Jan Leeming Blog

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



2019 - January (3)
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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

GREETINGS to my followers

Date: 30th January 2019

Dear All, 

Apologies for neglecting you for so long but I’ve been busy working on a project and I also find that Twitter is taking up more time than it should.

I tend to report goings on through Twitter because I have to keep my news to very limited characters. As I’m verbose and tend to write essays on my Website it takes much longer.

If you are interested in keeping up to date my Twitter account is @Jan_Leeming and I’ll be pleased to welcome you on board.

I’ve had no travel to report as, sadly, Just You didn’t renew my Ambassadorship this year. However I did have some great adventures with the company and am grateful for my 2 years with them. Needless to say I’ve not been doing that amount of travelling so haven’t got any shots of beautiful places to share with you.

My Project is something I thought about 10 years ago and simply couldn’t get any company in the UK to take it on board. Then through Twitter I became friends with an English man living in the States who ‘believed in me’. He’s put together a website and I’ve funded a promo which will probably be active by the end of the week and then dropped into the web. I’m afraid I’ve become very cynical in my old age and TV ideas are very easy to ‘crib’ (have had it done before and it’s very difficult to copyright an idea). Consequently the Website can only be opened with a password which I shall jealously guard??

However, if the idea is picked up and goes into production then I shall tell all. Please wish me luck - everyone to whom I’ve told the story can’t understand why the idea hasn’t been grabbed. Sadly everything has changed so much. In the old days of BBC1, BBC2 and ITV anyone could write to a Commissioning Editor with a suggestion - if the Editor thought it might work the proposal would be passed down to production and often the idea would be taken up and the programme made. Now, one cannot approach a Commissioning Editor - it has to be done through a Production Company of which there are legions and one simply doesn’t know who to approach. The more people you approach and tell about the idea the more chance you have of it being ‘stolen’.

It would be wonderful if the series gets made in the States - they actually fund series very well and pay ‘real money’. My prime aim is to see my idea come to fruition.

I had the same problem when I tried to have a documentary made about the Free French pilot #RenéMouchotte. I spent 6 years - on and off - researching and visiting France and Belgium where he was laid to rest after washing up on a beach at Westende near Middlekerke. He was repatriated and lies in his family tomb in #PèreLachaise Cemetery in Paris. It was in the tomb that I left a letter and was contacted by a member of his family and the rest, as they say, is history.

I sent the proposal to Yesterday who turned it down saying he wasn’t ‘famous’ enough. The History Channel said it was Military - it wasn’t - it was the story of a very courageous Man. BBC2 and BBC4 sat on it for months and then turned it down. Finally I met someone who knew the Commissioning Editor for BBC South East and I got a short documentary spot on the Regional Programme ‘Inside Out’. The inserts are usually only 6 to 7 minutes long but the Producer couldn’t get it below 15 minutes - the viewing figures that week doubled!!!!!! Then BBCSouth East ‘gave’ the programme to BBC South and BBC North. All in all about 1 million people saw it.

I’m so please that all my hard work paid off and René got some of the recognition he deserved but the story really needed at least a half hour. ‘Searching for René’ remains the piece of work of which I am most proud during my 50 years in Television. I researched, wrote and presented it.

If my new Project take off, I shall be over the moon. It will also prove that so many in the TV industry do not ‘think outside the box’.

See - once I get going at the keyboard, I write and write and write.??

Please do have a look on Twitter - @Jan_Leeming - there’s so much of interest on there.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


Date: 30th January 2019

There's another series of "Marigolds on Tour" and I was lucky enough to be asked to film in Argentina.

Just been told that the programme will go out on BBC 1 on Wednesday 20th February at 9.00 pm.

Once I'm given the go ahead I'll post some of the photos I took in Buenos Aires.  Also I might be able to tell you who were my travelling companions - mostly different from before and delightful to be with.

Hope you enjoy it - I certainly enjoyed getting a small glimpse of the Argentinian way of life.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


Date: 29th January 2019


I went up to York to make the Promotion for my Series Idea. My best friend lives at Barwick in Elmet and another friend suggested a Production Company in York so I combined business with a visit.

