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William Davis (journalist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Davis
Gunther Keese[1]

(1933-03-06)6 March 1933
Hanover, Germany
Died2 February 2019(2019-02-02) (aged 85)
Cannes, France
NationalityGerman / British
Occupationjournalist, economist, radio and television presenter
Children3 (1 deceased)

William Davis (born Gunther Keese; 6 March 1933 – 2 February 2019), was a journalist, broadcaster and editor. He was born in Germany but came to Britain in his teens, working for the Financial Times, Evening Standard and Guardian. He broadcast for the BBC and was a pioneering presenter of The Money Programme and The World at One. He became editor of Punch and was the founder of the British Airways in-flight magazine High Life. He became chairman of the British Tourist Authority and English Tourist Board in the 1990s and remained an active commentator, broadcaster and writer until his death in February 2019.

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Early life

Davis was born Gunther Kiess in Hanover, Germany, in 1933.[1] During an appearance on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs programme later in life, he described his childhood growing up in Germany during World War II as "very grim". Davis came to Britain aged 16, adopted British citizenship and anglicised his name. By the age of 18, he was already a journalist and specialised in commentary about economic and financial affairs.


During 1954–1959, William Davis was on the staff of the Financial Times, a British international business newspaper. Lord Beaverbrook appointed Davis the City Editor (1960–1965) of the London Evening Standard and he then went on to become Economics Editor (1965–1968) of The Guardian.[2]

During this time Davis made regular appearances on the BBC's live Budget programmes presented by Ian Trethowan.[3] Davis provided live comment and analysis of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget speech as it was delivered in the House of Commons. There were no microphones or cameras in Parliament at the time, so details were relayed to the BBC studio via a teleprinter.

Davis presented BBC North's financial programme Prospect. He took the idea of popular financial journalism to Grace Wyndham Goldie and developed the idea into The Money Programme for BBC2, which he also presented. Davis was one of the first presenters of the Radio 4 programme The World at One, a role he shared with William Hardcastle.

In 1968 William Davis was elected editor of the satirical magazine Punch and the rival publication Private Eye dubbed him "Kaiser Bill".

Davis was a Chairman and a Director of several publishing and travel companies. He founded and was Editor-in-Chief of, the in-flight magazine High Life.[citation needed] In the early 1990s William Davis became chairman of the British Tourist Authority and English Tourist Board.[citation needed]

Davis appeared as a contributor on The Pound in Your Pocket, a retrospective series of archive programmes shown on BBC Parliament in 2007. The programme marked forty years since the devaluation of the Pound by the British government on 18 November 1967, a subject covered by Davis in his book Three Years' Hard Labour: The Road to Devaluation.


Davis died at his home in Cannes, southern France, on 2 February 2019, after suffering heart failure.[4][5]


The following are books written by William Davis:

  • Three Years' Hard Labour: The Road to Devaluation, 1968
  • Merger Mania, 1970
  • The Language of Money, 1973
  • Have Expenses, Will Travel, 1975
  • It's No Sin to be Rich, 1976
  • The Best of Everything (editor), 1981
  • The Rich, 1982
  • Corporate Infighter's Handbook, 1984
  • Fantasy: A Practical Guide to Escapism, 1984
  • The Innovators, 1987
  • Children of the Rich, 1989
  • The Lucky Generation, 1995
  • The Great Myths of Business, 1997
  • The Rich: A New Study of the Species, 2006
  • Caviar Dogs, 2008
  • The Luck Factor, 2010
  • The Alien, An Autobiography, 2014
  • Lend Me Your Ears, 2016
  • Wit and Humour Series (editor), 2016
  • We Must Do Lunch, 2017


  1. ^ a b Jedidajah Otte (3 February 2019), "Former Guardian and BBC journalist William Davis dies aged 85", The Observer
  2. ^ Who's Who entry
  3. ^ "The programmes in detail". BBC Parliament. 9 November 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Former BBC journalist William Davis dies". BBC News. 3 February 2019.
  5. ^ Bates, Stephen (11 February 2019). "William Davis obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
This page was last edited on 4 August 2019, at 16:46
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