William Davis, writer

William Davis
William Davis
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William Davis, who has died at 85, was the former editor of Punch and a journalist to whom Margaret Thatcher looked to for advice.

He was also a prolific author and a regular broadcaster on such BBC staples as The Money Programme and radio’s The World at One, on which he was one of the first presenters.

He worked at the Financial Times, the London Evening Standard as City editor, and The Guardian as economics editor, and eventually became editor of Punch, a venerable source of satire, in 1968.

An admirer of Baroness Thatcher, he advised her from “time to time”.

“He would go and see her in Number 10 and give her advice - talking really about how you frame the message – it was really communications advice,” said his daughter, Jacki.

Born in Hanover, Germany, in 1933, he had moved to Britain at 16, taking citizenship and changing his name.

His wartime childhood in Germany was “very grim”, with death and destruction witnessed at first hand, he was to recall on Desert Island Discs.

“It has still left a deep mark on me and it is still there,” he said.

Describing the bombing, with the aircraft flying overhead each night, he said as a child he did not know if he would be alive the next morning.

“One of the main things, results, is that I have ever since been grateful for the good things that have happened to me, I don’t take them for granted,” he said.

“I really don’t have much time for people, particularly young people, complaining about life today. Because as far as I am concerned, they have never had it so good because they have not had to go through the horrifying experience of war.”

Davis said his arrival in the UK had been met with a “great deal of hostility towards anything German”. He pretended instead to be Austrian.

But he became a powerful advocate for Britishness, writing a book on the subject and launching the in-flight magazine of British Airways. He was also chairman of the British Tourist Authority and English Tourist Board.

He wrote more than 20 books in all, and was working on his latest when he died. It was to have been an exploration of the Hitler Youth, and the extent to which people could be brainwashed and presented with an alternative world view.

He is survived by his wife, Sylvette, daughters Sue and Jacki, and two grandchildren. He lost his son, Simon, at a young age.