The ranks of Walmington-on-Sea's Home Guard platoon have been further depleted by the loss of another old warrior, with the death of Clive Dunn.
The Dad's Army star died earlier this week at his home in Portugal, where he lived for 20 years, from complications stemming from an operation. His agent, Peter Charlesworth, said: "He will be a real loss to the acting profession."
The 92-year-old actor, who specialised in playing elderly men even at the beginning of his long career, was best known as Corporal Jack Jones – a bumbling Boer War veteran whose recollections of long-ago skirmishes with fearsome "fuzzy wuzzies" were guaranteed to incur the ire of his commanding officer, Captain Mainwaring.
Although Dunn played one of the oldest characters in the classic sitcom, originally broadcast between 1968 and 1977, he outlived nearly all of his co-stars, who included Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier. Such was the popularity of "Jonesey" the butcher that his catchphrase "Don't panic!" – normally accompanied by him jumping up and down and pointing his rifle in a state of extreme agitation – has passed into the national lexicon.
Dunn, who was also a successful stage singer, secured one of Britain's biggest novelty pop hits with "Grandad", a sentimental tune written by bassist Herbie Flowers. It gave Dunn a No 1 hit in 1971 and spawned a successful children's comedy series.
The actor's fledgling film career was interrupted by military service in the Second World War, when he served with the 4th Queen's Own Hussars, spending four years in prisoner-of-war and labour camps in Austria. He once described his Dad's Army success as payback for his time incarcerated. Returning to civilian life, Dunn employed his comic talents alongside Tony Hancock before securing the role with which he would forever be associated.
Ian Lavender, who played Private Pike in the show, said Dunn was a good friend. He said: "Out of all of us he had the most time for the fans. Everyone at one time or another would be tempted to duck into a doorway or bury their head in a paper but not Clive, he always made time for fans. He wanted everyone to have a nice time."