William Leo Franklyn was a English performer, possibly best recognized for voicing the "Schhh... You Know Who" adverts for Schweppes tonic water from 1965 to 1973.
Working also on stage, film, television and radio, he took over from Peter Jones as "The Book" (or the narrator) in the third, fourth and fifth radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
William was born in Kensington into a theatrical family: his grandfather, Arthur Rigby, Senior and uncle, Arthur Rigby, Junior, mother, Mary Rigby, and his father, Leo Franklyn, were all performers. As a baby he was taken to Australia, where his father performed in musical comedies travelling around the country.
The young Franklyn was educated at Wesley and Haileybury Colleges, both in Melbourne, and he cultivated an enduring affection for cricket. Later on he would be trialled as a fast bowler for Essex, and bowled for the Stage Cricket Club. He also turn out to be a leg spinner, and organised his own squad, named the the Sargentmen, which raised funds for the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children.
He returned to London, aged 11 and on the outbreak of the Second World War was evacuated to Luscombe Castle in Devon.
His theatre career started when he was 18, he performed in’ My Sister Eileen’ at the Savoy Theatre in 1943. He soon received his call up papers and served with the Parachute Regiment, and was sent to Palestine.
After the war had finished he returned to the stage in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ at Southend Pier in 1946, and he then decided an acting career was for him. For the next six years he toured in that play, but during quiet periods he worked as a second hand trader, taking scrap away on a barrow from wealthy areas of London and selling it as antiques.
He spent the rest of his career performing in the theatre , on television and radio, and in numerous movies. In the 1950’s he appeared in several films, including Quatermass 2 in 1957, and took the main role in the 1961 picture, ‘Pit of Darkness’ which was the B-feature shown with Adam Faith's comedy feature called ‘What A Whopper’.
He also featured in the 1965 Morecambe and Wise comedy movie ‘The Intelligence Men’.
In London's West End he appeared in comedies such as ‘There's A Girl In My Soup’ and ‘Tunnel of Love’.
After taking lessons in Italian, he directed a version of ‘There's A Girl In My Soup’ in Italy, with Italian actors, performed in Italian.
On the small screen, he became a regular panellist on game shows like ‘What's My Line?’ and ‘Call My Bluff’. He played Jacques Fleury in The ATV series ‘TheAdventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel ‘(1955–56) and playing the character of Peter Dallas in all 26 episodes of the Associated-Rediffusion
spy drama series Top Secret (1961–62), as well appearing in a number of episodes of cult classic The Avengers.
In 1978 he was the subject on’ This Is Your Life’.
Later on performing in Thames Televisions 1984 comedy television series ‘The Steam Video Company’, and in 1991, Alan Bleasdale's comedy drama G.B.H on Channel 4.
In 1993 he worked on the biopic ‘Diana: Her True Story’.
He was best known for the long running commercial voice-over work on those "Schhh... You Know Who" Schweppes advertisements. These were created by advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather and between 1965 to 1973 he appeared on screen in 10 commercials and voiced another 40.
The never transmitted pilot of Danger Mouse was voiced by him. though David Jason replaced him in all future episodes
For 11 years on radio, he was the reader of the quotes on BBC Radio 4's Quote Unquote, and also read for The News Quiz. In 2004 and 2005, he took over the role of "The Book" (the narrator) from Peter Jones, for the third, fourth and fifth radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.