Janet Street-Porter

Janet Street-Porter

Janet Street-Porter in 2005
Born Janet Vera Ardern
(1946-12-27) 27 December 1946
Brentford, Middlesex, England
Years active 1969–present
Known for Editor of The Independent on Sunday
Television I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!
Loose Women
Celebrity MasterChef
A Taste of Britain
Spouse(s) Tim Street-Porter (m. 1967–75)
Tony Elliott (m. 1975–77)
Frank Cvitanovich (m. 1979–81)
David Sorkin (m. 1997–99)
Partner(s) Peter Spanton (1999–present)
Website Official website
Janet Street-Porter's voice
from the BBC programme Desert Island Discs, 23 November 2008.[1]

Janet Street-Porter, CBE (born 27 December 1946; née Ardern; previously Bull) is an English celebrity, media personality, journalist and broadcaster. She was editor for two years of The Independent on Sunday, but relinquished the job to become editor-at-large in 2002.[2] She has made numerous television appearances on discussion programmes including Question Time, reality shows including I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! and Celebrity MasterChef and on panel games including Have I Got News for You. Since 2011, she has been a regular panellist on the ITV lifestyle and chat show Loose Women.

Early life

Street-Porter was born in Brentford, Middlesex, the daughter of Stanley W G Bull, an electrical engineer who had served as a sergeant in the Royal Corps of Signals in World War II and Cherry Cuff Ardern (née Jones) who was Welsh[3] and worked as a school dinner lady and in the civil service as a clerical assistant in a tax office.[4] Her mother was still married to her first husband, George Ardern, at the time, and was not to marry Stanley until 1954, hence her name being recorded thus in the birth records. She was later to take her father's surname.[4]

Street-Porter grew up in Fulham, west London and Perivale, Greater London after the family moved there when she was 14 and the family would stay in her mother's home town of Llanfairfechan in North Wales for their holidays.[4] She attended Peterborough Primary and Junior Schools in Fulham and Lady Margaret Grammar School for Girls (now Lady Margaret School) in Parsons Green from 1958 to 1964 where she passed 8 O-levels and 3 A-levels in English, History and Art. She also took an A-level in pure mathematics but did not pass the exam. Whilst studying A-levels, she had an illegal abortion.[5] She then spent two years at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, where she met her first husband, photographer Tim Street-Porter.[4][6]


Street-Porter dropped out of college and found media work. After a brief stint at a girls' magazine called Petticoat, she joined the Daily Mail in 1969, where she became the deputy fashion editor.[7] Street-Porter became fashion editor of the Evening Standard in 1971.[6]

When the LBC local radio station began to broadcast in 1973, Street-Porter co-presented a mid-morning show with Fleet Street columnist Paul Callan.[8] The intention was sharply to contrast the urbane Callan and the urban Street-Porter. Their respective accents became known to the station's studio engineers as "cut-glass" and "cut-froat." Friction between the ill-sorted pair involved constant one-upmanship that made for compelling listening.

In early 1975, Street-Porter was launch editor of Sell Out, an offshoot of the London listings magazine Time Out, with its publisher and her second husband, Tony Elliott. The magazine was not a success.[9]


Street-Porter started in television at LWT in 1975, first as a reporter on a series of mainly youth-oriented programmes, including The London Weekend Show (1975–79), then went on to present the late-night chat show Saturday Night People (1978–80) with Clive James and Russell Harty. She later produced Twentieth Century Box (1980–82), presented by Danny Baker.[6]

Street-Porter was editor of the Network 7 series on Channel Four from 1987. In the same year, BBC2 controller Alan Yentob appointed her to become head of youth and entertainment features, making her responsible for the twice-weekly DEF II. She commissioned Rapido, Red Dwarf and Rough Guide,[10] and she was behind the cancellation of the long-running music series The Old Grey Whistle Test.[11] Her Network 7 show was awarded a BAFTA for its graphics in 1988.

