Townley as Sam Pearson in Emmerdale Farm
John Antony Townley
6 November 1912
|Died||27 September 1984 (aged 71)|
Townley was born on 6 November 1912 in Great Dunmow, Essex (although some sources say The Rodings, another village nearby). His father was a vicar and he was christened John Townley, but his first name was then changed by his parents to the surname of an ancestor. After he left school he worked as a clerk in industry, acting in his spare time. He did not become a professional actor until his early 30s, first appearing at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. He appeared in many BBC television programmes during the early pioneering days at Alexandra Palace.
Between 1951 and 1970, in the heyday of the British studios, Townley appeared in almost thirty films, including Lady Godiva Rides Again, Doctor at Sea, The Quatermass Xperiment, The Admirable Crichton, Carry on Admiral, Doctor in Distress and Scars of Dracula.
Many of his roles were country bumpkins, so it was an appropriate move when Townley joined Emmerdale (known from 1972 until 1989 as Emmerdale Farm) as Annie Sugden's father, Sam Pearson, complete with cloth cap and collarless shirt, when the serial began in 1972. He appeared in over 800 episodes of Emmerdale Farm. Loved and admired by the rest of the cast of the rural soap opera, Townley was said to be a private person, living alone at a Leeds hotel, near where the programme was filmed. He died of a heart attack whilst still in the soap so his character was killed off.
- Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951) - Lucille's husband
- Treasure Hunt (1952) - William Burke
- Time Gentlemen, Please! (1952) - Potman
- Meet Me Tonight (1952) - Stage Manager - Red Peppers
- My Wife's Lodger (1952) - Soldier
- Cosh Boy (1953) - Mr. 'Smith' (uncredited)
- Turn the Key Softly (1953) - Prison Guard (uncredited)
- The Broken Horseshoe (1953) - Fred Barker, Hall Porter
- Innocents in Paris (1953) - Airport Porter (uncredited)
- Meet Mr. Lucifer (1953) - Trumpet Player
- The Million Pound Note (1954) - Revivalist (uncredited)
- Fast and Loose (1954) - Alfred
- The Runaway Bus (1954) - Henry Waterman
- Bang! You're Dead (1954) - Jimmy Knuckle
- The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954) - Father David
- Doctor at Sea (1955) - Jenkins
- John and Julie (1955) - Booking Clerk
- The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) - The Chemist (uncredited)
- The Blue Peter (1955) - Pub Barman (uncredited)
- Now and Forever (1956) - Garage Hand (uncredited)
- Three Men in a Boat (1956) - Meek Man (Maze)
- Carry on Admiral (1957) - Steward
- The Admirable Crichton (1957) - Lovegrove
- Barnacle Bill (1957) - Timmins
- Innocent Sinners (1958) - Bates (uncredited)
- Law and Disorder (1958) - Sidney Rumpthorne
- A Cry from the Streets (1958) - Mr. Daniels
- Look Back in Anger (1959) - Spectacled Man
- Libel (1959) - Associate
- The World of Suzie Wong (1960) - Waiter (uncredited)
- The Missing Note (1961) - Mr. Parker
- The Avengers (1961) (TV)
- H.M.S. Defiant (1962) - Silly Billy
- The Fast Lady (1962) - Angry Motorist
- Doctor in Distress (1963) - Clerk of Works (uncredited)
- The Chalk Garden (1963) - Shop Clerk
- Scars of Dracula (1970) - Elderly Waggoner
- "Toke Townley". BFI.
- "Toke Townley | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
- "Toke Townley | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
- "Toke Townley". www.aveleyman.com.
- "Emmerdale is 45 today... and look who's back in the Woolpack". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk.