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Leslie Ash

Leslie Ash
Born (1960-02-19) 19 February 1960
Clapham, London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Actress, writer
Years active 1964–present
Spouse(s) Lee Chapman (m. 1988)
Partner(s) Rowan Atkinson (1984)
Children 2

Leslie Ash (born 19 February 1960 in Clapham, London) is an English actress. She is best known for her role as Deborah Burton in the BBC sitcom Men Behaving Badly, Vanessa Lytton in the BBC medical drama Holby City from 2009 to 2010 and Karen Buckley in the ITV drama Where the Heart Is from 2000 to 2003. Her book My Life Behaving Badly: The Autobiography was published in 2007.


  • Early career 1
  • Later work 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Health problems 4
    • Lip implants 4.1
  • News of the World legal action 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early career

Ash first appeared on British television in 1964 at the age of four asking "Mummy, why are your hands so soft?" in an advertisement for the washing-up product Fairy Liquid.[1] She was educated at the independent Italia Conti Academy stage school, and then started a career as a fashion model appearing on the cover of a number of teenager magazines, including Pink, and Jackie, for which she was photographed by David Bailey.

Having appeared with her sister Debbie in the 1978 British slapstick comedy Curse of the Pink Panther. In 1983, she also appeared opposite Nicky Henson as Nancy in the ITV situation comedy The Happy Apple playing a secretary whose opinions successfully reflected public opinion. She then played a regular role in crime series C.A.T.S. Eyes.

In 1987, Ash appeared in the first episode of the third series of the ITV Home to Roost.. The episode was entitled Human Interest, and Ash played the role of the flamboyant cleaner, Susie Perkins.

Ash's best known role was playing Neil Morrissey's romantic interest Deborah (Debs) in the situation comedy Men Behaving Badly. She continued in the role for six series. She subsequently acted in BBC police drama Merseybeat and the ITV drama Where the Heart Is.

In 1996, during her time on Men Behaving Badly, Leslie released a single "Tell Him" with co-star Caroline Quentin, under the name of "Quentin & Ash". It reached number 25 in the UK singles chart.[3]

Later work

Ash appeared in BBC Radio 4's comic radio series, Vent (2007), alongside Neil Pearson, Fiona Allen and Josie Lawrence.[4]

In May 2008, Ash worked with Transparent Television to make a documentary about the unregulated cosmetic beauty industry whilst exploring her own experiences. The programme, Leslie Ash: Face to Face was broadcast on ITV on 23 September 2008.

In 2009 it was announced that Ash would join the cast of BBC medical drama, Holby City from October 2009, playing the role of executive Vanessa Lytton.[5] In 2009, Ash appeared on daytime TV panel programme Loose Women to discuss her new role in Holby City and her previous health problems. Leslie reappeared on Loose Women on 17 February 2012 where she discussed her new on stage tour of All the Single Ladies where she stars alongside Brooke Kinsella and Tara Flynn.

In 2014, Leslie appeared and was a contestant on the BBC programme, Celebrity Masterchef.

Personal life

Ash is married to former footballer Lee Chapman, and they have two sons. She was formerly in a relationship with actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, which ended in 1984.[6][7]

Her sister is former 'Hot Gossip' dancer Debbie Ash, who has a child with former stunt motorcyclist Eddie Kidd. They appeared together as sisters in Rosie Dixon – Night Nurse.[7][8]

Since 1993, Ash and Chapman have opened a number of successful cocktail bars around London.

Health problems

Ash contracted toxoplasmosis two months into her pregnancy in France, where toxoplasmosis is more common than the United Kingdom.[9] She told the BBC that she wished to raise awareness of this as an issue in Britain.[10]

Ash was hospitalised at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in April 2004 after suffering two cracked ribs, saying she fell off her bed on to a table during sex with her husband.[11] She was discharged after only a few days, but was readmitted after losing all feeling in her legs. In June 2004 while she was still in hospital, it was announced that a staphylococcus aureus infection might have rendered her permanently unable to walk.[12]

In late August, Ash was seen taking some steps with the assistance of crutches. Ash appeared on the British Soap Awards in May 2006, walking unaided, but still clearly impaired two years after her illness. In January 2007 Ash confirmed she was suing the hospital. Papers lodged at the High Court asserted that Ash would never return to active TV roles. The hospital admitted breach of duty over part of her treatment but denied responsibility for the extent of her injuries[13] and in January 2008 paid out a record £5m compensation payout in an out-of-court settlement. Steve Walker, chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority, said the payout set a new record for compensation following a hospital-acquired infection.[11] The previous highest amount was £500,000. The high amount was justified by the NHS compensation body as being "because of the amount Leslie was earning at the time she fell ill and takes into account how much she might have earned in the future".[14] Ash now calls for cleaner hospitals as a result of her experiences and regularly addresses audiences of healthcare officials on the subject.

