Hungerford Entertainer Jane Buckle

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first met up with Hungerford’s entertainer Jane Buckle to find out how she became ‘Miss Viper’ and what her life is like now she is on the telly. But I discovered there’s more to this year old dynamo than meets the eye. Now 68 years old (we think, but who’s counting…?), Jane has several years of experience in the limelight (and shares these tips for anyone who wants to get on telly).

Jane now has her own IMdB page which lists an impressive 6 acting credits and 11 reality TV credits. Her page also gives her height: 4’10” and her trademark: ‘The Splits’.

Her reality TV show appearances have ranged from Come Dine with Me and Big Brother’s Bit on the Side to getting a snake tattoo on Tattoo Fixers (which has had over half a million views). 

But how did this all start for Jane at the ripe old age of 64?

How did it all start?

“Everyone I’ve been close to has died including my parents, my husband, my step-mother and my best friend,” reflects Jane. “I entertain people to block out the sadness. Otherwise I’d be taking pills. I looked after my Dad for 4 years and he was lovely company even though he was very sick. I really miss him every day.

Jane Buckle leg kick

“When he died I had a gap in my life so I had a go at everything. I tried body balance classes with Beejacks and discovered that I was very flexible for my age and can do the splits and twirl on one leg 360 degrees.

“This became the inspiration for my act. I had done some acting training at college but I have never made it to drama school so I focus on my dancing.

“With my husband I enjoyed amateur dramatics with Hungerford Theatre Company. He always got bigger parts than me and he would be proud of what I’m doing now.

“My friend Nick Lumley who I admire very much as an actor suggested I audition with the Ugly Model agency in London. I felt very nervous but excited about the Miss Viperish act I’d made up.

“I’d bought a snake from the Pageants fancy dress shop in Newbury and he became my lucky charm (I was born the year of the snake in 1953) and inspired my stage name .I was the only one who dressed up for the auditions so I really stood out”.

Jane Buckle, snake & Rochelle Hume

Jane’s first job was to appear on a video for American rap band Wu Tang Nans. Next was the Channel 4 series OAPs Behaving Badly in June 2015. They filmed her at After Dark nightclub in Reading, Pageants in Newbury and up at the cemetery where she spends a lot of time visiting her family.

After OAPs the X Factor contacted her. She told them she couldn’t sing and they said it doesn’t matter you’re an entertainer and we want you to come. She still had to go through the awful queuing process and they put you in pens like animals. Reems of people come from all over the world and queue for 12 hours for the X Factor auditions.

“You’ve got to be determined, hungry and assertive as it’s a competitive and fickle business,” explains Jane. “I had to go through 3 auditions and in the end they wanted me to perform Born to be Wild instead of Hippy Hippy Snake. I was so nervous I had to insist on going on earlier than scheduled – I couldn’t stand the wait. But when I got on that huge stage it was incredible – I loved it”.

The secret to Simon Cowell, Jane says, is to be humble. He said take that snake off Jane Buckle and she said alright Simon! Rita Ora said she nearly wet herself laughing and Nick Grimshawe described her like Britney Spears with a hangover.

“Of all the well known people I’ve met I think Rochelle Hume is the nicest,” reflects Jane. “She was a commentator on the Extra Factor and she put in a word with Simon Cowell not to be harsh with me as she thought I was cute and I wasn’t pretending to be a good singer – I just wanted to entertain people”.

So what is life like now Jane is a reality TV star?

“I’ve earnt a bit from my TV appearances but it doesn’t cover my costs like transport and costumes. My entertaining is definitely a hobby not a job!,” says Jane.

“I always say to young people don’t do sex and drugs – be clean but be flamboyant in your appearance. Unless you’re a serious actor you won’t make it unless you stand out and are different. Dance instead of doing drugs. Young people don’t seem to respect themselves or be confident in themselves. I don’t do drink and sex and if people think I’m shocking then I can’t help but I think they’re often hypocritical. They probably do more behind closed doors than I do.