In 1992, Street-Porter provided the story for The Vampyr: A Soap Opera, the BBC's adaptation of Heinrich August Marschner's opera Der Vampyr, which featured a new libretto by Charles Hart. Street-Porter's approach did not endear her to critics, who objected to her diction and questioned her suitability as an influence on Britain's youth.[10] In her final year at the BBC, she became head of independent commissioning. She left the BBC for Mirror Group Newspapers in 1994 to become joint-managing director with Kelvin MacKenzie[10] of the ill-fated L!VE TV channel. She left after four months.[6] In 1996, Street-Porter set up her own production company. Since 1996, Street-Porter has appeared several times on the BBC panel game Have I Got News for You, most recently in May 2016.[12] Since 1998, Street-Porter has appeared annually on BBC's Question Time except in 2013.

In 2000, Street-Porter was nominated for the "Mae West Award for the Most Outspoken Woman in the Industry" at Carlton Television's Women in Film and Television Awards.[6] In 2004, Street-Porter was a contestant on the ITV series I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! where she finished in fourth place. In 2006, Street-Porter appeared regularly on chef Gordon Ramsay's The F-Word, as a "field correspondent." It was her job to locate outlandish or unusual food such as crocodile and then tempt diners to have a taste. In the third series of the show, Street-Porter caused controversy when she attempted to serve up horse meat at Cheltenham Racecourse. She was thwarted by the police, who described the stunt as highly provocative, and she had to dish the meat out elsewhere. Ramsay himself became the target of animal rights protesters, who dumped a ton of horse manure outside his restaurant at Claridge's.[13] In 2007, Street-Porter starred in an ITV2 reality show called Deadline, serving as a tough-talking editor who worked with a team of celebrity "reporters" whose job it was to produce a weekly gossip magazine. The celebrities in question had to endure the Street-Porter tongue as she decided each week which of them to fire.[14]

In 2011, Street-Porter became a regular panellist on ITV's chat show Loose Women. In 2013, she appeared in Celebrity MasterChef reaching the final three. She also appeared in the television show QI. Since 1 September 2014, Street-Porter has co-hosted BBC One cookery programme A Taste of Britain with chef Brian Turner.[15]

Street-Porter has appeared on numerous reality TV shows, including Call Me a Cabbie and So You Think You Can Teach; the latter saw her trying to work as a primary school teacher.[16] She conducted numerous interviews with business figures and others for Bloomberg TV.[16]

Newspaper work

Street-Porter became editor of the Independent on Sunday in 1999. Despite derision from her critics, she took the paper's circulation up to 270,460, an increase of 11.6 per cent.[6] In 2002, Street-Porter became editor-at-large as well as writing a regular column.


Following the death of Ian Tomlinson, Street-Porter dedicated her editor-at-large column in the Independent on Sunday to painting a picture of Tomlinson as a "troubled man with quite a few problems":

Knowing that he was an alcoholic is critical to understanding his sense of disorientation and his attitude towards the police, which might on first viewing of the video footage, seem a bit stroppy.[17]

Street-Porter has also attracted criticism over an article on depression in the Daily Mail in May 2010, in which she said, "Depression? It's just the new trendy illness!"[18] People have criticised the article for being condescending to those who suffer from depression and belittling the issue.[19][20][21] In October 2012, Ed Miliband mentioned this article in a speech on mental illness,[22] calling it "a shocking article".[23]

Other activities

The Clerkenwell house commissioned by Janet Street-Porter

A prominent rambler, Street-Porter was president of the Ramblers' Association for two years from 1994. She walked across Britain from Dungeness in Kent to Conwy in Wales for the television series Coast to Coast in 1998.[6] Street-Porter also walked from Edinburgh to London in a straight line in 1998, for a television series and her book, As the Crow Flies.[24] In 1994, for the documentary series The Longest Walk, Street-Porter visited long-distance walker Ffyona Campbell on the last section of her round-the-world walk.

