Janet Davies (actress)
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Janet Davies (left) as Mrs Pike in the Dad's Army episode 'Never Too Old'
14 September 1927|
Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
|Died||22 September 1986
Bromley, Greater London
Cause of death
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.
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.
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."
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. 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."
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
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".
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."
|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|
|The Ghost Goes Gear||1966||Cockney Wife|
|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|
- Article on BBC News Magazine. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
- h t tp://home.btconnect.com/howejam/dadsarmy/news_archive/1986_armycuttothefew.htm
- 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
- Complete A-Z of Dad's Army Webber, R(Ed) 2000, London, Orion ISBN 0-7528-1838-4
- Jimmy Perry interviewed in Richard Webber Dad's Army: A Celebration, (Virgin Publishing 1997), p.168, ISBN 0-7535-0307-7