Peter Hawkins

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Peter Hawkins
Hawkins in 1996
Peter John Hawkins

(1924-04-03)3 April 1924
Brixton, London, England
Died8 July 2006(2006-07-08) (aged 82)
London, England
Occupation(s)Actor, voice artist
Years active1949–1992
Rosemary Miller
(m. 1956)

Peter John Hawkins (3 April 1924 – 8 July 2006) was a British actor. From the 1950s to 1980s, he was one of the most sought-after voice artists for television.

Early life[edit]

Peter John Hawkins was born on 3 April 1924 in Hargwyne Street in Brixton, south London, to Detective Inspector John Stephen and piano player Doris Matilda. According to son Silas, his father's talent was derived from his mother's ability to mimic others. He made his first stage appearance as a member of the chorus in a musical. During his last year at school, he wrote, with three friends, a revue entitled The Five Bs, the name of their form. He worked at Pitman's from the ages of 16 to 18, writing similar shows at a youth club. Hawkins joined the Royal Navy, entertaining with impressions for which he wrote scripts, and survived when HMS Limbourne sank after being torpedoed escorting the cruiser Charybdis near Guernsey. He was rescued by Ronnie Hill, a theatre actor at the time, and while recovering he took part in plays, which resulted in his being taken into Combined Operations' Entertainments productions of the Royal Naval Barracks' Scran Bag.[1]


Following his time with Scran Bag, Peter won a two-year place at the Central School of Speech and Drama,[1] and in 1949 his television career began with an adaptation of J.B. Priestley's The Good Companions.[2] He began his long association with children's television with the magazine programme Whirligig voicing several characters, including Mr. Turnip, Alexander Scrope, Petrio in Stranger from Space, Albert in Jeremy Make-Believe and the Can We Help You? segment. Peter joined the show after being asked by the producer of a children’s serial he was playing the villain for.[3]

In 1952, Peter became the voices of both Bill and Ben, the Flower Pot Men, for which he invented their Oddle-Poddle language. He made Bill's voice higher-pitched and Ben's lower-pitches to distinguish them, and praised the puppetry of Audrey Atterbury.[4] The scripts would be written in English, and Peter would translate them into Oddle-Poddle,[5] creating words similar to "Slogalog" (Slowcoach the Tortoise) and "Haddap" (Hello).[6] He, Audrey and Gladys Whitred would keep in touch for at least thirty years afterward.[7]

In 1956, Peter married actress Rosemary Miller, who he met doing voices on Toytown.[3] Peter was Ernest the Policeman, and reprised the role for the 1972 series.[8] On 27 August 1959 they had a son named Silas, who was named in case he grew up to become an actor, which he did, going to follow his parents' careers and provide voiceovers on shows such as Summerton Mill. Despite his busy schedule, Peter spent lots of time with his son, reading bedtime stories as if he was recording, which Silas thought was overwhelming.[1] Peter would also meet Roy Skelton during Toytown, becoming a close friend.[9] He would also be offered the role of a Doctor in Rosemary’s star series Emergency Ward 10, although due to his many voice roles he was unable to appear.[3]

One of his best-known roles was all the voices in Captain Pugwash. Creator John Ryan praised him for his ability to perform many different voices,[10] although he had to be hidden behind a monitor due to his facial expressions distracting the animators.[11] Because of this he could write down notes about incidental characters in the script and be reminded by them appearing onscreen.[6]

Peter gained a reputation for pulling off difficult character voices,[12] which led to him being cast as the Daleks in Doctor Who in 1963.[12] After a trial session he settled on a monotone, which caused worry among executives that it would become monotonous.[1] He got around this problem by rising in pitch when the Daleks got angry.[12] Peter would voice the Daleks in every subsequent 1960s story they appeared in, as well as the two 1960s feature films, The Curse of the Daleks stage play[1] and Out of the Unknown, and he and fellow Dalek voice David Graham would become lifelong friends, although star William Hartnell and guest star Kevin Stoney would also strike up a relationship. Despite son Silas being a Doctor Who fan, he didn't find it weird that it was his father voicing the Daleks, although the Daily Express framed it as if he boasted to his friends about it, which Peter hated.[1]

