Ann Davies obituary | Television

Actress Ann Davies, who died aged 87, was a friendly, light-touch character player who was a familiar face on the small screen – sometimes alongside her husband, Richard Briers.

She was a gifted performer in her own right – petite with laughing eyes and cherubic features that lent themselves to comedic characters, she proved equally capable of great drama.

TV immortality came early when she teamed up with the first Doctor Who, William Hartnell, in 1964’s The Dalek Invasion of Earth. As Jenny, a determined and capable freedom fighter, Davies was a cold and efficient co-fighter with series regular Barbara (Jacqueline Hill, in real life Davies’ friend and neighbor).

The action required them to encounter the Daleks in gripping scenes filmed at London landmarks. At one point they ran over a patrol with a van, necessitating early morning gunfire in the capital to avoid crowds. Although only a guest role in her long career, Davies has remained in demand for Doctor Who interviews and signings.

If Jenny had a tough exterior that masked great vulnerability, then Dorothy Clarke in a 1996 adaptation of Minette Walters’ The Sculptress, starring Pauline Quirke, found Davies deftly the other way round, distracting audiences with an understated persona. and shy that masked the fact that she was the killer in the room. Another of her favorite performances was in Jill Hyem’s Equal Terms (1973), a two-handed film in which she played a former psychiatric patient presenting a tricky case for Judy Parfitt’s novice social worker.

Ann Davies with her husband, Richard Briers, at the premiere of Peter Pan at the Empire, Leicester Square, London, in 2003. Photography: Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

Ann was born in Hornchurch, east London, the eldest child of Ronald Davies, a solicitor, and his wife, Sally (née Simmonds), who worked as a secretary. Thanks to the Second World War, her early education was itinerant until she moved to Queen’s School in Chester. Academically brilliant, she was encouraged by her parents and teachers to go to Oxford or Cambridge University, but her love for the theater led her to “run away to the circus” and she joined the Liverpool Playhouse as acting stage manager at the age of 18.

She was offered a place at Rada in London in 1956, but while at Liverpool she had fallen in love with Briers after taking pity on the thin and hungry newcomer to the business and cooking meals for him. They were married within eight months and so she mastered her craft first in Liverpool, then in repertoire in Coventry and Guildford, before making her London debut at the Arts Theater in 1959.

She and Briers tried to work together whenever possible, including in Major Barbara (in which she was Jenny Hill, Belgrade theatre, 1958), Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theater touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with Davies as First Fairy, 1990-91) and in Simon Paisley Day’s Spike (Davies as the repressed wife, Nuffield theatre, Southampton, 2001), this time joined by their daughter Lucy and in which Davies was “perfectly cast” depending on the scene and “superb” in the opinion of The Telegraph.

After her first appearance on the small screen in 1955, she was part of British television furniture for five decades, in popular dramas – Z-Cars (four different roles between 1968 and 1973), Poldark (1976), Within These Walls (1975- 78), Widows (1985), The Bill (three roles, 1993-96), EastEnders (1997), Grange Hill (1998-99), Doctors (2003) and Whitechapel (2013) – and comedy – Charley’s Aunt (1965) , All in Good Faith (1988), After Henry (1990) and Keeping Up Appearances (1993).

She was Bridget Bigwell in Alvin Rakoff’s 11-part production of John Mortimer’s Paradise Postponed (1986) and had a lot of fun playing Mrs. Ripper opposite her husband’s Martin Bryce in Ever Decreasing Circles (1987-89 ). She also appeared in the Branagh feature films Peter’s Friends (1992) and In the Bleak Midwinter (1995), and the big screen Run For Your Wife (2012).

Dedicated to her family, she ensured that her daughters had the further education she had denied herself, although she later graduated from the Open University.

Briers died in 2013. She is survived by their daughters, Kate and Lucy, her siblings, Sally, Maggi and Richard, and two grandchildren, Harry and Rachael.

Ann Cuerton Davies, actress, born November 25, 1934; died on April 26, 2022

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