John Hewer as Captain Birdseye
|Died||16 March 2008 86) (aged|
Hewer was born in Leyton in London, the son of an engine driver. He attended Leyton High School following which he worked for the Social Services Department for London County Council (LCC) dealing with people who had problems paying their rent until World War II when he served as a navigator in the Fleet Air Arm with which he travelled to Vancouver and the Caribbean and witnessed the result of the Hiroshima bombing, but he never saw action. During the war Hewer performed with a group that entertained other service personnel. On being demobbed he returned to working for LCC but feeling drawn to the stage he joined the Unity Theatre and became a stalwart of London's Players Theatre where he appeared throughout his career including in musical theatrical productions such as Sail Away and Six of One in London's West End theatre. The highlight of his theatrical career was starring opposite Julie Andrews in The Boy Friend on Broadway in the 1950s.
His television work included hosting the 1970s Canadian CTV variety series The Pig and Whistle, but he his most familiar role was as the fictitious sailor Captain Birdseye, the mascot for Birds Eye frozen foods in scores of British TV commercials from 1967 to 1998. In a 1993 poll he was voted the most recognised naval captain after Captain Cook.
With the actor Mike Hall he set up Hewer and Hall, the first conference production company in the UK to use the American model of "show business for business". The company presented conferences, product launches, training films and cabarets in the UK and across Europe; it was active in the late 1960s and early 70s and counted IBM, Mobil, Volkswagen, Beechams, and Gulf Oil among their clients.
Hewer married Edna Vernon in 1943, who predeceased him in 1998. Residing in Epping in his later years and finally Brinsworth House in Twickenham, London, Hewer died aged 86 on Sunday, 16 March 2008. He was survived by a son and daughter.
- The Dark Man (1951) - 1st Taxi Driver
- Assassin for Hire (1951) - Giuseppe Riccardi
- Law and Disorder (1958) - Foxy
- Operation Stogie (1959)
- Strip Tease Murder (1961) - Bert Black
- Three Spare Wives (1962) - Rupert
- Billy Budd (1962) - Dubbing
- Mister Ten Per Cent (1967) - Townsend
- Home Before Midnight (1979) - Donelly (Last appearance)
- John Hewer: Icon of TV advertisements - The Independent, 20 March 2008
- Obituary for John Hewer - The Daily Telegraph 22 March 2008
- John Hewer in the England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 - Ancestry.com ((subscription}}
- "Captain Birds Eye actor dies, 86". BBC News. BBC. 18 March 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
- John Hewer on IMDb
- The Times, 19 March 2008: John Hewer, original Captain Birdseye, dies aged 86
- BBC bio of John Hewer as "Captain Birdseye"
- The Guardian, 18 March 2008: Captain Birds Eye actor dies
- The Daily Telegraph, 19 March 2008: Captain Birdseye actor John Hewer dies