'Dad's Army' pays tribute to Capt Mainwaring's coolness under fire

'WILSON, WILSON, WILSON,' would bellow Captain Mainwaring, aka Arthur Lowe, in just another vain attempt to bring some order to the ranks. Not quite, as Bill Pertwee, warden in Dad's Army and Mainwaring's bete noire, revealed yesterday as he joined other members of the cast to unveil plaques to the memory of Mr Lowe, and Sergeant Wilson's alter ego, John Le Mesurier.

When the bank-manager- turned-captain of the Home Guard bawled out his rather wry subordinate as the two sat in Mainwaring's office in the church hall, he was merely playing for time.

'One of the things Arthur was able to do was to go through nearly 80 episodes not learning a lot of lines,' said Mr Pertwee, amid much hilarity from the likes of Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones) and Ian Lavender (Private Pike) as they stood - not quite to attention - outside their former commanding officer's house in Little Venice, west London. 'He used to pull open his drawer every now and again, and the reason he used to say Wilson, Wilson, Wilson, or Jones, Jones, Jones, was that while he was pulling out the drawer, he was looking at a few words. He could fill a whole scene up like this, and he did it brilliantly well.'

Not everyone was impressed, however. The show's director, David Croft, once took him aside and said: 'Listen Arthur, you're learning your lines in our time, it would be a good idea if you perhaps learnt them overnight.' