David Swift was an English actor.

Early life

He was born in Liverpool, and educated at Clifton College and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he studied law. He then embarked on a career as a businessman with his father-in-law, J.P. Jacobs, whose company supplied all the elastic to Marks & Spencer.


Swift made his television debut in 1961. In 1979 he appeared as Dingley alongside Richard Beckinsale in the BBC situation comedy Bloomers and also appeared in several episodes of Going Straight. Prior to this he'd made a guest appearance again with Beckinsale in the ITV comedy Rising Damp in which he played a suicidal tenant in the episode "Good Samaritans."

It was the role of irascible newsreader Henry Davenport in the topical comedy Drop the Dead Donkey, written by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, for which Swift became best known. He has also made occasional appearances as God in the Radio 4 comedy Old Harry's Game, also written by Hamilton.

Personal life

Swift was the brother of another actor, Clive Swift of Keeping Up Appearances fame, with whom he has sometimes performed, and therefore the uncle of the academic Adam Swift and the television personality Joe Swift and Rebecca. He is also the father of actress Julia Swift and father-in-law of actor David Bamber.

Selected filmography


  • Travels with My Aunt (1972)
  • The Day of the Jackal (1973)
  • No Sex Please, We're British (1973)
  • Who Killed Lamb? (1974, TV film)
  • The Internecine Project (1974)
  • The Assignment (1977)
  • The Black Panther (1977)
  • We Think the World of You (1988)
  • Jack the Ripper (1988)
  • Jack & Sarah (1995)


  • War and Peace BBC (1972) Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Bloomers (1979) Dingley
  • Turtle's Progress ATV 1980 Superintendent Rafferty (Series 2 only)
  • Private Schulz (1980) Professor Bodelschwingh
  • Day of the Triffids (1981) Beadley
  • Bergerac (1987) Dr. Barnard
  • Drop the Dead Donkey (1990–98) Henry Davenport


  1. Merseyside did not exist before 1 April 1974


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