Born in 1963, with a northern father and southern mother, her family moved around quite a lot when she was young, eventually settling in the West Country. At 16 she left school and worked in Devon as an administrative assistant, doing photography and writing stories in her spare time. In 1985 she passed the entrance exam for Sussex University and studied American Literature - figuring that there was less of it than English literature (for the record, she was wrong!).

At Sussex she furthered her interests in film, photography and Chinese painting/calligraphy, and co-ran the Film Society for a year. After graduating, she won a Scholarship to study in the USA for a Master’s degree, and also taught part-time at Clark University in Massachusetts. She returned to the UK in 1991, first lecturing in Suffolk, before moving to Bournemouth in 1995 so she could combine her interests in film and television theory-practice.

Jan completed her doctorate, Between the Candle and the Star, in 2001 – it’s about mythology, television narrative, science fiction and the cult American tv series Babylon 5.