“I feel alive. I’ve been on the tube in London with a rubber snake and blow-up doll and people stare at me and join in with my fun and entertainment. I want to live life to the full.

“Nick is proper actor. I’ve just got my personality but people seem to like it and I know what the TV people want and they know they can rely on me to deliver. But I don’t watch my programmes more than once. I haven’t got time to be honest and it is quite strange to watch yourself on camera.

“I applied to the StarNow website for Come Dine with Me and they came to visit me and I danced in the kitchen and showed them my virgin unused oven. When my Dad died I decided not to do any more cooking or domestic life. I’d done enough of that over the years. I was tired and fed up.

“The show was broadcast on 24 February 2016 and I came last but I didn’t mind. I never expect to win. The participation was all that mattered. 

That’s what my Dad used to say – trying your best is all that matters. And at least we got £125 to cover our costs for the food and wine.

Jane Buckle Come Dine with Me

“I was cheerleader for TV personality Paddy McGuinness on Sports Relief in March 2016 with another elderly lady who was in her eighties and more frail than me. I helped her get changed. She was also with Ugly who got us both the job. It was live but I had it all planned so I wasn’t nervous.

“That’s when I met Will Young and told him I was from Hungerford and he was very affectionate and the kind of person who relates to anyone. I’m not in awe of the famous people I meet. I treat everyone the same and they seem to like it. My favourite people so far are Simon Cowell, Rochelle Hume and Will Young.

“Then Uglies got me Party Pensioners in May 2016 (they changed the name to Sex, Drugs & Bingo). They filmed me in Hungerford High Street and I’m proud of showing how friendly and beautiful Hungerford is . They also filmed me in the cemetery and at the Uglies agency and visiting an agent in Hastings. I got paid a bit but Channel 5 have sold the series to MTV – so they must have made a packet on the series.”

Jane doesn’t have an agent. She had a bad experience a couple of years ago with losing control of her website so now she likes to run everything herself. It’s hard work but luckily she is quite an organised person and full of energy which is just as well as she doesn’t drive and has to travel the country by public transport.

The list of shows Jane has been in goes on: she applied to Big Brother and got onto a Bit on the Side – they love her clothes because most people don’t have the courage to dress up. She also got through Stage 1 & 2 of Britain’s Got Talent doing Granny Rap. She didn’t expect to get further than that as they competition is so fierce but she was glad they thought she was inspirational and energetic.Through StarNow she also got a part in a film called Happy Days by Nepalese producer Milan Chams and is appearing on BBC 3’s The Nail Bar talking about Donald Trump and how folk tend to stereotype people her age. She is doing pilots for the Jokebox with Lane Goodman in March and a keep fit video for the Showreel. The Real Car Share. A True Life documentary with Natalie Biancheri. She even swapped fur coats with Jo Lycett in The Wierd, the Wild and the Whacky.

But charity work is Jane’s favourite thing as she feels like she is giving back after the good fortune she’s had. “I perform at events for Boys Beating Cancer based in Newbury. I did a video in London for Age UK and I’ve performed in Bromley in Kent for St Christopher’s Hospice,” explains Jane.

“When I die I don’t want to be anonymous. My YouTube channel has had about 15,000 views. I would like to have more but that’s the way it is – you always want more. It’s addictive.

“I’m into mischief like a kid. I suppose I live in a fantasy world because I’ve seen seven people I care about die and it stays with you. It never goes away. But I can hear them saying to me make the most of your life. I know I’m an exhibitionist. The older I get the worse I get but I just say to people, get out there and go and see the world. I’m like the phoenix rising from the ashes. I feel lucky now.”

And I thought – good for you Jane.

How to Follow Jane Buckle

To find out more about Jane’s latest appearances follow:

Jane Buckle OAP! on facebook

Jane Buckle YouTube Channel


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