Janet Davies (actress)

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Janet Davies
Janet Davies as Mrs Pike in the Dad's Army episode 'Never Too Old'.jpg
Janet Davies (left) as Mrs Pike in the Dad's Army episode 'Never Too Old'
Born (1927-09-14)14 September 1927
Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
Died 22 September 1986(1986-09-22) (aged 59)
Bromley, Greater London
Cause of death
Breast cancer
Years active 1960-1986
Spouse(s) Ian Gardiner

Janet Kathleen Davies (14 September 1927 – 22 September 1986) was an English actress best known for her recurring role as Mrs. Pike in the long-running sitcom Dad's Army.

Although mainly remembered for her role as Mrs Pike in Dad's Army, appearing in 30 episodes of the show, she also featured in many other television and film roles including Dixon of Dock Green, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, All Creatures Great and Small, Last of the Summer Wine, Z-Cars, The Citadel, Pride and Prejudice, Open All Hours, Are You Being Served?, and in the 1972 film Under Milk Wood. Davies was upset that she did not appear in the 1971 film version of Dad’s Army (in which her character was played by Liz Fraser).

When she was not acting, Davies exploited her typing and shorthand training by working with various theatrical agencies. She was married to the actor Ian Gardiner, who was best known for having played Reginald Molehusband in a Central Office of Information public information film in the 1960s.[1]

She died on 22 September 1986, aged 59, of breast cancer which had metastasised to her lungs.[2]

Early life[edit]

Davies was born in Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire. Her father, a solicitor, died in his early thirties, and as a result she was sent to boarding school. She started training as a solicitor but left and qualified as a shorthand typist instead. She worked as a BBC secretary for two years, assigned to programmes including Dick Barton before eventually moving into repertory in 1948, appearing at Leatherhead, Watford, Shrewsbury, Bedford and Northampton.

Dad's Army[edit]

Davies was a client of the theatrical agent, Ann Callender, and also worked as a secretary for Callender whenever she was short of work. Callender was the wife of TV producer David Croft , the director, co-writer and producer of Dad's Army. Croft said that Davies "hastened to suggest herself for the part. After all, being in the office where the script first saw the light of day, she knew the requirements well." Davies went to see Croft in order to read for the part. Croft recalled that "She seemed to be just the right age and type to play the role."[3]

Davies played the doting mother of Private Frank Pike (Ian Lavender), Mrs Pike, in 30 episodes of the sitcom, with her story lines mainly involving her relationship with Sergeant Wilson (John Le Mesurier) and her 'mollycoddling' of her son, much to the annoyance of Captain George Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe). Her first appearance is in the pilot episode, 'The Man and The Hour', and her last is in the finale episode, 'Never Too Old'.

For the 1971 film version of Dad's Army, Liz Frazer was cast as Mrs Pike. This decision was made by the director, Norman Cohen, who wanted a less 'homely' actress for the role.[4] The recasting was very controversial and one of the changes imposed by backers Columbia Pictures that added to the unhappiness of the cast. Co-writer of the television series, Jimmy Perry, has said "It was a mistake...not to cast Janet in the role because the viewing public has come to recognize her as Mrs. Pike. But that was a decision made by Columbia."[5]

Davies was also not cast as Mrs Pike in the radio adaptations of many of the episodes, although other minor characters were also recast, such as the role of Mrs Fox (Pamela Cundell) which was played by Molly Sugden in the radio series. Pearl Hackney was cast in the role of Mrs Pike.

Illness and death[edit]

Davies died on 28 September 1986, aged 59, of breast cancer which had metastasized to her lungs. Her Dad's Army co-star, Bill Pertwee, said that she "spent her last days in a hospice and died peacefully" adding that she was a "lovely woman".[2]

Davies' best friend, Kathy Staff, her co-star in Last of the Summer Wine, believed that Davies could have been saved, "if doctors had diagnosed the breast cancer that spread to her lungs". In an interview, Staff said "I can't help feeling that if she had been given treatment, the cancer could have been contained". Staff also said: "She was a very down to earth person. She had a great sense of fun and a heart of gold."[2]

Television[edit]

Janet Davies' television appearances
Programme

[6]

