Star of the Month


Jack Warner (1895 - 1981)

There was a time when Jack Warner was little more than the catchphrase "Evening all" as his work on Dixon of Dock Green overshadowed his other work. Now, with Dixon fading into folk memory and his film work more accessible than it has been for years, it's time to re-evaluate his legacy.

 Jack Warner was genuinely a cockney - born within the sound of Bow Bells. His father made funeral fittings. Warner served in the Royal Air Force in World War One earning a Meritorious Service Medal. He began his working life as a car salesman but moved into motor racing. He started a semi-pro double act with Jeff Darnell, changing his name to Warner in order to distinguish himself from his sisters Esther and Doris Waters who had already built up a reputation on the halls as Gert and Daisy.

Success came a lot slower for Warner and it was only when he was featured on BBC Radio's Garrison Theatre in the early days of World War Two that he became a well-known comic. His personal was that of a cheery Cockney, walking on with a bicycle ("Mind my bike!") and proceeding to read a letter from his brother Sid from overseas.

He made one foray into film with The Dummy Talks during the war years, but it was after the war concluded  that his film career took off. With the new post-war spirit, there was now a place in British cinema for serious portrayals of working class folk. Warner quickly established himself as an authoritative figure, laid-back but with total integrity. In the film Holiday Camp he played Pa Huggett, the first and most successful of his working-class dad characters. This was successful enough for Gainsborough to try a spin-off series for the Huggetts. Though fondly remembered, the series wasn't a huge hit, but it did inspire a long-running radio sitcom.    

 He spent the 50s portraying a series of dads, soldiers and coppers. The most significant of these portrayals would turn out to be his P.C. George Dixon in The Blue Lamp though no one would have thought it at the time. Writer Ted Willis based his series Dixon of Dock Green on the character he created for The Blue Lamp despite the fact that Dixon was murdered by Dirk Bogarde's character in the film. Dixon first aired in 1955 and continued until 1976.

Though Warner continued to make sporadic appearances in film, television and variety shows, Dixon dominated his professional life. He was still playing the character into his 80s by which point Dixon had been promoted to a desk job. After Dixon he made the occasional appearance in cabaret until the stroke that debilitated him in the last year of his life. At his funeral the coffin was carried by officers of Paddington Green Police Station.

Filmography 

1943 The Dummy Talks
1946 The Captive Heart
1947 Hue and Cry
1947 Dear Murderer
1947 Holiday Camp
1947 It Always Rains on Sunday
1948 Easy Money
1948 Against the Wind
1948 My Brother's Keeper
1948 Here Come the Huggetts
1949 Vote for Huggett
1949 The Huggetts Abroad
1949 Train of Events
1949 The Boys in Brown
1950 The Blue Lamp
1951 Talk of a Million
1951 Valley of Eagles
1951 Scrooge
1952 Emergency Call
1952 Meet Me Tonight
1953 Those People Next Door
1953 The Square Ring
1953 The Final Test
1953 Albert R.N.
1954 Bang! You're Dead
1954 Forbidden Cargo
1955 The Quatermass Xperiment
1955 The Ladykillers
1956 Now and Forever
1956 Home and Away
1958 Carve Her Name With Pride
1960 Upgreen - and at 'Em
1962 Jigsaw
1979 Dominique

Jack Warner at Amazon UK  

Jack Warner at Amazon US