Jean Heard – working in the cruise industry

When Jean started working in entertainment on the piers of Great Britain, there was a stigma about working on cruise ships. Talent judges have been known to describe contestants in a derogatory way using the term. She started in the Cilla Black and Jimmy Tarbuck shows, worked on Tv shows like The Paul Daniels Show, and in the BBC’s Saturday night circus extravaganza “When I see an Elephant Fly” which took her to Sharjah in the Persian Gulf. She ended up in the West End. Her longest run was in the comedy farce, No Sex Please, We’re British at The Strand. Now, the piers struggle to get anywhere near the level of talent found on cruise ships which feature full blown concerts from mega A-list stars like Gary Barlow as seen on our Iona Ship Tour Film.

Jean is a character actress, so loves to get inside and behind a character like Nell Gwynne or Lillie Langtry, who she plays in her one woman show, Royal Mistresses. She tours the country to lunches and guilds, has also taken her one woman show, to play on Broadway.

Jean is a TV presenter as well as an actress, and has now presented over 500 cruise films.

She is often asked if she is Doris, and where Doris comes from. When trapped at home while nursing her husband, she started a web TV series set in her kitchen. She couldn’t go out! Buster Blackledge directed the 63 part web series, Shades Of Bad, which kept winning awards and charting in the web series chart. Twice she, as Doris, won Best Actress topping the number one actress in a soap as published by We Love Soaps in New York.  Quite simply, when she started cruising again, it was suggested she shoot episode inserts from abroad. In shooting while cruising, the idea of Doris Visits evolved. Doris Visits has now taken over with millions of views on YouTube and a demand for more content. It was never planned. The style of all the Port Guides and Ship Tours is quite unfashionably never to comment, deride, or knock. That might get more views, but Doris Visits prefers to show what is there and let the viewer decide what they think.

Jean has also taught and guided others in drama and that does not just include her own children. Her son Luke Aikman, who starred as the young Colin Firth in Fever Pitch, was the school long acting partner of Rizwan Ahmed. Every year they won the coveted duologue trophy at Merchant Taylors, every year except one when they got silver. As voting BAFTA members, Jean and Stuart attended a screening of a film Rizwan starred in, in which his PR team were swanning him around the media for interviews. He saw Jean and left them to say hello. They had not seen each other since he left school. Now a Hollywood superstar, Riz remembered fondly the rehearsals in Jean’s living room, and her encouraging him to act. That is all history. Luke is now a successful businessman. Her daughter Laura Aikman is probably best known for her guest appearance in Gavin Stacey and playing Dyan Cannon in Archie, the 4 parter about Cary Grant.


The web series mentioned above still makes people laugh out loud and when you watch it is easy to see how it gained a cult following and awards. Jean’s performance of the twisted writing makes it funny when you should all be questioning why we accept these crimes.

Shades of Bad is here.