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