A friend of my friend asked me if I’d do a little piece of advertising for @NelliesTree which is being entered into European Tree of the Year Competition 2019 having won the British Tree of the Year in 2018.

I was expecting to do a little piece on the Video of a mobile phone but they’d got the services of a professional cameraman (who incidentally used to work with my friend Sue) Tony Mewse.

Nellie’s Tree - In 1920 on the Parlington Estate near Aberford (Leeds) a young man trained some saplings into an “N” to impress his sweetheart. He won her heart and the rest is history.

My website won't accept the download - maybe later.  However you could look up European Tree of the Year and cast a vote - I think the site becomes active in a few days.

Many thanks




What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


Date: 8th November 2018

I am not stupid although not totally brilliant on Phone Apps etc.

Today I needed to go to London for a Memorial Service.  I decided to drive to Ashford International because there are more trains to London. I arrived there with a half hour to spare before the 10.12 train.   I  had booked and paid in advance to park in Car Park B.  Yes, they do say this does not guarantee a parking space but they don't give you any directions to the Overflow Carpark.  By the time I found the Overflow which was FULL I had missed my train.  One person was about to leave and I was finally able to park - needless to say I arrived a quarter of an hour late for the Memorial Service.

I had made and paid for a 3 day Car Parking as I have to return to London tomorrow and will have to overnight to attend various Remembrance functions on Saturday.   After today's fiasco, I will not be trying to park at Ashford again.  

Yes there is a very small car park at the bottom of the hill close to my home and the local Station BUT you can't put money into a machine you have to book through the Indigo Parking App.  I had problems with this months ago and have avoided parking there since.  I have now spent one hour trying to book parking for two days.  I downloaded the new app and after much trial and error put in all the details and thought I was there - NO - the site was showing an old card number and I was totally unable to change it.  I phoned and yet again all I got was ten minutes worth of 'If you want to hear the options again please press 0 ......   PERLEASE .....  I just want to talk to a person.

I've tried emailing through the App. and the email won't sen.   I've read on the Internet that this App is C..p!  And it certainly is.

As I cannot make my booking I'm now going to have to spend 15 minutes driving to another station - a waste of time, petrol and bad for the environment.

I'm totally fed up.  Why can't we just put money into a machine - Oh! I suppose they'd have to employ staff and we can't do that can we!  What on earth is going to happen to future generations when almost everything is being done remotely, by robots and AI.

I'm so glad I am the age I am and won't have to be dealing with all this frustration for too much longer. I'm now going to pour myself a large brandy and try to calm down.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


Date: 29th October 2018

Invited to give the After Dinner talk at the FIBIS Conference, I learned that it was recorded and can now be viewed on line - but only if invited by myself or a FIBIS Member.  Had I been aware of it being recorded I'd not have worn the distracting dangly earrings.This is the link.


I talked about my Family and it's association with India - my father having been born in the Nilgiri Hills and our family going back almost 200 years in India.  I also gave the audience a glimpse behind the scenes of when we filmed 'Real Marigold Hotel' in India 3 years ago.  Gosh, is it that long.  Where does time go.  I remember longing to be 18 and adults telling me not to wish my life away as it would go quickly enough when I was older.  How right they were.  Months and years go by now at the rate of an express train - going downhill!

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


Date: 22nd October 2018

Went to Canterbury Cathedral yesterday to carry out my normal Assisting Duty and was taken aback by this superb massive Horse in the Cathedral Grounds. I'd no idea why it was there but on reading the placard discovered that it has been erected to Commermorate the 8 MILLION (yes 8 MILLION) horses who died during WW1

Horses seem to be crossing my path of late.  Only a fortnight ago I had the pleasure of interviewing #Grant Hayter Menzies on his excellent book telling the story of Dorothy Brooke and the #BrookeCharity which cares for Equines and has done so since the 1930's.  The event was held at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst which, of itself, was a very interesting place to visit.

