Dad’s Army actor Bill Pertwee dies aged 86

Versatile staple of British comedy who thought ‘I’m not really a proper actor’

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The Independent Online

The Dad’s Army actor Bill Pertwee has died aged 86, leaving only three survivors from the central cast of the classic wartime comedy.

The actor, who had been ill over Christmas, passed away peacefully with his family around him at his home in Cornwall today, his agent said. “He was a really, really nice man. Very bright, very intelligent,” Meg Poole added. “He came from a big theatrical family, and like all of them it was his life. He was a hugely professional, very clever man.”

Throughout the Seventies, Pertwee became a staple of British comedy culture, appearing in Love Thy Neighbour, The Dick Emery Show, Man About the House, and three Carry On films in as many years.

He also wrote three books, including an autobiography entitled A Funny Way to Make a Living, and in 2007 was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to charity.

But it is as the argumentative air raid warden Hodges, that the comedy actor will be most fondly remembered. Pertwee appeared in sixty episodes of the BBC’s Dad’s Army from 1968 to 1977, regularly coming to blows with Captain Mainwaring and barking: “Put that light out!”

His son, Jonathan, led the tributes: “He would give everything a go. He was very dedicated to the people around him and to his charity work. But also he was very humble about the whole thing.

“He’d say ‘marvellous, isn’t it, to be in this business, because I’m not really a proper actor’, but he was extraordinarily versatile.”

Reflecting on the impact the long-running series had on his father, Mr Pertwee said: “He loved [Dad’s Army]. He loved the people in it, it was a big part of his life and he used to have a lot of fun with Clive [Dunn] and John Le Mesurier and Frank Williams and all of them. They just had a great bond.”

His death leaves only Ian Lavender, who played the dim-witted coward Private Pike, Pamela Cundell, who is better known as Corporal Jones’ love interest Mrs Fox, and Frank Williams, the show’s vicar.

John Laurie, who played Private Frazer, died aged 83 in 1980. Arthur Lowe, otherwise known as Captain Mainwaring, passed away two years later aged 66. John Le Mesurier died one year after that, in 1983, when he was 71.

Theprogramme, however, maintains an extraordinary popularity. Ms Poole said: “Anybody who was on Dad’s Army was very well known. [It has] never been off the television, they have been repeated endlessly by the BBC, they’re repeated endlessly on digital channels and people watch it and it’s still getting incredibly good ratings.”