Peter Jones (actor)
12 June 1920|
Wem, Shropshire, England, UK
|Died||10 April 2000
Westminster, London, England, UK
Peter Geoffrey Francis Jones (12 June 1920 – 10 April 2000) was an English actor, screenwriter and broadcaster.
Early life and career
Peter Jones was born in Wem, Shropshire and he was educated at Wem Grammar School and Ellesmere College. He made his first appearance as an actor in Wolverhampton at the age of 16 and then appeared in repertory theatre in East Anglia. In 1942 he acted on the West End stage in The Doctor's Dilemma and in 1942 he made an uncredited film appearance in Fanny by Gaslight. An early film credit was as a Xenobian trade delegate in Chance of a Lifetime (1950).
Between 1952 and 1955 Jones starred alongside Peter Ustinov in the BBC radio comedy In All Directions. The show featured Jones and Ustinov as themselves in a car in London perpetually searching for Copthorne Avenue. The comedy derived from the characters they met along the way, often also played by themselves. The show was unusual for the time in that it was largely improvised—with the tape subsequently edited for broadcast by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, who also sometimes took part. Two of the more popular characters were Morris and Dudley Grosvenor, two rather stupid East End spivs whose sketches always ended with the phrase "Run for it Dudley" (or Morry as appropriate). One recording, from October 1952, survives in the BBC Sound Archive. The Grosvenor character was revived for a later radio series We're in Business. Another notable radio role was as Mervyn Bunter in Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey stories. He was for 29 years a regular contestant on the panel game Just A Minute, becoming much-loved for his dry, acid wit.
He was the voice of The Book in the original radio series of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The creators had wanted someone with a "Peter Jonesy sort of voice" and after several rejections asked Jones himself. He reprised the role for the LP and the TV series.
Jones had a role in Patrick Barlow's The Patrick and Maureen Maybe Music Experience.
He wrote and narrated J Kingston Platt's Showbiz Handbook in the early 1990s for BBC Radio 4. These comic monologues are the fictional memoirs of an actor and producer working in British theatre and film from the 1940s to the 1980s; the stories being partially based on his own career. (The programmes are regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra, and a selection of six episodes is available as an audiobook.)
Jones narrated Douglas Adams's radio series Last Chance to See, in a style similar to his earlier Adams collaboration. He also occasionally narrated television documentaries, such as the Equinox episode "Unravelling the Universe", first broadcast in December 1991.
On television, he was best known for his lead role as Mr Fenner in the Classic Comedy series The Rag Trade (BBC TV 1961-63, LWT 1977-78), but he also had acting roles in the British comedy series The Goodies, the courtroom drama Rumpole of the Bailey, Holby City, Whoops Apocalypse, The Bill, Midsomer Murders, Minder and two episodes of The Avengers.
He also starred in the filmed comedy series From a Bird's Eye View (1970), a vehicle for Millicent Martin, in an attempt to break into the American market. He also appeared as Maurice Morris in Season 5 Episode 3 of the British comedy series Man About The House (1975)
From 1969 to 1971, Jones also starred (opposite Sheila Hancock) in a sitcom (for ITV, by Yorkshire Television) called Mr Digby, Darling, lasting 3 series (and 19 episodes).
Jones featured in a number of films, including Private's Progress (1956), School for Scoundrels (1960) (reprising his Dudley Grosvenor character as a used-car salesman with Dennis Price), Just like a Woman (1967) alongside Wendy Craig, The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) and Chariots of Fire (1981).
Personal life and death
Jones died of natural causes, aged 79, in 2000 at Westminster, London. His wife, Jeri Sauvinet, was an American theatre actor who pre-deceased him in 1999. She played Miss Rufford in Lady Windermere's Fan, the comedy play by Oscar Wilde. They had three children together; a daughter, Selena Doggett-Jones, and two sons Charles Daniel Jones, and Bill Dare Jones.
- Fanny by Gaslight (1944) - Young Client At 'The Shades' (uncredited)
- Dead of Night (1945) - Fred - Barman (segment "Golfing Story") (uncredited)
- I See a Dark Stranger (1946) - Soldier in Pub (uncredited)
- Vice Versa (1948) - Chawner
- Forbidden (1949) - Pete
- Private Angelo (1949) - (uncredited)
- Chance of a Lifetime (1950) - Xenobian
- Last Holiday - Travel Agent (uncredited)
- Cairo Road (1950) - Ship's Lieutenant
- The Franchise Affair (1951) - Bernard Chadwick
- The Browning Version (1951) - Carstairs
- Home to Danger (1951) - Lips Leonard
- High Treason (1951) - Announcer at Music Club (uncredited)
- The Magic Box (1951) - Industry Man
- Angels One Five (1952) - Sentry
- Time Gentlemen, Please! (1952) - Lionel Batts
- 24 Hours of a Woman's Life (1952) - Bill
- Miss Robin Hood (1952) - Cyril Lidstone
- The Long Memory (1952) - Fisher
- The Yellow Balloon (1953) - Spiv
- Innocents in Paris (1953) - Langton
- The Good Beginning (1953) - Furrier
- A Day to Remember (1953) - Percy Goodall
- Albert R.N. (1953) - Schoolie
- For Better, for Worse (1954) - Car Salesman
- The Red Dress (1954) - Harry (segment "Panic' story)
- John and Julie (1955) - Jeremy
- Private's Progress (1956) - Arthur Egan
- Charley Moon (1956) - Stewart
- Blue Murder at St Trinian's (1957) - Prestwick
- Danger Within (1959) - Capt. Alfred Piker
- Operation Bullshine (1959) - Gunner Perkins
- School for Scoundrels (1960) - Dudley
- Never Let Go (1960) - Alec Berger
- The Bulldog Breed (1960) - Diving Instructor
- Nearly a Nasty Accident (1961) - Flight Lt. Winters
- Romanoff and Juliet (1961) - Otto
- A Stitch in Time (1963) - Capt. Russell, St. John's Ambulance Brigade
- Father Came Too! (1964) - Charles II
- The Sandwich Man (1966) - Manfred the Magnificent - Escapologist
- Press for Time (1966) - Robin Willobey (photographer)
- Just like a Woman (1967) - Saul Alexander
- Smashing Time (1967) - Dominic
- Carry On Doctor (1967) - Chaplain
- Hot Millions (1968) - Prison Governor (uncredited)
- The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) - Psychiatrist
- Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975) - Maxy Naus
- Seven Nights in Japan (1976) - Capt. Balcon
- Carry On England (1976) - Brigadier
- Chariots of Fire (1981)
- Milk (1999) - Harry
- Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 407. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
- Dennis Barker (2000-04-11). "Peter Jones". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- GRO Register of Births: JUN 1920 6a(?) 1433(?) WEM - Peter G. F. Jones, mmn = Francis
- "ENTERTAINMENT | Comedy veteran Peter Jones dies". BBC News. 10 April 2000. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Adams, Douglas; Perkins, Geoffrey (9 December 1987). The original Hitchhiker radio scripts. Harmony Books. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-517-55950-5. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- "J. Kingston Platt: The Unexpurgated Memoirs of a Showbiz Phenomenon". Audible. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
- GRO Register of Deaths: APR 2000 A43C 263 WESTMINSTER - Peter Geoffrey F Jones, DoB = 12 Jun 1920, aged 79
- "Peter Jones profile". BFI. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- "Inside the Playbill: Lady Windermere's Fan - November 25, 1946 at Cort Theatre". Playbill. p. 2. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- Release date for The Magic Box, in IMDb.