William Franklyn

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William Franklyn
William Franklyn.jpg
William Leo Beare

(1925-09-22)22 September 1925
Kensington, London, England
Died31 October 2006(2006-10-31) (aged 81)
London, England (prostate cancer)
Height6' (1.83 m)
Spouse(s)Margo Johns (1952–1962) (1 Child)
Susannah Carroll (1969–2006) (2 Children) (his death)

William Leo Franklyn (22 September 1925 – 31 October 2006) was a British actor, perhaps best known for voicing the "Schhh... You Know Who" adverts for Schweppes from 1965 to 1973. He also performed on stage, film, television and radio, taking over from Peter Jones as "The Book" (the narrator) in the third, fourth and fifth radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is also known for his portrayal of Sexton Blake for BBC Radio 4 in 1967.

Early life[edit]

Franklyn was born in Kensington into an acting family: his maternal grandfather, Arthur Rigby, Sr and uncle, Arthur Rigby, Jr, mother, Mary Rigby, and father, Leo Franklyn, were all actors. He was taken to Australia as a baby, where his father toured with musical comedies. The young Franklyn attended Wesley and Haileybury Colleges, both in Melbourne, and developed an abiding love of cricket. He later trialled as a fast bowler for Essex, and opened the bowling for the Stage Cricket Club. He also became a leg spinner, and ran his own team, the Sargentmen, raising money for the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children.

He returned to London, aged 11. He was evacuated to Luscombe Castle in Devon in the Second World War. His stage career began at the age of 18, when he appeared in My Sister Eileen at the Savoy Theatre in 1943. He was called up to join the Parachute Regiment, and was sent to Palestine.


He appeared in Arsenic and Old Lace at Southsea Pier[1] in 1946, soon after he was demobilised, and settled on an acting career. He continued to tour with the play in repertory for six years. In a slow period, he traded as an antiques dealer, taking junk away on a barrow from rich areas of London and selling it as antiques.

He went on to perform on the stage, on television and radio, and in several films. He appeared in several films in the 1950s, including Quatermass 2 in 1957, and took a starring role in the 1961 film Pit of Darkness which was the B-feature shown with Adam Faith's What A Whopper. He featured in the 1965 Morecambe and Wise film The Intelligence Men.

He appeared in London's West End in comedies such as There's a Girl in My Soup and Tunnel of Love. After perfunctory Italian lessons, he directed a version of There's a Girl in My Soup in Italy, with Italian actors, in Italian. On television, he was a panellist on game shows such as What's My Line? and Call My Bluff. He played Jacques Fleury in The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1955–56) and Peter Dallas in the spy drama series Top Secret (1961–62), and also appeared in several episodes of The Avengers.

Franklyn also was in comedy sketch show What's on Next and was the host of espionage quiz game The Masterspy. He was featured on This Is Your Life (1978), appeared in the 1984 comedy television series The Steam Video Company, and in G.B.H. (1991) and Diana: Her True Story (1993).

He was also known for commercial voice-over work; he appeared on screen in 10 commercials and voiced another 40 from 1965 to 1973. The "Schhh... You Know Who" Schweppes adverts Franklyn voiced were created by Ogilvy and Mather.

He voiced Danger Mouse in the unbroadcast pilot for the British television series (although David Jason replaced him in all broadcast episodes).

On radio, he was the reader of the quotes on BBC Radio 4's Quote Unquote for 11 years, until shortly before his death, and also read for The News Quiz. In 2004 and 2005 he took over the role of "The Book" (the narrator) from his friend Peter Jones for the third, fourth and fifth radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


Year Title Role Notes
1952 Secret People Surgeon Uncredited
1953 Operation Diplomat Dr. Gillespie Uncredited
1954 The Runaway Bus Crook in Opening Sequence Voice, Uncredited
1954 Time Is My Enemy Sgt. Peter Thompson
1954 The Crowded Day Studio Official
1955 Out of the Clouds Control Tower Radio Operator Uncredited
1955 The Love Match Arthur Ford
1955 Above Us the Waves No. 1, X2
1957 Quatermass 2 Brand
1957 That Woman Opposite Ned Atwood
1957 The Flesh Is Weak Lloyd Buxton
1958 The Snorkel Wilson
1959 Danger Within Capt. Tony Long
1960 Upgreen – And at 'Em
1960 The Big Day Mr. T. Selkirk
1961 Fury at Smugglers' Bay The Captain
1961 Pit of Darkness Richard Logan
1965 The Intelligence Men Colonel Grant
1966 Cul-de-sac Cecil
1972 Ooh... You Are Awful Arnold Van Cleef
1973 The Satanic Rites of Dracula Torrence
1983 Nutcracker Sir Arthur Cartwright
1993 Splitting Heirs Andrews
1996 Robert Rylands' Last Journey Robert Rylands

Personal life[edit]

Franklyn was married twice: first to Margo Johns in 1952; they had a daughter, actress Sabina Franklyn, but were divorced in 1962. He remarried in 1969; he and his second wife, Susanna, had two daughters, Francesca Franklyn, a film producer, and Melissa Franklyn, an actress.

Franklyn died of prostate cancer on Tuesday, 31 October 2006. His funeral was held on Monday, 6 November 2006 at Mortlake Crematorium, Richmond-Upon-Thames, England.


  1. ^ newspaper obituaries

External links[edit]