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Monty Python producer John Howard Davies dies

LONDON (Reuters) - John Howard Davies, a child actor and comedy producer best known for his lead role in David Lean's 1948 film "Oliver Twist," has died aged 72, his former employer the BBC said on Tuesday.

Davies died on Monday following a battle with cancer at his home in Oxfordshire, England, with his family at his side.

Davies found fame as a young actor, appearing in Oliver Twist before taking on another title role in "Tom Brown's Schooldays."

He left acting and held a number of jobs before joining the BBC as a production assistant in 1966.

His production credits included seminal British television comedy series "Fawlty Towers," "Steptoe and Son" and the early episodes of "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

Davies became head of comedy at the broadcaster in 1978, and helped to launch a string of beloved series including "Yes Minister," "Not the Nine O'Clock News" and "Only Fools and Horses."

Jon Plowman, a comedy producer and former head of comedy at the BBC, called Davies a "gentle, funny and delightful man.

"(He) was a very rare combination -- he was a comedy genius and a very nice man, who was much loved by his staff and will be much missed by all of us who try to make audiences laugh."

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison)

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