John Howard Davies  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

John Howard Davies (9 March 1939 – 22 August 2011) was a British television director and producer and former child actor.

Davies was born in Paddington, London, the son of the scriptwriter Jack Davies. His credits as a child actor include the title role in David Lean's Oliver Twist (1948), 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 and National Service in the Royal Navy, he started working in the City in a finance company. After that, he trained as a carpet salesman but quit after six months to travel the world. Ending up in 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 did though work on All Gas and Gaiters (1969–70) and the 1972 series of Steptoe and Son.

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' idea. John Cleese recalled: "We realised she was doing it differently but better than the way we had envisaged it when we were writing it." Davies was producer for all four series of The Good Life (1975–78).

He was the BBC's Head of Comedy during 1977-82, and in 1985 joined Thames Television, then an ITV contractor, where he was Head of Light Entertainment. 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. During this period he worked on No Job for a Lady (1990–92) and Mr. Bean (1990), returning to the BBC later in the 1990s.

He died from cancer on Monday 22 August at his home in Blewbury, Oxfordshire, with his third wife Linda, whom he married in 2005, son William and daughter Georgina at his bedside.

John Howard Davies should not be confused with John Davies (b. 1934, Birmingham) who worked in television drama during the same period.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "John Howard Davies" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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