John Howard Davies.

John Howard Davies


Add to or edit this Guide

Although he wasn't a household name, John Howard Davies was a king to sitcom fans. The master producer and director, who died in August at the age of 72, had his hands on the tiller of countless classics. A short tribute featuring John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson is followed by three jewels of the genre: probably the best Good Life, the escaped convicts episode of Steptoe and Son, and the sublime Gourmet Night outing of Fawlty Towers ("If you don't like duck, you're rather stuck").

There's a reason his shows bear repetition: they are immaculately crafted. Take that Good Life: you'll rarely see better performances in a sitcom half-hour.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 7th January 2012

Settle in for a night of vintage viewing on BBC Two, as the channel dedicates its schedule to comedy producer John Howard Davies, who died in August last year. Davies, who started life as an actor (he was Oliver Twist in David Lean's 1948 Dickens adaptation), eventually found his niche on the other side of the camera. Throughout the Seventies and Eighties, he played a key role in bringing a host of now-classics to the screen. His career kicked off with the zany Monty Python's Flying Circus, continued through the gritty Steptoe and Son and reached its zenith with the frenzied Fawlty Towers and the gentle class mockery of The Good Life. Davies was also a canny commissioner, green-lighting Yes, Minister and Only Fools and Horses during his tenure as the BBC's head of comedy.

Tonight's retrospective kicks off with a profile of Davies's life, before we're treated to two hours of his finest work, where we'll get to sample some classic moments with the Fawltys, the Goods and the Steptoes. The evening is rounded off with a documentary detailing the story behind Monty Python, including interviews with cast members and Davies himself.

Toby Dantzic, The Telegraph, 6th January 2012

BBC TV themes by Ronnie Hazlehurst

Following Monday's sad news of the untimely passing of producer/director, John Howard Davies, it started me thinking more about some of the individuals that have been a part of all of our British comedy lives for decades that we aren't even aware of.

Bill Young, Tellyspotting, 26th August 2011

John Howard Davies obituary

A child star as Oliver Twist, he became a key figure in epoch-making TV comedy.

Matthew Sweet, The Guardian, 25th August 2011

RIP John Howard Davies - thanks for lifetime of smiles

There are only a handful of individuals that any one of us crosses paths with, either directly or indirectly, who have an impact on so many lives. John Howard Davies was one such individual.

Bill Young, Tellyspotting, 24th August 2011

Fawlty Towers director John Howard Davies dies

John Howard Davies, the comedy producer and director responsible for shows such as Fawlty Towers, The Good Life and Mr. Bean, has died.

British Comedy Guide, 23rd August 2011

Video: Fawlty Towers producer John Howard Davies dies

John Howard Davies, who produced a string of comedy classics including Fawlty Towers and The Good Life, has died aged 72, his agent has confirmed.

Davies was head of comedy at the BBC from 1977 to 1982, launching classic shows such as Only Fools and Horses, Yes Minister and Allo, Allo!

The son of a comedy writer, he found fame as a child actor, making his debut as David Lean's Oliver Twist in 1948.

Will Gompertz, BBC News, 23rd August 2011

The legendary lost Men Behaving Badly pilot

Whilst working on this week's Britain In A Box, I had a rare treat when we managed to obtain a copy of the original, never-broadcast pilot of Men Behaving Badly. The pilot was made for Thames TV, directed by their then Head of Comedy, John Howard Davies and starred the eventual cast of the first series, Harry Enfield, Martin Clunes, Caroline Quentin and Lesley Ash.

Paul Jackson, BBC Blogs, 19th February 2011