In 1966, Street-Porter appeared as an extra in the nightclub scene in Blowup, dancing in a silver coat and striped trousers. In 2003, she wrote and presented a one-woman show at the Edinburgh Festival titled All the Rage.[2] She published the autobiographical Baggage in 2004, about her childhood in working class London. Its sequel is titled Fallout.[2] Life's Too F***ing Short is a volume which presents, as she puts it, her answer to "getting what you want out of life by the most direct route."

Personal life

While studying architecture, Street-Porter married another student, Tim Street-Porter.[6] He was the first of her four husbands.[25]

A friend of the model Elizabeth Hurley, Street-Porter danced with Hurley and six others at Indian-style celebrations the night before Hurley's marriage to Arun Nayar in 2007.[26]

Street-Porter has homes in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire,[27] Kent and London.[28] An active member of the Nidderdale community, she contributes her time and energy to a number of local causes. She is currently the president of the Burley Bridge Association, leading a campaign for a crossing over the River Wharfe linking North and West Yorkshire.[29]

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to journalism and broadcasting.[30]


  1. "Janet Street-Porter". Desert Island Discs. 23 November 2008. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. 1 2 3
  3. Loose Women, 22 March 2012
  4. 1 2 3 4 Janet Street-Porter (2004). Baggage – My Childhood. Headline. ISBN 0755312651.
  5. Generation '66, BBC Four, 31 July 2016
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "BFI Screenonline: Street-Porter, Janet (1946–) Biography". Screenonline.org.uk. 1996-03-19. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  7. "Janet Street-Porter: Sorry, I'm a shame free zone | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  8. Archived 16 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. "Magazine launches & events 1975–89". Magforum.com. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  10. 1 2 3 Stuart Jeffries. "Interview: Janet Street-Porter talks to Stuart Jeffries | Media | The Guardian". Media.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  11. Kershaw, Andy (2012). No Off Switch. Virgin. p. 213. ISBN 978-0415892131.
  12. "BBC One – Have I Got News for You, Series 51, Episode 5". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  13. "Janet Street-Porter: Sorry, I'm a shame free zone | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  14. Archived 21 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "BBC One – A Taste of Britain". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  16. 1 2 Archived 12 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. "Editor-at-Large: Tomlinson was no saint, but he deserved better – Janet Street-Porter – Columnists". The Independent. 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  18. Street-Porter, Janet (2010-08-05). "Depression? It's just the new trendy illness! | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  19. "The reality of depression by Alastair Campbell". Daily Mirror. UK. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  20. Brown, Andrew M (18 May 2010). "Janet Street Porter is talking rubbish. Depression is not 'the new trendy illness for women' – Telegraph Blogs". London: Blogs.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  21. Wintour, Patrick (29 October 2012). "Ed Miliband: time to stop caricatures of mentally ill". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  22. Daniel Bentley & Andrew Woodcock (29 October 2012). "Ed Miliband criticises mental illness 'belittlers' Jeremy Clarkson and Janet Street-Porter". The Independent. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  23. –1:20 (29 October 2012). "Mental illness 'biggest UK health challenge' – Miliband". BBC News: Politics. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  24. As the Crow Flies, Metro Books, London (1998) ISBN 978-1-900512-71-8
  25. "Janet Street-Porter: Sorry, I'm a shame free zone | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  26. "Caught & Social: 'Worst press conference ever' | Luke Blackall | Independent Notebook Blogs". Comment.independent.co.uk. 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  27. "The Dales: A lifelong romance – UK – Travel". The Independent. 2005-11-06. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  28. Lynn Barber. "Janet Street-Porter tells Lynn Barber that she has no intention of mellowing with age | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  29. "BBA: Burley Bridge News". Burleybridge.com. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  30. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61608. p. B9. 11 June 2016.

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Kim Fletcher
Editor of The Independent on Sunday
Succeeded by
Tristan Davies
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