She played the character of Vanessa Lytton in the BBC series Holby City from 13 October 2009 to 6 April 2010.

Lip implants

In her thirties, Ash had a collagen injection to 'plump up' her lips. When she was forty she decided to repeat the procedure with the same plastic surgeon, the mother of a Venezuelan friend. In the second procedure, liquid silicone was injected resulting in extreme swelling of her lips, a condition dubbed a "trout pout" in the press. Subsequent medical analysis showed that the silicone had set and the condition is permanent.[15][16] During this time Ash starred in a series of advertisements for the DIY chain Homebase (again, with Neil Morrissey) and starred in Merseybeat, which evoked further ridicule from the media about her appearance.[17]

Ash has since spoken out about the press ridicule she has received as a result of her botched implants, commenting: "If I'd lost a leg in a car crash, people wouldn't have felt able to take the mickey out of me so mercilessly....People don't laugh at Heather Mills because she lost a leg."[18]

News of the World legal action

Ash and Chapman sued the News of the World for breach of privacy over suspicions that their voicemails, and those of their two sons, were illegally accessed by private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire.[19] They wrote to the police over their suspicions, and the police informed them that there were four pieces of paper referring to Ash in Mulcaire's notebooks, and five items relating to Chapman. There were further items relating to their children.[19]

In August 2011, Ash and Chapman settled a claim against the paper and Mulcaire for an undisclosed sum and received an apology. They now plan to take action against other newspapers.[20]


  1. ^ "Entertainment | Leslie Ash joins Holby City cast". BBC News. 2009-05-18. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  2. ^ "Rosie Dixon – Night Nurse at Nostalgia Central". 
  3. ^ Simpson, Paul (2003). The Rough Guide to Cult Pop. London:  
  4. ^ "Radio 4 Extra Programmes - Vent, Series 2, Episode 2". BBC. 2007-10-02. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  5. ^ Blackburn, Jen (2009-05-18). "Leslie Ash makes comeback... in hospital | The Sun |Showbiz|TV". The Sun. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  6. ^ Adams, Guy (24 March 2007). "Rowan Atkinson: Comic engima - Profiles, People - The Independent". London: The Independent. Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Atkinson: a 'tortured genius' | Mail Online". Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  8. ^ Palmer, Alun (2011-04-30). "Eddie Kidd interview: Disabled stuntman's heroic London Marathon walk goes on". Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  9. ^ David Adam (2003-09-25). "Can a parasite carried by cats change your personality? | Science". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  10. ^ "HEALTH | Pregnancy superfoods revealed". BBC News. 2001-01-10. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  11. ^ a b "Health | £5m hospital bug payout for Ash". BBC News. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  12. ^ Templeton, Sarah-Kate (2005-03-06). "TV star Ash vows war on superbug". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 2006-08-26. 
  13. ^ Vanessa Allen (2007-01-30). "Hospital Superbug Has Killed My Career". Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  14. ^ "Leslie Ash compensation sets record". ITN News. 
  15. ^ "Entertainment | Ash speaks out over lip surgery". BBC News. 2003-12-01. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  16. ^ Rebecca Hardy (2009-10-07). "Leslie Ash reveals all about her trout pout, drinking herself into oblivion and the sex session that led her to catch MRSA | Mail Online". Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  17. ^ "A slip of her lips could sink a ship on the Mersey - News -". 2003-01-28. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  18. ^ "Leslie Ash makes trout pout faux pas (From The Argus)". 2003-12-01. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  19. ^ a b Dan Sabbagh and James Robinson (2011-01-27). "Leslie Ash's phone-hacking fears were brushed aside by police | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  20. ^ "BBC News - Phone hacking: Reports of James Desborough arrest". 2011-08-18. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 

External links

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