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Jane Asher

Jane Asher is the only celebrity on our list who became possibly more famous for her business acumen than her acting career. Jane Asher became synonymous with upmarket fun celebration cakes in the 1990s. She opened her Jane Asher Party Cakes & Sugarcraft shop in London’s smart Chelsea neighbourhood in 1990, where it remained open for over 25 years.

Her interest in food and cooking began at a young age, learning basic cookery skills from her mother. After leaving school at 15 to begin her acting career, she also took evening classes in classic French cooking at her local adult education institute, where baking became a special interest. Soon she began making celebration cakes at home.

Meanwhile, Jane Asher became the envy of young women in Swinging Sixties London as the girlfriend of Beatle Paul McCartney. She was only 17 when they met but already famous herself as a child star and young actress, later co-starring in Alfie with Michael Caine. Although Jane and her family – her mother taught oboe at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama – are credited with widening McCartney’s musical horizons, and he wrote several songs about her including And I Love Her, the relationship capsized, which McCartney himself accepts the blame for – pointing out that while everybody else who came into The Beatles’ orbit have written tell-all memoirs, Jane Asher has always maintained a dignified silence.

The man she did marry, illustrator Gerald Scarfe, remains Britain’s most highly regarded satirical cartoonist and Jane Asher herself is a shareholder in Private Eye magazine.

An actor friend, seeing some of Jane’s celebration cakes, suggested that she write a cookery book explaining how to make them and, after approaching several publishers, her first book, Jane Asher’s Party Cakes, was published in 1982, becoming a best-seller.

Jane Asher was the first celebration cake designer for Sainsbury’s and subsequently designed ranges of tableware and cookware for Debenhams, Matalan and even Poundland. She continues to sell her own range of baking homeware exclusively through At Home Bargains.

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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