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Toke Townley

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Toke Townley
Townley as Sam Pearson in Emmerdale Farm
John Antony Townley

(1912-11-06)6 November 1912
Died27 September 1984(1984-09-27) (aged 71)

John Antony Townley (6 November 1912 – 27 September 1984), known professionally as Toke Townley, was an English actor.[1]


Townley was born on 6 November 1912 in Great Dunmow, Essex (although some sources say The Rodings, another village nearby).[2] 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.[3] He appeared in many BBC television programmes during the early pioneering days at Alexandra Palace.[1]

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.[1][4]

He went on to appear in many film and television roles over the years, including The Avengers.[5] He was also an accomplished flautist and played the instrument on screen.[6]

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.[7] 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.[6][8]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ a b c "Toke Townley". BFI.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Toke Townley | Theatricalia".
  4. ^ "Toke Townley | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  5. ^ "Toke Townley".
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ "Emmerdale is 45 today... and look who's back in the Woolpack".
  8. ^
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Toke Townley
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