Avis was born in 1918, with the surname Scutt. Many people tried to persuade her to alter her name but it was Noel Coward who finally succeeded when he said “my dear, the name Scutt sounds like a great piece of rabbit!”.
She was a former actress and appeared in the theatre and in films including Waterfront (opposite Richard Burton) and To Have and to Hold (with Patrick Barr). When acting roles dried up she began waitressing and requested a test as an announcer.
In March 1954, after two studio tests, she became a BBC TV in-vision network announcer, replacing Noelle Middleton, and was immensely popular with viewers. Avis went into the TV studio as a relief announcer realising she would not be able to play in the Norman Wooland TV serial The Dancing Bear, but hopeful that appearances on screen would help jog the memory of decision-makers in the film and theatre industry about her talents. And it worked: her first spell in the announcer’s chair resulted in offers for two film parts. But a cruel twist of fate worked against her – her announcing success resulted in the BBC offering her a second term in the role – but the dates clashed with the film work offered to her. She had to decline the film offers.
However, her good looks and charm were to be her downfall, as in January 1955 she was sacked for being “too glamourous and sexy”. In an article in The Argus newspaper, dated Monday 17th January 1955, she is quoted as saying: “My personality is apparently too strong for their new policy”. In the same article, a BBC TV official said Avis was “too vivacious, too bubbly” for making announcements. “Viewers were so disturbed by her method of presentation that they lost the meaning of what she was saying.”
Avis lived in Hollywood from 1962 until the late-1990s, when she moved to Fort Collins in Colorado following the death of her husband, musician Jack Matthias. She worked in US television until her retirement in the early 1980s.
Avis died in 2010, aged 92.
In September 1992, Paul R. Jackson corresponded with Avis. She shared some information about her career:
“Yes, you are right – I am an actress. And was well-known as such in England. The announcing job I did was a fun sideline (1954 – 1955). Colleagues were Mary Malcolm, Sylvia Peters, Peter Haigh, Pauline Tooth and ‘MacHobley’ [McDonald Hobley]. Yes, I worked as an actress at Alexandra Palace in the early days. And before announcing, I did many leading parts for the BBC at Lime Grove. (The announcing was at Lime Grove also). I played a great deal on BBC Radio, also in leading and featured parts. I could bore you with a whole string of credits as an actress in the theatre, film and TV. But I’ll mention three:
- Juvenile lead with Noel Coward in his Present Laughter at the Haymarket Theatre, London;
- Leading part opposite Richard Burton in the film Waterfront.
- Starred in the film To Have and to Hold with Patrick Barr.
“I enclose a photo from those announcing days, with my best wishes.
“PS: you ask whether the announcing was in-vision. Yes it certainly was. During those early days of TV the announcing was really a hostess type of work – not only introducing each programme in-vision, but also improvising between frequent camera breakdowns and emergencies.”
Video Clips on the Internet
Here we present a selection of video clips featuring Avis which we found on social media sites or have made available from our own archive. The clips are presented here for additional reference. Inclusion of a video does not constitute an endorsement of the hosting site/channel/user. If you find any broken links below or are aware of an additional clip(s) which you believe may be a useful addition to this profile, please get in touch with us via our Contact page.
PICTURED: Avis Scott. SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: Unknown.