Daphne was born in Lancashire in the spring of 1937, the daughter of a British Army officer. Having a Scottish mother, she was brought up at Kitford on the Solway Firth near her grandparents.
It was in Kirkcurbrightshire that she developed a Lowland Scots accent, although this vanished when her parents moved south after WWII so that she could attend Bedford High School.
Daphne took a secretarial course and used her Spanish working in London at the Hispanic Council but she had a burning ambition to act.
Her clear voice won her the highest marks for elocution in the UK and enabled her to get into R.A.D.A. She was in the same year as the playwright Hugh Whitemore, Susannah York and Billy Butlin’s daughter, Cherry. She was introduced to Martin Neville while on holiday in Italy in 1957.
Daphne was married in Bedford on her twenty-first birthday, taking her LRAM exams the same year.
Since Martin was working for BIP in Oldham, they moved to Worcestershire. Here they took up archery, bred donkeys and converted an old bakery into a cottage where their first baby was born.
Before long there were three little girls. Another was adopted in 1976.
In 1965, the Nevilles moved to Bakers Mill, below Frampton Mansell in Gloucestershire, where Daphne still lives today.
After a few years, Daphne was given the part of Eleanor of Aquitaine in a production of The Lion in Winter, which won her an award and prompted her to apply to work in television.
In May 1968 Daphne became an in-vision announcer and newscaster when Harlech Television was launched. The ITV station for Wales and the West Country was later known as HTV.
Daphne presented her own daily children’s programme called It’s Time for Me when she was lowered from the studio ceiling in an oval basket chair.
She also made numerous public appearances on behalf of Harlech Television, opening fetes and manning their stand at the Bath and West Show where she was seen as a local celebrity.
She moved to HTV Bristol where she presented an afternoon programme called Women Only with Jan Leeming for seven years. She interviewed Michael Bond about his new Paddington books and Clement Freud, who had a hit with his children’s book Grimble. She also presented ATV’s Women Today and occasional one-off programmes.
In the summer of 1973, Daphne took time out to work on the crew of Richard Pilbrow’s movie Swallows & Amazons . This was because her eldest daughter, Sophie, was given the starring role of Titty. Daphne was the official chaperone for the cast of six children.
You can read about her adventures in both The Making of Swallows and Amazons or the ebook The Secrets of filming Swallows and Amazons
The cine footage she took of life behind-the-scenes has been featured by StudioCanal in their Extras package for the Swallows and Amazons 40th Anniversary Specail Edition DVD. Back in 1974, the premiere was held at the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue where, to her amusement, she noticed The Exorcist was also showing.
At the same time as presenting Women Only, Daphne started working on for Radio Bristol on such programmes as Any Answers, produced by Carole Stone, and a sports programme called Come Alive.
Having gained skills in timing the spoken word accurately, she would often be asked to record advertisements. She appeared in a number of distinctive television commercials including one for Persil automatic powder when viewers saw her face going round and round as from inside a washing machine; the washing’s POV.
Daphne then started working as a freelance radio and television reporter, based in the west country.
In 1976, Daphne gained a long-running role playing Nora the barmaid in the BBC Radio soap opera The Archers made at BBC Birmingham.
At Christmas time that year she appeared on stage at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham as Miss Pepper in David Wood’s musical The Gingerbread Man.
More acting roles came along. Her favorite was playing Mother in The Pheonix and the Carpet, a period children’s drama serial, directed for BBC TV by Dorothea Brooking. Gary Russell appeared in it as her son, Cyril, while her eldest daughter was played by her daughter Tamzin.
In the early 1980s Daphne enjoyed working for Border Television so much that the Nevilles nearly moved to the Lake District.
Instead she went into otter conservation, travelling across England and Wales to give talks on ecology and pure water.
She combined this with her work in television, both on documentaries and on dramas.
To see photos of her acting roles in film and television please click here or on the menu above.
To read about Daphne’s adventures acting in television please click here.
To see photos of Daphne in various television dramas please click here.
To see photos of Daphne in her more conventional roles in movies please click here.
For Daphne’s maddest roles in movies please click here
Daphne Neville in 2022 – photo Ross H Campbell
To see photos of Daphne in various medical dramas please click here
To read about Daphne on German television please click here
For photos of Daphne in advertisments and tv commercials please click here.
27 responses to “Biography”
Wow , feel very special to know you x
Ahh, thank you. Have you managed to get any of my books? You can order them from your local library.
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Sophie – Just finished ‘Funnily Enough’ and quickly wanted to thank you again for such a good read…. I hugely admire you for your honesty, patience and unrelenting trust: what an inspiration you are! And, as I launch my own ‘Don’t Sweat’ reading group for grandmothers, now your mum’s Granny’s Guide is a must-watch… will email later!
So glad you enjoyed it. Hope your book club might like it!