Don't know how long this lovely creation will be in situ - but if you are anywhere near Canterbury it is worth a visit.


What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.

FIBIS CONFERENCE - Families in British India Society

Date: 16th October 2018

My father was born and brought up in India and came to the UK just before Partition.  He was 13 when his mother died and as he said 'At thirteen I wasn't interested in family history' but he did tell me the family went back to the time of Clive of India around 1750 and, as far as he knew, he was the first of the immediate family to return to the UK.  Sadly his Father's second wife also died and her adult children took our family bible - heaven knows why as it was of no use to them but there you are - a whole heap of our traceable history lost (unless Mrs. Kelly's offspring still have it and would like to return it to us ??- I'd pay to have the book returned as the history it contains would be priceless to our family.)

I've no idea whether the Atkins went out with the military or to work for the East India Company and I've only got the marriage certificates of my Grandfather and Great Grandfather - so not a lot to go on!

I only wish my father and I had known about FIBIS before he died 4 years ago - he would have been so interested in trying to trace his history.

So I was delighted when asked to give the after dinner Talk at the Oxford Conference a few weeks ago.  I opted to go for the whole weekend and what a treat was in store.  We had so many interesting talks from how to trace your ancestry through DNA; behind the scenes of #WhoDoYouThinkYouAre; the formation of the renowknowned Gurkhas; the trek out of Burma and into India during WW1 after the Japanese Invasion and a whole lot more.  We were spoiled for choice.  

I was a trifle nervous after all the experts and was hoping my talk would amuse and be interesting. Until shortly beforehand,  I wasn't aware that it would be recorded and used on the FIBIS Website.  I didn't mind but wish I'd not worn those distracting earrings and had, maybe, structured it differently.  However the audience seemed to enjoy it and I've been sent a link so that, if you've 50 minutes to spare you can watch it too.  https://youtu.be/npb2Ohmgqkg   

I hope you are able to copy and paste the link as it's not come up in active blue - you can see how untechnical I am.

Really hope you'll enjoy it and if any of you are interested in India or are related to anyone who was British born in India you might like to join FIBIS - it's not expensive and opens up a world of opportunity to discover more about your family background.

Bye for now,  Jan

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.

THE BROOKE Charity Supporters' Day

Date: 16th October 2018

I don't ride and have never owned a horse but I love them and think they are the most noble of creatures. Not sure why I was chosen but was delighted to be asked to attend their Supporters' Day at the wonderful Sandhurst Military Academy and to interview #GrantHayterMenzies about his book telling the story of Dorothy Brooke and how @TheBrooke Charity came into being.

I arrived at the tail end of the morning session and only wish I'd been there sooner.  Representatives from Brooke Hospitals around the world were there to talk about their ongoing work in treating Equines and educating the owners.  As was pointed out, one cannot blame these poor people for their lack of education and ill treatment of the very animals who provide them with a livelihood - they have to be taught how precious is the well being of this very important member of their 'family'.

Dorothy Brooke was a remarkable woman who did so  very much to improve the lot of the poor horses most of whom had been left behind after WW1 - it was considered too expensive to bring them back.  She first saw some skeletal horses pulling Gharries and then noticed they bore the Army mark on their Flanks and she set about doing something to ease their plight.

She made an appeal to the public back in the Uk and received a tremendous response financially even though we were suffering a depression.  She had to overcome many obstacles not least because she was a woman.  Very often the most she could do was to buy these horses from their owners and put them out of their suffering usually after a day or two when they were given mash and other 'luxuries' which had been sadly lacking from their wretched lives.  Her hospital offered help in many ways - not least in giving the poor owners basic lessons in how best to look after their 'work horses'.  

It wasn't just horses it was all equines - the poor donkeys in the brick works and down the mines carrying far more than they were able and often with terrible sores from ill fitting harness.