In 1966, Peter voiced the Cybermen in the fourth and final part of the Doctor Who serial The Tenth Planet, originated by Roy Skelton. For the subsequent three Cyberman serials he used an electrolarynx, which he described as very uncomfortable. He considered the story and cast of his last Dalek story, The Evil of the Daleks, to be the best. Peter never returned afterwards as he had enough of having to fund it himself. He was, however, going to be the voice of K9 before John Leeson, who Peter had worked with on the first year of Thames Television's Rainbow, won the role.[1]

One of his most prominent live-action roles in the period was 1965's The Big Spender, for which he grew and curled his hair for three months.[13] In 1969 he played an Albanian interpreter speaking English in The Power Game, which he considered his hardest role to play.[14]

In 1972 Peter joined the ensemble of Dave Allen at Large, even writing various skits,[1] and staying until 1978, as well as voicing Zippy in Rainbow. In the pilot he also voiced Sunshine, Bramble and Pillar, but after many policy changes they were removed. He tried to rewrite gags, which proved hard for the target audience, and so left the series despite being asked to stay.[1] He was eventually replaced by Roy Skelton, who he recommended.[15]

Throughout the 1980s, as well as providing voices in SuperTed, The Family-Ness and Jimbo and the Jet-Set, Peter reprised his roles of Bill and Ben for various shows, including Six Fifty-Five Special and Blue Peter.[16] He claimed the reason for being able to remember such voices was that he believed that the right voice would appear if the right ideas were thought in a live-action role, and used the same thoughts to reprise the role.[6] In 1988 he, his wife Rosemary Miller and David Graham did voices together for the English dub of German animated film Stowaways on the Ark.

Due to his role as Spotty Dog in The Woodentops, he was chosen by Nick Park to voice Gromit in his short film A Grand Day Out.[17] He eventually decided to make Gromit a mute character to save on the effort required to animate his mouth, instead using his eyes and monobrow to communicate.[18] None of Hawkins’s original dialogue has been publicly released. Although Gromit snores and whimpers in A Grand Day Out, whether or not these were recorded by him is unconfirmed.[19]

Silas reckons his father had the most involvement with the Flower Pot Men, for which he invented their Oddle-Poddle language, although he also enjoyed the diverse cast of Captain Pugwash, being very proud when it appeared in The Times as a crossword clue: "The captain is all for the dog having a bath".[1] By comparison, when it was claimed Hilda Brabban created the Flower Pot Men, he immediately wrote a rebuttal.[20] According to Silas, Peter gave thought to every role, yet never looked back at them.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Hawkins was interested in jewellery, fossils, serious music and eating out, and supported Chelsea.[1] He used his record collection to expand his vocal range,[3] and also had a collection of Japanese sword guards and Impressionist works, including those of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet, much to the delight of Gale Pedrick.[1] In 1977 however he sold his collection of sword guards at Sotheby's, with the highest-selling, by Seiyoken Hagiya Katsuhira and depicting the Three Sake Tasters, fetching £4,200, an auction record.[21] Wife Rosemary Miller also had an interest in collecting paintings.[3] Peter considered his collection as "applause" for his busy yet anonymous voice work. He once hosted dinner with William Hartnell, although Hartnell drove in circles for hours looking for his house.[1]

Health issues[edit]

Hawkins regularly smoked 20 Olivier in his prime, and later it would give him eczema. According to Silas, Rosemary would constantly dress his rashes. In 1992, he began operation to remove a tumor in his brain, which left him unable to read and made him very drowsy.[1]


Hawkins died on 8 July 2006, aged 82, of pneumonia. The funeral was held at St. Matthews in Queensway, where Silas was baptised. A showing of The Survivors, his first Doctor Who episode, was arranged, and Silas scattered his ashes at Fermain Bay, Guernsey, where HMS Limbourne sank.[1]



