Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Comedy director John Davies dies

Comedy director John Howard Davies has died at the age of 72

John Howard Davies - the actor turned comedy director best known for playing Oliver Twist in the 1948 David Lean film - has died at the age of 72 following a battle with cancer, his son said.

Davies found fame as a child actor, taking the role of Oliver in the adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel when he was eight years old.

Later, he enjoyed a successful career behind the camera, directing comedy classics such as The Good Life, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python and the Mr Bean TV series.

Davies died on Monday morning at his home in Blewbury, Oxfordshire, with his wife and family by his side.

His son, William Davies, said: "My father had an absolutely extraordinary career, was unfailingly supportive as a parent and will be greatly missed. He died surrounded by his family."

Davies was responsible for launching classics such as Yes Minister, Not The Nine O'Clock News, To The Manor Born, Bread, Hi-De-Hi, Only Fools And Horses, Just Good Friends, and Allo, Allo! after commissioning the shows while he was head of comedy at BBC television, from 1977 to 1982.

The son of novelist and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Jack Davies and novelist Dorothy, Davies was born in London on March 9, 1939.

After starring as the orphan Oliver in the famous film which featured Alec Guinness as Fagin, he notched up three more big-screen credits - the Rocking Horse Winner (1949), playing Tom Brown in Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951) and The Magic Box (1951).

Davies became a BBC producer and director in 1969 after carrying out military service. He produced and directed The Goodies and Steptoe And Son among other TV favourites.

His son said he won two Baftas - one for best director for the first series of Monty Python's Flying Circus and later for the first series of Fawlty Towers, which he produced and directed.

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