Captain 'Beardy' Birdseye DFC (Distinguished Frying Cross)


War Hero
Book Reviewer
RIP, Sir... :cry:

The actor John Hewer won worldwide fame playing Captain Birdseye in the long-running fish finger TV commercials.

He played the role from 1967 until the late 1980s. The jovial, bearded naval captain outlasted the Milky Bar Kid and Ronald MacDonald to become the longest running "brand personality" since food advertising began.

A poll in 1983 named Captain Birdseye as the most recognised captain in the world after Captain Cook and the character was often the butt of comedians. The Goodies parodied the adverts as "Captain Fishface" and spoofs of the commercials featuring "Captain Fishy, the man with the fishy fingers" were featured by DJ Steve Wright on BBC Radio 1.

In 1971 Birdseye decided to drop Captain Birdseye, inserting a notice in The Times to mark the departure of the man known for "his selfless devotion to the nutritional needs of the nation's children." The same paper carried the notice heralding his return when the company sought to boost sales in the wake of the Cod Wars by reinstating him three years later.

After Hewer was dropped from the commercials he was replaced by a younger actor and Captain Birdseye was seen as a dark-haired man with designer stubble, the advertisers believing that the older white-bearded man would not have the same appeal to children. This version did not last long, however, and the better-known older version soon returned, although not played by Hewer.

Leyton-born Hewer also had an equally successful stage and screen career. He appeared in the original Broadway production of Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend, opposite Julie Andrews, and he was in the London production of the Noel Coward musical Sail Away, with Elaine Stritch.

For many years he was a stalwart of the Players Theatre in London and he also went into management presenting music hall shows on Southend Pier in association with the bandleader Henry Hall.

His many TV credits included The Great Detective and the mini-series Nicholas Nickleby.

He died in Brinsworth House, the actors' retirement home in Middlesex. His wife predeceased him.

John Hewer, actor, was born on January 13, 1922. He died on March 16, 2008, aged 84.
Re: R.I.P.

"...until the Second World War, in which he served as a navigator in the Fleet Air Arm."

May the old sailor rest in peace. (Even if he was probably an observor not a navigator!)

Similar threads