Year Title Role Notes
1952 The Lost Hours Mechanic Uncredited
1964 No Short Cut Narrator voice only, uncredited
1965 Dr. Who and the Daleks Daleks voice only, uncredited
Look at Life: James Bond's Island Narrator Part of Look at Life, voice only
1966 Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. Daleks voice only, uncredited
1969 Tintin and the Temple of the Sun Captain Haddock English version, voice only, uncredited
1975 Great Voices
Super Natural Gas Voices
1979 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Dwarf


voice only
1980 Rail Report 13: On Track for the Eighties Narrator British Transport Films, voice only, uncredited for latter two
Centenary Express Narrator
1981 The Train Makers Narrator
Moon Man Narrator voice only
1984 And the Walls Came Tumbling Down Narrator documentary film, voice only
1988 Stowaways on the Ark Willi Worm English version, voice only
1989 Asterix and the Big Fight Getafix English version, voice only
1990 Peter in Magicland Sandman English version, voice only



Year Title Role Notes
1949 The Good Companions Albert Tuggeridge TV movie
Old English Reporter
1950-1956 Whirligig Mr. Turnip

Alexander Scrope



91 episodes
1951-1953 Saturday Special Porterhouse 35 episodes
1951 Aladdin Lord High Chamberlain TV movie
1952 Three Little Mushrooms Voices 5 episodes
1952-1953 Flower Pot Men Bill


26 episodes
1953 Peter and the Wolf Narrator TV movie
1954 Harlequinade Voices TV movie
1955 The Travelling Musicians Voices TV movie
1955-1956 A Rubovian Legend Lord Chamberlain

Albert Weatherspoon

Series 1: (4 episodes)
The Woodentops Spotty Dog 26 episodes
1956 The Bird of Truth Voices TV movie
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Cheshire Cat TV Movie
1956-1957 Billy Bean and His Funny Machine Billy Bean 14 episodes
1956-1958 Toytown Ernest the Policeman 18 episodes
1957 The Emperor's Nightingale Voices TV movie
Beauty and the Beast Voices TV movie
The Machine Breakers Tom Thorpe 3 episodes
The Stolen Miniatures Henry TV movie
Studio E Willoughby 7 episodes
Treasure Island Narrator 7 episodes
1958 The Thompson Family Ron Hicks 3 episodes
Life with the Lyons Unknown Episode “Who’s Your Lady Friend?”
1959 Call Me Sam Unknown Episode 2
1959-1960 Small Time Bruin and other voices In shows Brock and Bruin, The Lost Invitation and Cookery Tales of Oaktree Kitchen


Year Title Role Notes
1960 The Days of Vengeance P.C. Harris and Narrator 6 episodes
1960-1962 Playbox Ben Cooke

Jack Royde

2 episodes
1963 Blue Peter Narrator (In Search of a Unicorn and Little Watha segments) 6 episodes
1963-1968 Doctor Who Dalek voices

