Peter Jones (actor)

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Peter Jones
Peter Geoffrey Francis Jones

(1920-06-12)12 June 1920
Wem, Shropshire, England
Died10 April 2000(2000-04-10) (aged 79)
Westminster, London, England
OccupationActor, screenwriter, broadcaster
Years active1936–2000
Spouse(s) Jeri Sauvinet (? – 1999) (her death)

Peter Geoffrey Francis Jones (12 June 1920 10 April 2000) [1] was an English actor, screenwriter and broadcaster.



Early life and career

Peter Jones, born in Wem, Shropshire [2] [3] , was educated at Wem Grammar School and Ellesmere College, making his first appearance as an actor in Wolverhampton at the age of 16 and then appeared in repertory theatre in East Anglia. In 1942 he acted on the West End stage in The Doctor's Dilemma and in 1942 he made an uncredited film appearance in Fanny by Gaslight . An early film credit was as a Xenobian trade delegate in Chance of a Lifetime (1950).

He co-wrote the 1954 play The Party Spirit which ran in the West End with Ralph Lynn and Robertson Hare.


Between 1952 and 1955 Jones starred alongside Peter Ustinov in the BBC radio comedy In All Directions. The show featured Jones and Ustinov as themselves in a car in London perpetually searching for Copthorne Avenue. The comedy derived from the characters they met along the way, often also played by themselves. The show was unusual for the time in that it was largely improvised—with the tape subsequently edited for broadcast by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, who also sometimes took part. Two of the more popular characters were Morris and Dudley Grosvenor, two rather stupid East End spivs whose sketches always ended with the phrase "Run for it Dudley" (or Morry as appropriate). Three recordings survive in the BBC Sound Archive. The Grosvenor character was revived for a later radio series We're in Business, co-starring Harry Worth. Another notable radio role was as Mervyn Bunter in Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey stories. He was for 29 years a regular contestant on the panel game Just A Minute , becoming much-loved for his dry, acid wit. [4]

He was the voice of The Book in the original radio series of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy . The creators had wanted someone with a "Peter Jonesy sort of voice" and after several rejections asked Jones himself. [5] He reprised the role for the LP and the TV series. Jones narrated Douglas Adams's later radio series Last Chance to See , in a style similar to the earlier series.

Jones had a role in Patrick Barlow's The Patrick and Maureen Maybe Music Experience .

He wrote and narrated J Kingston Platt's Showbiz Handbook in the early 1990s for BBC Radio 4. These comic monologues are the fictional memoirs of an actor and producer working in British theatre and film from the 1940s to the 1980s; the stories being partially based on his own career.

Jones starred as the lead character Julius Hutch, in two series of four episodes of Risk Capital in 1995 and 1997 for BBC.


On television, he was best known for his lead role as Mr Fenner in the Classic Comedy series The Rag Trade (BBC TV 1961-63, LWT 1977-78), but he also had acting roles in the British comedy series Beggar My Neighbour , The Goodies , the courtroom drama Rumpole of the Bailey , Holby City , Whoops Apocalypse , The Bill , Midsomer Murders , Minder and two episodes of The Avengers .

He also starred in the filmed comedy series From a Bird's Eye View (1970), a vehicle for Millicent Martin, in an attempt to break into the American market. He also appeared as Maurice Morris in Season 5 Episode 3 of the British comedy series Man About The House (1975)

From 1969 to 1971, Jones also starred (opposite Sheila Hancock) in a sitcom (for ITV, by Yorkshire Television) called Mr Digby, Darling, lasting 3 series (and 19 episodes). An occasional scriptwriter, he co-wrote and starred in the sitcom Mr Big (1977), with Ian Lavender, Prunella Scales and Carol Hawkins. [1]

He did various other TV work, including starring in the 1984 ITV sitcom I Thought You'd Gone with Pat Heywood. [6] He also appeared as former Detective Inspector Henry Keys in the 1994 Minder episode The Great Depression of 1994.. [7] One of his last broadcasts before his death was narrating the Doctor Who documentary Adventures in Space and Time. [8]


Jones featured in a number of films, including Private's Progress (1956), School for Scoundrels (1960, reprising his Dudley Grosvenor character as a used-car salesman with Dennis Price), Just like a Woman (1967) alongside Wendy Craig, The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) and Chariots of Fire (1981).

Personal life and death

Jones died of natural causes, aged 79, in 2000 at Westminster, London. [9] [10] His wife, Jeri Sauvinet, was an American theatre actress who pre-deceased him in 1999. [2] She played Miss Rufford in Lady Windermere's Fan , the comedy play by Oscar Wilde. [11] They had three children together; a daughter, Selena (later Carey-Jones and then Doggett-Jones), and two sons Charles Daniel Jones, and the producer Bill Dare Jones.

Selected filmography

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  1. 1 2 Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 407. ISBN   1-84854-195-3.
  2. 1 2 Dennis Barker (11 April 2000). "Peter Jones". The Guardian . Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  3. GRO Register of Births: JUN 1920 6a(?) 1433(?) WEM - Peter G. F. Jones, mmn = Francis
  4. "ENTERTAINMENT | Comedy veteran Peter Jones dies". BBC News. 10 April 2000. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  5. Adams, Douglas; Perkins, Geoffrey (9 December 1987). The original Hitchhiker radio scripts. Harmony Books. p. 32. ISBN   978-0-517-55950-5 . Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  6. "I Thought You'd Gone (1984)". Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  8. "Doctor Who: Adventures in Space and Time (1999)". Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  9. GRO Register of Deaths: APR 2000 A43C 263 WESTMINSTER - Peter Geoffrey F Jones, DoB = 12 Jun 1920, aged 79
  10. "Peter Jones profile". BFI . Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  11. "Inside the Playbill: Lady Windermere's Fan - November 25, 1946 at Cort Theatre". Playbill . p. 2. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  12. Release date for The Magic Box, in IMDb.