Poldark's Phil Davis
Week of September 28, 2015
Phil Davis
Phil Davis.

I recently had a request to feature Phil Davis, an actor whose name you might not recall, but who is surely a familiar face. Some of the series he’s appeared in include Poldark, New Tricks, Midsomer Murders, Death in Paradise, Silk, Sherlock, Lark Rise to Candleford, Inspector George Gently, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: Sleeping Murder, and Inspector Morse.

Phil Davis
With wife Eve Mattheson.

Mr. Davis also has a big connection with the Afternoon Tea series May to December; Eve Mattheson who plays Zoe Angell in the show is the actor’s wife! The couple, who have a daughter, have been married since 2002. Davis also has a son who was born in 1996 from a previous relationship. In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper the actor said that "fatherhood had a profound effect" on him and he claims that it's his relationship with his children that made him “even more ambitious to be a better actor”.

Phil Davis
In Poldark.

Davis, who was born in 1953, the second of three boys, grew up in a working class family on a government assisted housing development in Essex. His father worked in a soap factory and his mother was a hospital cleaner. Although he was never academically gifted, Davis was reading before he started school and especially loved reading out loud. By the age of eight, he knew he wanted to be an actor and it became something of an obsession. As he told The Telegraph, "It was an extraordinary thing really to get into my head before I’d even seen a play. From a working class family like mine, it was a very eccentric, unrealistic ambition - like saying you wanted to be an astronaut or play football for England."

Sadly, Davis was bullied and mocked for holding such lofty ambitions. When he worked as a kitchen porter at a psychiatric hospital, for instance, he was scornfully nicknamed "Shakespeare", but the feisty teenager wasn’t deterred and by his mid-teens he won a place at the National Youth Theatre. From there he joined Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop, where he thrived.

Phil Davis
In Quadrophia.

Davis’s first paid acting job was in 1972, for which he got paid the grand sum of £20 (about $30 a week). His fortunes picked up a few years later when in 1978 he landed the role of Chalky in the cult film Quadrophia. Since then, Davis has tended to work more in film and television. Some of the 5’ 5” actor’s other notable films are The Bounty, co-starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Notes on a Scandal with Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy, and Vera Drake, starring Imelda Staunton.

Davis didn’t become an actor because he wanted to become rich and famous. As he told The Telegraph, “the fact that I was lucky enough to get paid for it [acting] was a bonus as far as I was concerned." Money is still not the deciding factor when Davis is deciding what role to take on and what to turn down. If he likes a script, he’ll work for virtually nothing. Which was exactly the case in the 2013 low-budget film Borrowed Time, where Davis played an irascible pensioner and as he confessed in an interview with Essex Life he “earned as much as the tea girl!”

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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