Cybermen voices

51 episodes
1964-1966 Songs for the Times Narrator 5 episodes
1965 The Newcomers Radio announcer 2 episodes
1965-1966 The Big Spender Spiro 5 episodes
1966 The Wednesday Play Mr Willis Episode "A Walk in the Sea"
Softly, Softly Detective Sergeant Thorne Episode 14 "Blind Man's Buff"
The Prizewinners Narrator (A Policeman’s Lot) TV movie
1967 Merry-Go-Round Narrator Episode "The Flying Breeze"
1969 Hark at Barker Shoong Pu Teng Series 1, episode 7: "Rustless and the Solar System"
The Power Game Interpreter Episode "Standard Practice"
Out of the Unknown Dalek Episode "Get Off My Cloud"
1970 Doomwatch Computer Episode 5: "Project Sahara"
Paulus the Woodgnome Paulus English version, 39 episodes
1970-1971 The Tomfoolery Show Voices 17 episodes
1971 A Family at War Dimmock Episode "We Could Be a Lot Worse Off"
1972-1973 Stories from Toytown Voices 26 episodes
1972 The Adventures of Sir Prancelot All characters 31 episodes
The Dick Emery Show Unknown 1 episode
1972-1978 Dave Allen at Large Various 19 episodes
1972 The Shadow of the Tower Voice Episode 5: "The Serpent and the Comforter"
1972-1973 Rainbow Zippy Series 1: (50 episodes)
1973 Son of the Bride Mr. Cuthbertson Episode 3 "Of Unsound Mind"
The Count of Monte Cristo Voices 17 episodes
1974 Dial M for Murder Sergeant Maclean Episode 7 "Dead Connection"
Father Brown Gibbs Episode 1: "The Hammer of God"
1974-1975 Captain Pugwash All characters 30 episodes
1975 Sadie, It's Cold Outside Radio announcer Episode 4
1976 Bless This House Radio announcer (uncredited) Episode "Beautiful Dreamer"
Agaton Sax Narrator English version, 4 episodes
1978 The Glorious Musketeers Rochefort French film dubbed for TV
1979 The Perishers Marlon


20 episodes
Quincy's Quest Voices TV movie
1980-1986 The Adventure Game Opening narration 11 episodes, uncredited
1983-1986 SuperTed Narrator 36 episodes
1984 C.Q. Voices TV movie
1984-1985 The Family-Ness Voices 25 episodes
1985 Seaview Mynah bird Episode "The Godfather" credited in Radio Times only
1986-1987 Jimbo and the Jet-Set Voices 25 episodes
1989 Windfalls All characters 12 episodes
The Storyteller Devil Episode 1: "The Soldier and Death"
Theatre Night Michael Lomax Episode "Knuckle", uncredited
1989-1990 Penny Crayon Dennis 12 episodes
1991 The Storyteller: Greek Myths Vulture Episode 4 "Daedalus and Icarus"


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Hawkins, Silas (October 2014). "Voices-Voices-Voices!". Doctor Who Magazine. Panini Comics (477): 66.
  2. ^ "The Good Companions - 30th January 1949". Retrieved 20 May 2023. His first television role.
  3. ^ a b c d e London, Peter (16 May 1959). "He Speaks with a Hundred Voices". The Children's Newspaper. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  4. ^ "Andy Walmsley (18th December 2022) "70 years ago today BBC tv airs the first showing of Bill and Ben 'The Flower Pot Men'. Actor Peter Hawkins and puppeteer Audrey Atterbury talk to Jane Markham in 1989" - Twitter". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  5. ^ "Trumpton Riots - Pugwash, Windy and Barney McGrew". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  6. ^ a b c "Six Fifty-Five Special - Puppets". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  7. ^ "Norman Wisdom". The Time of Your Life.
  8. ^ "Stories from Toytown featuring Larry the Lamb - Toonhound". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  9. ^ "Roy Skelton at The Day of the Daleks convention". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Puffin Annual No. 1 - Captain Pugwash article". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  11. ^ "Captions, Animations and Captain Pugwash". A Tech-Ops History. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  12. ^ a b c Talking Daleks. The Dalek Invasion of Earth DVD
  13. ^ "Voice Behind the Daleks - The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  14. ^ Daily Telegraph obituary
  15. ^ " (Wayback Machine) - Roy Skelton interview". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  16. ^ "BBC Archive - #OnThisDay 1952: Bill and Ben, Flower Pot Men, made their television debut. In 1984, Blue Peter reunited them with Peter Hawkins - the only person who truly understood them". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  17. ^ "Nick Park on making 'A Grand Day Out" at the NFTS". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  18. ^ "Wallace and Gromit: one man and his dog - The Telegraph". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  19. ^ "A Grand Day Out (lost Peter Hawkins' "Gromit" dialogue from stop-motion animated film; 1989)". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  20. ^ "The Hound: September 2005 - Toonhound". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  21. ^ "£4,200 paid for a tsuba sets auction record - The Times (14th October 1977)". Retrieved 29 August 2023.

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