer Martin Thurley in Newton Abbot on 1 August 1977; he writes using the pseudonym Thomas Ellice. They have two daughters Josephine (b. 1982) and Anna (b. 1988), and reside in Woodchurch, Kent.
- At The Garden – including Swan Lake Act II (BBC 1968) – a cygnet
- The Ken Dodd Show (LWT 1969) – various sketches
- Ballet for All – No 3 (of 7) (Thames 1970) – Swanhilda
- The Fenn Street Gang – Series 1, Episode 12 (of 21) (LWT 1970) – Shirley Matthews
- Anne of Green Gables (BBC 1972) – Diana Barry
- Swiss Cottage (BBC 1972) – Stephanie
- The Long Chase (BBC 1972) – Susan Fraser
- The Magistrate (BBC 1972) – Popham
- Country Matters – Series 2, Episode 7 (of 7): The Four Beauties (Granada 1973) – Sophie Davenport
- Thriller (UK TV series) – Episode 8 (of 43): File It Under Fear (ATV 1973) – Gillie Randall
- Doctor in Charge – Series 2, Episode 9 (of 13): The Pool (LWT 1973) – Diana
- Hawkeye The Pathfinder (BBC 1973) – Mabel Dunham (Magnet)
- Play for Today: The Lonely Man's Lover (BBC 1974) – Lizzie
- Fall of Eagles – Episode 5 (of 13): "The Last Tsar" (BBC 1974) – Kschessinska
- Rooms: "Jan & Tony" (Parts 1 & 2) (First 2 episodes of 127) (Thames 1974) – Jan
- Anne of Avonlea (BBC 1975) – Diana Barry
- The Duchess of Duke Street - Series 1, Episodes 14 and 15 (of 15) - Irene Baker
- Raffles - Episode 9 "A Bad Night" (ITV 1977) - Netje
- Secret Army (BBC 1977-8) – Lisa Colbert ("Yvette")
- Ripping Yarns episode "Roger of the Raj" (BBC 1978) – Miranda
- Casting the Runes (ITV, 1979): an adaptation of the story by M. R. James – Prudence
- Tales of the Unexpected (TV series) (1982) episode "Death Can Add" - Leila Graham
- Just Good Friends: (BBC 1983–86) 22 episodes & Christmas special – Penny Warrender
- Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (ITV 1984) episode "Corvini Inheritance" – Eva Bailey
- Minder, "Life in the Fast Food Lane" (Series 6, episode 2) (1985) – Sarah Bates
- Stay Lucky 1989 – 1992.
- Heartbeat Love Hurts, Series 11, 2 episodes 1993
- Under the Hammer (ITV, 1994) 7 episodes – Maggie Perowne
- The Ghostbusters of East Finchley (BBC, 1995) 2 episodes – Grace
- Jeremy Hardy Gives Good Sex (video 1995)
- Sunburn 1 episode
- New Tricks (2007)
- The Invisibles (2008) 1 episode
- Mistresses (BBC 2009) 2 episodes
- Collision (BBC 2009) 4 episodes
- Emmerdale (ITV 2010) 3 episodes
- My Family (BBC) 1 episode
- I Want My Wife Back (BBC 2016) – Paula
- Next of Kin (ITV 2018)
- The Sleeping Beauty (1969) ... Royal Ballet (1969)
- The Farmer's Wife (1969) ... Cheltenham Repertory Company, as Susan Maine
- Sleeping Beauty (1969–1970) ... Pantomime, as Fairy Dreamawhile
- The Boyfriend (1970) ... as Maisie (& Lolita)
- When Did You Last See My Mother (1970) ... at The Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court, as Linda
- Cinderella (1970) ... at the Manchester Opera House
- Play It Again Sam (1971) ... at the New Theatre, Bromley as one of Barbara and the Dream Girls
- The Heiress (1971) ... as Marian Almond
- Romance! (1971) ... at the Duke of York's Theatre, London as Lotte
- Out of Bounds (1973) ... Bristol Old Vic Company as Ermyntrude Johnson
- Lend Me A Tenor (1986) ... at the Globe Theatre, London as Maggie
- Hay Fever (1988) ... at the Chichester Festival Theatre as Myra Arundel
- 'Dear Ralph' A Valentine's Day Gala (1993) ... at the London Palladium as a Host for the Evening
- Seven Deadly Sins Four Deadly Sinners (2004–2008) ... at various theatres on tour
- An Evening at Le Candide (2006) ... at the King's Head Theatre, London