Anchorman of World of Sport from 1968 until 1985, Dickie Davies was an instantly recognisable face whose passing in February 2023 was greeted with an outpouring of warmth from those who remembered his trusty and unflappable presence on the small screen. He was the presenter with a twinkle in his eye and a trademark white quiff with its Mallen Streak.

Born in Wallasey, within Cheshire’s historic boundaries, the son of Owen Davies and Ellen née Owen, Richard John Davies attended Oldershaw Grammar School before National Service in the RAF. He then worked as a clerk in a New Brighton amusement arcade ahead of pursuing a career as a purser on the Cunard ocean-going liners RMS Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and spending around 10 years at sea. He’d achieve head purser on the latter, organising the ship’s entertainment, or ‘a glorified Redcoat’ as he modestly described it. Luckily for Davies, a passenger spotted his ease behind a mic and suggested a job in broadcasting. He quickly got himself an interview with Southern Television and a new career was launched in 1961. Davies began broadcasting as an announcer for Southern Television, his early forays being as Richard Davies, his birth name, before one Jimmy Hill persuaded him that Dickie Davies might be catchier. He also read some regional news and hosted talent shows. Davies married Liz Hastings, a Southern TV vision mixer in 1962; they had twin sons, Peter and Daniel.

He moved on to ITV’s World of Sport in 1965, or Wide World of Sports, as it was known initially, understudying Eamonn Andrews to begin with. When Andrews left the programme in 1968, the same year the alliterative ‘Dickie Davies’ was adopted he took over as presenter.

Great British Life: TV sports presenter supreme, Dickie Davies. TV sports presenter supreme, Dickie Davies. (Image: PA Pictures)

Davies was sufficiently well-known come 1972 for him to make a cameo appearance in the TV series Budgie (1971-72) starring Adam Faith and Iain Cuthbertson. Davies appeared in a scene at a racetrack in the episode The Outside Man. He also achieved another cameo in 1979 in Guilty or Not Guilty in series three of Mind Your Language (original series 1977-79), which starred Barry Evans as an English as a foreign language teacher. Davies’s career thrived in tandem with World of Sport, where he intuitively understood what made the programme work and why ten million viewers were hanging on his every word. Although some would laugh at the wrestling on ITV, Davies was never one of them, as he understood the vitality of the 4pm Saturday slot and the loyalty of the grapple fans who lapped it up. In off-duty moments Davies admitted to not being a fan, and questioning whether it was truly a sport, but the viewing figures spoke for themselves. There was competition with BBC’s Grandstand having a bigger budget and more of UK sport’s crown-jewel events, so whatever was available to World of Sport was embraced and sometimes this was the unfashionable and obscure. Dickie Davies had a gift for making us believe even the oddest ‘sports’ had a place at the top table and deserved to be taken seriously; enter drag racing, karting, log rolling and barrel jumping. The essential truth that sport is sport and really not the ‘be all and end all’, as some adherents would claim, was perhaps never better illustrated than when Davies and Eric Morecambe messed about on ‘World of Sport’ on the Christmas Eve show (1977) when the comedian used Dickie’s head as a snooker rest amid a general level of chaos.

Davies was always a dapper dresser on TV, all colourful jacket and kipper tie, and admitted his desirable attire came from New York from where he returned with suits that were ‘the envy of every dance hall in Southampton’. In typically self-effacing manner though, he would also add the clothes came from a ‘shady’ emporium some of whose stock was recovered from morgues, which meant, given New York’s reputation at the time, it was always worth checking for any tell-tale repairs (bullet holes or knifings primarily). It was the ‘Suicide Shop’ on Third Avenue he visited, and it really did take clothes straight from the mortuary including stuff worn by gangsters.

Davies never took himself too seriously and was not overly concerned about making himself look foolish. Being parodied by Benny Hill was further evidence, if any were needed, that he had become a household name. He was also a welcoming presence for those less experienced than himself, an aspect of him recalled with gratitude by Jim Rosenthal whose TV career began when he joined ITV in 1980. His summation was that Dickie was just a genuine guy who knew how to treat people. He made lives easier rather than more difficult. Dickie Davies's gift was to treat everyone the same and make them feel they mattered.

Great British Life: Dickie Davies when he co-hosted Bobby Charlton's Football Scrapbook in the mid-1990s.Dickie Davies when he co-hosted Bobby Charlton's Football Scrapbook in the mid-1990s. (Image: Alamy)

World of Sport would end in 1985, a 17-year stint at the helm of a live programme for Davies, who’d barely slipped up in that time, despite the complexity of what he was asked to control over a five-hour marathon, moving rapidly from one football ground to another as he went round the essential half-time scores and reports, while slotting in horse racing, etc. Not only was he an expert at the continued chopping-and-changing, but he was also highly knowledgeable about his subject matter; meticulously prepared too, and someone who could make any guests at home and relaxed enough to talk and provide insightful, meaningful interviews.

He continued working for the broadcaster, presenting a medley of sports including darts, snooker, gymnastics and boxing, once donning a tux for the then richest scrap in boxing history – Hagler versus Leonard in Las Vegas (1987) – as well as presenting FA Cup finals and featuring in the coverage of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the fourth Olympics he’d been involved in. The following year he parted company with ITV Sport (August 1989), the same year that the rock band Half Man Half Biscuit released Dickie Davies Eyes. The group had been formed five years earlier in Birkenhead so would have known all about the local boy done good. After ITV, Davies joined forces with the partially Sky-owned Eurosport and continued fronting snooker coverage before presenting sports bulletins for Classic FM. A stroke suffered in 1995 saw his speech affected for a year or two but he came back to present Dickie Davies’ Sporting Heroes in the late-1990s.

Dickie Davies died on February 19, 2023, aged 94. Social media can be a pretty distasteful medium at times, and the world of television invites its critics, but on Twitter, or X as it now is, there was not an unkind word said about him, irrespective of whether the posts were from those who worked in sport and broadcasting or those who’d grown up watching the man with the moustachioed, side-burned Pancho Villa lookalike make broadcasting seem easy, especially with his infectious, ready smile.


1928 – Birth of Richard John Davies in Wallasey (April 30)

1961 – Davies starts his TV career with Southern Television as a presenter

1962 – Marries Liz Hastings, a Southern Television vision mixer

1965 – Begins working for ITV’s World of Sport, as understudy to Eamonn Andrews

1968 – Takes over as the presenter of World of Sport, continuing until 1985

1977 – Chaos reigns on ‘World of Sport’ as Eric Morecambe joins Dickie Davies in the studio

1989 – Davies parts company with ITV Sport four years after the end of World of Sport

2023 – Death of Dickie Davies (February 19) aged 94