Peter John Hawkins
3 April 1924
|Died||8 July 2006 (aged 82)|
|Occupation(s)||Actor, voice artist|
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.
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.
Following his time with Scran Bag, Peter won a two-year place at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and in 1949 his television career began with an adaptation of J.B. Priestley's The Good Companions. 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.
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. The scripts would be written in English, and Peter would translate them into Oddle-Poddle, creating words similar to "Slogalog" (Slowcoach the Tortoise) and "Haddap" (Hello). He, Audrey and Gladys Whitred would keep in touch for at least thirty years afterward.
In 1956, Peter married actress Rosemary Miller, who he met doing voices on Toytown. Peter was Ernest the Policeman, and reprised the role for the 1972 series. 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. Peter would also meet Roy Skelton during Toytown, becoming a close friend. 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.
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, although he had to be hidden behind a monitor due to his facial expressions distracting the animators. Because of this he could write down notes about incidental characters in the script and be reminded by them appearing onscreen.
Peter gained a reputation for pulling off difficult character voices, which led to him being cast as the Daleks in Doctor Who in 1963. After a trial session he settled on a monotone, which caused worry among executives that it would become monotonous. He got around this problem by rising in pitch when the Daleks got angry. 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 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.
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.
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. In 1969 he played an Albanian interpreter speaking English in The Power Game, which he considered his hardest role to play.
In 1972 Peter joined the ensemble of Dave Allen at Large, even writing various skits, 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. He was eventually replaced by Roy Skelton, who he recommended.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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". By comparison, when it was claimed Hilda Brabban created the Flower Pot Men, he immediately wrote a rebuttal. According to Silas, Peter gave thought to every role, yet never looked back at them.
Hawkins was interested in jewellery, fossils, serious music and eating out, and supported Chelsea. He used his record collection to expand his vocal range, 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. 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. Wife Rosemary Miller also had an interest in collecting paintings. 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.
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.
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.
|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|
|Super Natural Gas||Voices|
|1979||The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe||Dwarf
|1980||Rail Report 13: On Track for the Eighties||Narrator||British Transport Films, voice only, uncredited for latter two|
|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|
|1949||The Good Companions||Albert Tuggeridge||TV movie|
|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
|1953||Peter and the Wolf||Narrator||TV movie|
|1955||The Travelling Musicians||Voices||TV movie|
|1955-1956||A Rubovian Legend||Lord Chamberlain
|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|
|1960||The Days of Vengeance||P.C. Harris and Narrator||6 episodes|
|1963||Blue Peter||Narrator (In Search of a Unicorn and Little Watha segments)||6 episodes|
|1963-1968||Doctor Who||Dalek voices
|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|
|Quincy's Quest||Voices||TV movie|
|1980-1986||The Adventure Game||Opening narration||11 episodes, uncredited|
|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"|
- Hawkins, Silas (October 2014). "Voices-Voices-Voices!". Doctor Who Magazine. Panini Comics (477): 66.
- "The Good Companions - 30th January 1949". Retrieved 20 May 2023. His first television role.
- London, Peter (16 May 1959). "He Speaks with a Hundred Voices". The Children's Newspaper. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
- "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.
- "Trumpton Riots - Pugwash, Windy and Barney McGrew". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "Six Fifty-Five Special - Puppets". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "Norman Wisdom". The Time of Your Life.
- "Stories from Toytown featuring Larry the Lamb - Toonhound". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "Roy Skelton at The Day of the Daleks convention". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "Puffin Annual No. 1 - Captain Pugwash article". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "Captions, Animations and Captain Pugwash". A Tech-Ops History. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
- Talking Daleks. The Dalek Invasion of Earth DVD
- "Voice Behind the Daleks - The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- Daily Telegraph obituary
- "www.rainbow.web.com (Wayback Machine) - Roy Skelton interview". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "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.
- "Nick Park on making 'A Grand Day Out" at the NFTS". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "Wallace and Gromit: one man and his dog - The Telegraph". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "A Grand Day Out (lost Peter Hawkins' "Gromit" dialogue from stop-motion animated film; 1989)". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "The Hound: September 2005 - Toonhound". Retrieved 20 May 2023.
- "£4,200 paid for a tsuba sets auction record - The Times (14th October 1977)". Retrieved 29 August 2023.