Windsor Davies, actor

Windsor Davies's portrayal of the fierce, deep-voiced, moustached Sergeant-Major in the sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum made him a household name in the 1970s.

Windsor Davies

The actor and singer, who had died at 88, also gained chart-topping success with a novelty duet.

Born in 1930 to Welsh parents in Canning Town, east London, he moved to his father’s village in Ogmore Valley, Wales, at the outbreak of the Second World War.

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Davies worked as an electrical engineer in the mines, completed National Service in Libya and Egypt, and then trained as a teacher before taking up amateur dramatics in adulthood, according to the British Film Institute.

He spent around a decade trying to make it as an actor before his big break.

Supported by his wife Eluned, Davies played a number of supporting roles in dramas before being cast in BBC show It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974-81).

He played Battery Sergeant-Major “Shut Up” Williams, a ferocious disciplinarian determined to impose his authority upon the “bunch of poofs” in the Royal Artillery Concert Party.

The comedy star, whose catchphrases included the mocking “Oh dear, how sad, never mind”, once said the show was “my saviour” and “saved me from being a great actor”.

Away from TV, Davies had a number one single in 1975 with the novelty hit Whispering Grass along with co-star Don Estelle.

The track, which sold well over a million copies, was announced as the sixth-biggest selling duet of all time in 2011 by the Official Chart Company.

Davies struck up a successful partnership with the diminutive 4 ft 9 ins Estelle, who played Lofty in the 70s sitcom, after they met on the north of England club circuit.

A follow-up album by the duo, Sing Lofty, sold more than 80,000 copies.

It Ain’t Half Hot Mum ran for seven years and brought the release of a cast album of the show.

Davies’s credits also include Doctor Who, the TV series Ring Out An Alibi, The New Statesman, Terrahawks and Never The Twain, as well as the films Carry On England and Carry On Behind.

His most recent credited appearance was in an episode of My Family in 2004.

Eluned, his wife of 62 years, died in September and they leave behind “a large and very close family who will all remember them with love, laughter and gratitude”, a family statement said.

The couple are widely reported to have had five children, including the casting director Jane Davies.