Veteran actor Oliver Ford Davies, aged 72, played the title role in the original production of Goodnight Mister Tom.

“I was born just weeks before the war broke out in 1939 and was living in London,” he recalls. “In 1941 it was decided that my mother, my brother and I would all go to live in Dorset. To begin with, we were staying in a pub run by a friend of my mother’s, but then a local farmer offered us the use of an abandoned cottage on his land. It was in the middle of nowhere, about a mile from the nearest road, and it had no gas, no electricity and no running water – we had to pull water up from a well and light a fire in the range. So we lived there until 1944 and I thought it was wonderful. It was an adventure for us, although I am not so sure about my mother. The farmer did actually offer her a rifle to use for her protection but she said ‘with two small boys in the house?’ She knew better. We came back to London in 1944 because we thought the war was won. But that was the time of the flying bombs or V bombs. I remember being about five and learning that I had to lie flat on the pavement if I heard the drone of the bombs. I remember that we had a shelter in our house which was a sort of steel construction about six foot by two foot which was in the living room and, as soon as we heard the sirens, we all had to get in there. I thought it was wonderful all snuggled up in there with everyone. My mother said I used to say that I hoped the sirens would go off so we could go into the shelter and then come out and have a cup of cocoa!”

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