Mervyn Johns was born in Pembroke, Wales on 18th February, 1899 and initially trained to become dentist however he met Australian concert pianist Alys Steele who he married in 1920 and who encouraged him in his ambitions to become an actor. The two had a daughter, Glynis, who later became a famous actress (appearing memorably in Walt Disney's 1964 production of Mary Poppins).
Mervyyn's big break came in the Second World War when, too old to be conscripted, he was able to steal the lead in a number of wartime film productions, most notably Halfway House and Dead of Night however he continued to be a major figure after the war, particularly as Bob Crachit in the 1951 film Scrooge starring Alastair Sim in the title role of one of Charles Dickens' most memorable creations.
Although he had made his television debut in a live 1938 production of Pride and Prejudice for the BBC in their studios in Alexandra Palace, it was twenty years before he returned to the small screen, appearing in popular programmes such as The Saint, Dangerman, Dixon of Dock Green and The Avengers. In 1965 he appeared in The Pensioner, a first season episode of the Coronation Street spin-off Pardon the Expression as bible-quoting but gently troublesome Jacob Elijah Burgess, a character who appeared in the second season episode The Gaolbirds.
Johns continued to act in films, appearing in a total of seventy in his career, and made his final television appearance in 1979 in the BBC's Shoestring series. He had a long retirement in the company of his second wife, actress Diana Churchill, and died on 6th September, 1992.