I won't tell you any more - but if you are interested the book is called 'The Lost War Horses of Cairo' by Grant Hayter Menzies. What a lovely gentleman and such a pleasure to interview.  He has given 40% of the proceeds from his book to The Brooke.  He also hopes that someone might be interested in making a film of Dorothy Brooke's work and again would give 40% of any profits - just think what that would do for The Brooke and it's hospitals and all it's 'Patients'.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


Date: 15th October 2018

Hallo Everyone,

There must have been a repeat of a programme because my viewer figures went up greatly.

I keep apologizing for not writing my blogs like I used to do.  It's for two reasons - one this house move has been simply dreadful.  I was unaware of a thing called 'Snagging' with a new house - of which I had two pages of 'snags' but also there have been other matters which were simply 'shoddy workmanship' and I've now had to pay out to have work done which I shouldn't have had to do but trying to get the Developers to do anything is well nigh impossible and I didn't want the outside problems to become even worse over the winter.

Also when I became Ambassador for Just You Holidays they wanted me to have a Twitter Account or write them up on Facebook.  As I like writing and would have written essays on Facebook?? I decided it was easier to have a Twitter account and have built up a following of 2,500.  It's much easier to Tweet and it does 'contain me'.  If you'd like to follow me on Twitter its @Jan_Leeming.  I retweet a lot of 'stuff' about animal welfare but also write about my goings on.  

Recently I attended a FIBIS Conference - Families in British India Society - which was fascinating and gave a talk which will be put on line so I might publish the link.  It will be on YouTube but not there for the general public.

I was also asked to interview the author of a book on Dorothy Brooke who founded the Charity which looks after Equines in the Middle and Far East.  Grant Hayter-Menzies was a lovely man to interview and I think we got across the essence of the book.  The event was the Annual Supporters' Day and it was held at Sandhurst Military Academy - that was a privilege simply being there.

My father was in the Army and was based at Woolwich. I'd no idea that prior to its move to Sandhurst the Military Acadamy had been at Woolwich.

I'll write a bit more fully about FIBIS and also The Brooke.   And remember if you want to catch up with me more regularly its @Jan_Leeming on Twitter.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.

Mrs Thatcher's Party

Date: 21st July 2018

Mrs Thatcher's Party I'm totally bemused that my name has appeared with a Question Mark in Dennis Thatcher's list. During my 7 years of reading News for the BBC I believed that it was essential to remain ?Neutral? even though I had strong feelings on many issues ! I tend to lean towards Conservative with a small ?c? but am probably more of a liberal. In those 7 years I did not even attend a Conservative Fund raising Fete. More than a year after I had left the BBC I felt free to embrace my political leanings and was only too happy to support the Conservatives at the Wembley Rally. I remember the event well because I felt honoured when asked to read a letter of support from Yehudi Menuhin. And what did I get for my support - a castigating in the Telegraph!! (Often referred to as the Torygraph). They declared that as a newsreader I should be non political. My job had long since ended and I was still not free to support the party of my choice. At that time I was also engaged to present a Conference in the North. On seeing my attendance at the Wembley Rally my Agent was phoned and told because of my political leanings the engagement would be cancelled!!! I am sure that being Right and not Left leaning has affected my career. But I am true to my beliefs and resigned from the NUJ because of them. Bad move on my part! I often wonder why Left leaning people tend to occupy the moral high ground and will rarely engage in discourse. I no longer believe that we live in a free society with freedom of speech. We are ruled by a vociferous minority - those who shout loudest do not necessarily represent the majority. The tenets of communism and Marxism are superb and it would be wonderful if we lived in a world without inequality and where all were equal but Real Life is not like that. You only have to look at the story of the talents of silver in the bible. Three were given a talent of silver each - one man buried his talent; another hoarded it and the third doubled his money. All were given the same but they used the wealth differently. We are all equal in the sight of God - but not in real life!! I'm so sorry that I did not receive an invite to the party. I had great respect for Mrs Thatcher who was very kind and considerate to me when we met at an SOS fund raising party. She made a point of breaking her walk to enquire as to my health after I'd been mugged within the supposedly secure portals of Television Centre. Can't see Blair or Cameron doing something like that.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.