Date Channel Role Notes
Arthur's Treasured Volumes 6 June 1960 ATV Miss Tiddy Episode 6: The Curse of the Bellfoots
Police Surgeon 24 September 1960 ABC Weekend Television Welsh Woman Episode 3: Lag on the Run
The Citadel 23 November 1960 – 30 November 1960 Associated-Rediffusion Television Neighbour TV mini-series- Series 1: Episodes 1 and 2
Emergency-Ward 10 24 February 1961 Anne French Series 1, Episode 420
The Desperate People 24 March 1963 Joyce Naylor Series 1: Episode 5
The Saint 24 October 1963 ITV Pearl Series 2: Episode 6: Marcia
Gideon's Way 16 January 1965 ITV Nurse Series 1: Episode 16: Fall High, Fall Hard. (Uncredited)
Dr Finlay's Casebook 26 February 1967 BBC One Nurse Series 5: Episode 9
The Gamblers 23 November 1967 Anne Series 1: Episode 11: Tycoon of the Year
Champion House 30 May 1968 Miss. Jennings Series 2: Episode 8  : Pilot Error
Gazette 30 August 1968 Mrs. Goodison Series 1: Episode 5: It's All Happening!
Dixon of Dock Green 14 March 1964 – 15 January 1972 BBC Television Mrs Baker/Perryman/Thomas/White/Waters and May Nelson Six episodes
Fish 8 January 1973 - 29 January 1973 Mrs Price TV mini-series, Four episodes
The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes 12 February 1973 Perkins Series 2: Episode 3: Cell 13
Are You Being Served? 18 April 1973 BBC Television The Oversize Dress Series 1: Episode 5: Diamonds Are a Man's Best Friend
Hey Brian! 19 June 1973 Series 1: Episode 6
Helen: A Woman of Today 28 September 1973 Solicitors Secretary Series 1: Episode 2
Casanova '73 15 October 1973 Man opposite's Wife Series 1: Episode 5
Vienna 1900 12 January 1974 BBC Television Frau Garian TV mini-series,Series 1: Episode 6: The Spring Sonata
Marked Personal 22 January 1974 - 23 January 1974 Thames Television Gwyneth Morgan Two episodes: Series 1: Episodes 21 and 22
Childhood 21 April 1974 Gertie 'Possessions'
Play for Today 5 February 1973 - 23 January 1975 BBC Television Nurse/Rose Two episodes: Song at Twilight and Breath
Last of the Summer Wine 12 March 1975 - 26 March 1975 BBC Television Miss Jones Two episodes: Series 2: Episodes 2 and 4
Sadie, It's Cold Outside 5 May 1975 Receptionist Series 1: Episode 3
Lucky Feller 24 September 1976 First Woman Series 1: Episode 4: Kath's Family
Dad's Army 31 July 1968 - 06 November 1977 BBC Television Mrs Pike Recurring Character- 30 episodes.
All Creatures Great and Small 12 February 1978 - 26 February 1978 BBC Television Mrs Dalby Three episodes, Series 1: Episodes 6, 7 and 8.
Angels 4 October 1976 - 19 June 1978 Liz Thomas/Saleswoman Two episodes,Series 3:Episode 5 and Season 4:Episode 1
Z-Cars 19 June 1962 - 09 August 1978 BBC Television Mrs Pagett/Garett,Mary Russel,Valerie Jolliffe and Molly Six episodes.
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin 27 December 1978 BBC Television Ethel Merman Series 3: Episode 4: Communal Social Evenings
Rosie 28 June 1979 Violet Series: Episode 4: Happy Birthday, Mr Chizzlehurst.
Testment of Youth 11 November 1979 Sarah TV mini-series Season 1: Episode 2: Buxton 1914
Pride and Prejudice 10 February 1980 BBC Television Mrs Hill TV mini-series,Season 1, Episode 5
Nice Work 5 November 1980 Neighbour Series 1: Episode 4: Kill the Fatted Hen
Open All Hours 18 April 1982 BBC Television Mrs Blake Series 3: Episode 5: The Man from Down Under
Something in Disguise 7 July 1982 - 04 August 1982 Mrs Green Three episodes, Series 1  : Episodes 2,6 and 4
The Professionals 21 November 1982 London Weekend Television Roz Hatch Series 5: Episode 3: You'll Be Alright
The Citadel 20 January 1983 - 27 January 1983 BBC Television Mrs Watkins TV mini-series, Part 1 and 2
Death of an Expert Witness 22 April 1983 Anglia Television Mrs Winifred Swaffield TV mini-series, Season 1: Episode 3
Terry and June 28 September 1985 Customer (as Jan Davies) Series 8: Episode 4: New Doors for Old
Don't Wait Up 8 November 19783 - 27 January 1986 BBC Television Florrie Two Episodes, Series 1:Episode 3, and Season 3: Episode 7
That's My Boy 15 February 1985 - 21 March 1986 Mrs Lacey Two episodes, Series 4, Episode 5, and Series 5, Episode 5.
Bread 1 May 1986 BBC Television D.H.S.S Claimant Season 1: Episode

Filmography[edit]

Janet Davies' Film Appearances
Film

[6]

Year Role Notes
The Ghost Goes Gear 1966 Cockney Wife
Interlude 1968 Nanny
Under Milk Wood 1972
In this House of Brede 1975 Mrs Scanlon TV movie
The Hiding Place 1975 Mrs Beukers Uncredited
Love Story: Mr Right 1983 Waitress TV movie
Terry on the Fence 1986 Usher

References[edit]

  1. ^ Article on BBC News Magazine. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
  2. ^ a b c h t tp://home.btconnect.com/howejam/dadsarmy/news_archive/1986_armycuttothefew.htm
  3. ^ David Croft interviewed for Richard Webber Dad's Army The Home Front The Complete Scripts Series 5-9 (Orion, 2002) ISBN 0-7528-4743-0
  4. ^ Complete A-Z of Dad's Army Webber, R(Ed) 2000, London, Orion ISBN 0-7528-1838-4
  5. ^ Jimmy Perry interviewed in Richard Webber Dad's Army: A Celebration, (Virgin Publishing 1997), p.168, ISBN 0-7535-0307-7
  6. ^ a b http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0203773/

External links[edit]