Private Pike joins the 30th birthday party for Dad's Army while preparing for two new theatre productions
MONDAY: I started looking for somewhere to live in Worcester, where I'm playing George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Swan, and in Cambridge, where I'm directing Aladdin and playing Widow Twanky. I usually go on recommendations [for places to stay], but often people expect me to turn up in uniform. They get their grandchildren round, who, of course, don't know who I am. There's no two ways about it, Frank Pike does help in opening doors. People suggest it's a millstone - I started playing him when I was 22 - and I've certainly been typecast, but nobody expects you to come up with that character. People don't want Frank Pike but they do expect me to be funny. It's wonderful that people hold Dad's Army in such great affection, but I can't recite the lines like some people can.

TUESDAY: I'm a member of the Cricketers' Club of London, and every month we have a lunch, so I tend to host it and make a little speech. One of my great heroes is the cricketer David Steele, and it's good to mix with your gods, so we invited him. He was a great folk hero in the 1970s because he used to stave off the West Indian fast bowlers. I could also immediately identify with him because his hair went white at 35, and was described at the time as looking like something out of Dad's Army. I went white even earlier than that. He was very funny, very dry and we drank a lot of red wine, and that was the day gone.

WEDNESDAY: Up to Cambridge for a production meeting for Aladdin. I do like having control in pantomime because I have strong feelings about it. I get upset when people say: "It's only pantomime." I don't like actors just coming on and doing acts. It sounds po-faced, but it's most people's first time in a theatre, and it's one of the few times a whole family goes together. It's a great mix, but a hard slog. Directing a pantomime is different from a play, which is man-management. As a pantomime actor, I try and stick to what Arthur Askey told me years ago: "One day you'll do the dame." And I said: "I hope so." He said: "Always remember they must see the trousers." Wearing a dress is great fun. I don't know why ladies want to wear trousers. I also like the variety of pantomime; it's my one chance as an actor to cross the line.

THURSDAY: Went to hospital for a blood test. I've had a couple of thromboses and once you've had two, you're on rat poison for the rest of your life. I had one 10 years ago, then I was treated for cancer four years ago and had a post-operative one. But I don't mind needles going in my arms. The rest of the day was spent talking to journalists about the Dad's Army anniversary. I really don't mind; I don't know many actors who don't like talking about themselves.

FRIDAY: I met Dad's Army's creators Jimmy Perry and David Croft at the Imperial War Museum, and actors Clive Dunn [Corporal Jones] and Bill Pertwee [ARP warden Bill Hodges] to launch a first-day stamp cover. I had no idea that the original show would be so successful. When I started it was just eight weeks' work. It was tremendous fun, going out to the country to film. I was so green, I didn't even know we weren't coming home that night. I had to nip home quickly and pack a bag; I'd never stayed in a hotel before. There was something in every one of us which echoed our characters - there was a pompous side to Arthur Lowe but he sent himself up, and there was a vague side to John Le Mesurier, but there was nobody sharper.

Interview by Rachelle Thackray

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