Dickie Davies was a trailblazer who ITV on the sporting map
By Jonathan McEvoy for the Daily Mail
22:32 February 19, 2023, updated 23:12 February 19, 2023
- Dickie Davies’ death at the age of 94 was announced by Jim Rosenthal on Sunday
- Davies was a huge icon for ITV Sport’s coverage with the World of Sport Show
- The presenter helped write the grammar of broadcasting throughout his long career
Dickie Davies, with that famous white blade through his mane like Shergar, was the face of ITV sport in a time before the industry diversified into the landscape we know today.
He died on Sunday at the age of 94. His death was announced by another veteran of those ITV years, the highly respected Jim Rosenthal, then a junior of the front-of-house star.
Speaking on behalf of the Davies family, Rosenthal said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dickie Davies this morning.
“So proud of his 20 years of World Of Sport, three Olympics and a brilliant television career. He is survived by a loving wife, two loving sons, four grandchildren and two loving dogs.’
It takes many of us back to the days when World Of Sport was an integral part of our sports education, albeit at a time when the BBC owned and treasured most of the crown jewels. As recalled, ITV’s production has been heavily focused on Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, but that was part of its enduring charm rather than the limit of its scope.
Born in 1928, Davies came to broadcasting late, including after a stint as purser on the RMS Queen Mary, the most opulent ocean liner of her day. “Dying to get home” he happened to meet a manager of the American broadcaster NBC. After an audition, he was invited to a trial at Southern Television in 1960.
These were the pioneering days of the small screen, the days of Whicker and Coleman, the kind of men who wrote the grammar of broadcasting with Davies.
In his new television job, he met a vision mixer named Liz, who became his wife when he took on the £19-a-week announcer role. Of his career, he told the Telegraph: “I loved it. I’m a happy boy.”
It was Jimmy Hill who gave him the clever idea of calling himself “Dickie,” a more distinctive nickname than Richard’s preferred for his wife. Jimmy got that right.
Of course he interviewed Muhammad Ali. He covered many of the big fights unflinchingly, his trimmed mustache and puffy trademark trademark. His hairstyle is natural, he insisted, no matter what anyone thought. His fame led to appearances on The Morecambe & Wise Show, the great days of terrestrial television, and This is Your Life.
Covering the heydays of Coe and Ovett, he was somewhat dismissive of the wrestling shows during the life of World Of Sport between 1968 and 1985, a rival to Grandstand on Channel Three.
In particular, he reported on the 1966 World Cup and the 1972 Munich Olympics, made famous by Black September. Also snooker, golf, darts, bowling, tennis and racing.
Of Sir Alf Ramsey he said: “Impossible to interview – he hated the media.”
He then worked for Eurosport, Sky Sports Gold with Sir Bobby Charlton and Classic FM.
When asked about his secret to success, he replied, “Homework,” adding, “I’ve had great times.”