Francoise Pascal: I was Lord Hanson's secret mistress

Dec 20, 2011
Jack Bremer

French-born actress admits to clandestine affair with tobacco-to-chemicals tycoon

A FRENCH actress well known in the 1970s for peeling off her top and for playing an au pair in the "jovially racist" ITV sitcom Mind Your Language, has admitted that she had a clandestine affair in her early 20s with one of Britain's most high-profile entrepreneurs – and a generous donor to Mrs Thatcher's Tory party – Lord (James) Hanson.

She is Francoise Pascal who is now 62 and, according to the Daily Mail, has decided to tell all in her forthcoming memoirs, As I Am.

Pascal met Hanson when she was 22, about a year after she had appeared as a naked centrefold in Penthouse magazine. They met at a dinner party she attended as David Niven Jnr's date.

Hanson was known for his devilish good looks (he had once been engaged to Audrey Hepburn) and his business skills. He would later build the Hanson company into a conglomerate whose interests ran from tobacco to chemicals and win a life peerage in 1983.

He apparently slipped Pascal his contact details and the pair eventually consummated their friendship at her London flat.

"I cooked him a warm chicken salad I found in a recipe book," the Mail quotes from Francoise's memoirs. "We ate, drank and that afternoon ended up in bed! We lay there, I smoking a cigarette and him just being chatty."

They didn't nibble too much, however. "James was always very cautious how he ate. I guess he needed to have some room for his dinner with Lady Hanson."

Lady Hanson was an American divorcee, Geraldine Kaelin, whom Hanson had married in 1959. They were still together when he died in 2004.

Francoise, who still lives in London, told the Mail: "I loved making love to him and why not? He was charismatic, poised and had savoir-faire. He was everything I loved in a man but not someone I could ever be with as he was married...

"I was the little devil in his life but I chose never to make waves because for him the consequences would have been disastrous. I was flattered that such a powerful man wanted to have an affair with me."

Born in Mauritius to French parents, Francoise was the go-to actress for early-70s directors and photographers who needed a sultry-looking English speaker with a strong French accent and few inhibitions.

Mind Your Language, set in a language school and featuring jokes that would never be allowed on television today, came off the air in 1979 after Michael Grade, then a senior executive ay LWT TV, deemed its stereotyping of foreigners too offensive.

As for the affair with James Hanson, a spokesman for his son, Robert, told the Mail: "Robert doesn't comment on these sorts of stories."

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