For more on Mum see: http://funnily-enough.blogspot.co.uk/
Did you managed to see Episode 3 of ‘A Granny’s Guide’? I am in fear and trembling as to what she got up to next.
Sophie, I used to know Daphne and Martin from when I worked for an agent – OSCAR (Tony) I wonder if they remember me – I probably last saw Daphne when I did a Casualty and she was paying a psychic I believe! Loved hearing all their stories about the otters, their travels and lodgers, lol – please say hello from Elaine! I was just reminded of them because of a video someone shared on Facebook, of ‘grannies’ trying cannabis – excellent! 😀 x
Lovely to hear from you! Did you see Rudi the otter on BBC 2’s ‘Natural World’ last night? They were illustrating how otters smell under water. He also appeared in ‘The Durrells’ – as both the otter Gerry caught, and his mate. Daphne is still working hard. You can read about her early exploits in ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’, which has just been re-published by The Lutterworth Press. See if your libray can order you a copy. If you like reading ebooks on Kindle it can be found under the title: ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows & Amazons’ (£2.99) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secrets-Filming-Swallows-Amazons-ebook/dp/B00GNFYZJS/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Thanks Sophie – I will look up the Natural World programme on iPlayer, and the others! Will also order the book. Daphne was so kind to my daughter (Naomi) also who was being terribly bullied at the time, at school, so I was extra grateful for her kindness 🙂 How is Martin too? All well I hope 🙂 xxx Loved all her stories – she’s such a treasure 🙂 x
Let me know how you get on with the book!
*saw not you! Ops, sorry x
Hi ! I always look forward to seeing Daphne and Rudi at the Royal Welsh. I can’t find her in her usual haunt, I do hope she and Rudi are well?
Thanks so much for writing in Nigel. Daphne and Rudi are both well. Did you see Rudi appearing on ITV in ‘The Durrells’ or on BBC2 in the Natural World series entitled ‘Supercharged Otters’? You can see photos and read a bit more about this here: http://funnily-enough.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/rudi-otter-appearing-on-bbc-tv-natural.html
Saw Daphne on come dine with me, She was such a lovely cute lady, I had to look her up..wow she has had a amazing life..and loved her otter
Thanks for writing in, Michelle. You can read about Daphne’s life working on a film in the 1970’s in ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’. You can see the first section for free in the ebook, which has a slightly different title:
loved seeing daphne on come dine with me took me right back…worked for your dad at critchleys as pa 1st then as advertising manager and a product manager. Kid sat you girls a few times. Once driving on of you back to boarding school. Even helped daphne with a charity fashion show. Brilliant job working with you dad and knowing them both. Loved the otter in the house..as I say fond memories would have been back in 1974/76 before we moved to w sussex Alison Munn
Lovely to hear from you, Alison. We sadly lost Martin in 2015 – he reached the age of 86. Do give Daphne a ring or drop in and see her. She’s on: 01285760234
I used to go to school with Tamzin
We were really good friends, I’d just like to know if she is OK? If she is OK I’d like you to pass on my email please
Yes, she’s fine! I’ll send her your email.
I’ve just ordered a copy of your Otter children’s book for my grandchildren (Mina and Jude), and am so looking forward to reading it to them! I shall be boasting that I know the author 🤗💕🙏
I don’t know if you remember me from OSCA days and filming on all sorts – you were so kind to my daughter Naomi (you gave her a poster and photos for her talk at school: she was being bullied at the time and your kindness meant an immense amount) .
Think of you and Martin and those halcyon days frequently 🤗Hope you are well 🙏
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I do hope you and the children enjoy ‘Bee a particular otter’. We still have Rudi the otter with us. You are welcome to come and see him.
Sophie – for Daphne
Back in 1980 or 81, when working for IPC Magazines, I visited Daphne and Bee at Bakers Mill to do a photo shoot and spent much of that day entranced by Bee. Daphne was kind enough to take a photograph of me with Bee which remains a much-treasured memory of a magical day. After a gap of 50 years, I have recently renewed contact with an old friend now living in Canada, and I am providing her with written details of my life since our time together. One of the high lights from that time was my visit to Bakers Mill together with the photo that emerged from it. The text details how, wonderful that day was, and I would dearly love to send Daphne a copy of both text and photo if you consider that to be appropriate. Please advise if the contact details for Daphne remain as shown on this web page
Yes, Daphne is still at Bakers Mill and still has one tame otter. I’m sure she’d love to her from you.
Many thanks Sophie, that really is good news, I will get the story and photograph sent on to her “dreckly” (as they say in Cornwall, where I now live) Best wishes Mike
She’d love that. I’m trying to encourage her to write another book. ‘Bee a Particular Otter’ is still selling on Amazon.
We bought the book last year and my grandchildren (and children, in fact) loved it 🤗💖🙏
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So glad to hear you enjoy Daphne’s book. It might prove an investment. Do think of leaving a short review on her Amazon page here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bee-Particular-Otter-Daphne-Neville/dp/0907537014