John Howard Davies
|John Howard Davies|
9 March 1939|
Paddington, London, England
|Died||22 August 2011
Blewbury, Oxfordshire, England
|Occupation||Actor, director, producer|
|Spouse(s)||Linda (2005–2011, his death)|
|Children||Son and daughter|
Davies was born in Paddington, London, the son of the scriptwriter Jack Davies. His credits as a child actor include the title role at the age of nine in David Lean's production Oliver Twist (1948), followed by The Rocking Horse Winner (1949), Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951) and a few episodes of the television series William Tell (1958).
After school at Haileybury, further education in Grenoble, France and national service in the Navy, he started working in the City, the financial centre of London, then as a carpet salesman. Ending up in Melbourne, Australia, he returned to acting and met his first wife Leonie when they both appeared in The Sound of Music. Back in Britain he tried selling oil to industry in Wembley.
He is best known for his adult career as a director and producer of several highly successful British sitcoms. Davies became a BBC production assistant during 1966, being promoted to producer in 1968. During this early period Davies worked on sketch shows such as The World of Beachcomber (1968), the earliest episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) and The Goodies (1970–72). He also directed the young Anthony Hopkins in the first episode of the Biography series in "Danton," written by Arden Winch. He also worked on All Gas and Gaiters (1969–70) and the seventh series of Steptoe and Son in 1972.
He briefly left the BBC to become managing director of EMI Television Productions in 1973, but soon returned to the corporation. From this time came Fawlty Towers (1975). The actress the writers wished to cast as Sybil was uninterested, and casting Prunella Scales was Davies's idea. Davies was producer for all four series of The Good Life (1975–78).
He was the BBC's Head of Comedy during 1977–82, then head of light entertainment, before joining Thames Television in 1985. Thames was then an ITV contractor, for which Davies was head of light entertainment from 1988. During the last role he was cited by the popular press as the man who sacked comedian Benny Hill when the company decided not to renew his contract after a connection lasting 20 years. He told Hill's biographer Mark Lewisohn, "It's very dangerous to have a show on ITV that doesn't appeal to women, because they hold the purse strings, in a sense."
- Obituary: John Howard Davies, Daily Telegraph, 23 August 2011
- ""JUNIOR ANGEL" AS FILM OLIVER TWIST.". The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949 - 1953) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 30 January 1949. p. 5 Supplement: Magazine Section. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "John Howard Davies". The Daily Telegraph. 24 August 2011. pp. 29 (Obituaries).
- Gavin Gaughan Obituary: John Howard Davies, The Independent, 25 August 2011
- John Oliver "Davies, John Howard (1939-)", BFI screenonline page
- Matthew Sweet Obituary: John Howard Davies, The Guardian, 24 August 2011
- "Fawlty Towers producer John Howard Davies dies at 72", BBC News, 23 August 2011
- "TV Comedy Producer John Howard Davies Dies At 72", NPR citing the Associated Press, 23 August 2011