Toke Townley

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Toke Townley
Sam Pearson.png
Townley as Sam Pearson in Emmerdale Farm
John Antony Townley

(1912-11-06)6 November 1912
Died27 September 1984(1984-09-27) (aged 71)

John Antony Townley (6 November 1912 – 27 September 1984), known professionally as Toke Townley, was an English actor. [1]



Townley was born on 6 November 1912 at Great Dunmow, Essex; [2] his father was a vicar. His first name, "John", was changed to "Toke" shortly after his birth. After he left school he worked as a clerk in a factory, acting in his spare time. [3] He did not become a professional actor until his early 30s, first appearing at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. [4] He appeared in many BBC television programmes during the early pioneering days at Alexandra Palace. [1]

Between 1951 and 1970, in the heyday of the British studios, Townley appeared in almost thirty films, including Lady Godiva Rides Again , Doctor at Sea , The Quatermass Xperiment , The Admirable Crichton , Carry on Admiral , Doctor in Distress and Scars of Dracula . [1] [5]

He went on to appear in many film and television roles over the years, including The Avengers . [6] He was also an accomplished flautist and played the instrument on screen. [7]

Many of his roles were country bumpkins, so it was an appropriate move when Townley joined Emmerdale (known from 1972 until 1989 as Emmerdale Farm) as Annie Sugden's father, Sam Pearson, complete with cloth cap and collarless shirt, when the serial began in 1972. [8] Although Sam was said to have been born in the 1890s, Townley was actually just seven years older than Sheila Mercier, who played his daughter. He appeared in over 800 episodes of Emmerdale Farm. Loved and admired by the rest of the cast of the rural soap opera, Townley was said to be a private person, living alone at a Leeds hotel, near where the programme was filmed. He died of a heart attack whilst still in the soap so his character was killed off. [7] [9]

Partial filmography

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  1. 1 2 3 "Toke Townley". BFI.
  2. The Encyclopaedia of British Film, fourth edition, Brian McFarlane, Anthony Slide, Manchester University Press, 2016, p. 2077
  3. Quinlan's Illustrated Directory of Film Character Actors, David Quinlan, Batsford, 1995, p. 347
  4. "Toke Townley | Theatricalia".
  5. "Toke Townley | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  6. "Toke Townley".
  7. 1 2 "▷ Emmerdale's Sam Pearson".
  8. "Emmerdale is 45 today... and look who's back in the Woolpack".
  9. "Emmerdale Farm[04/05/82] (1982)".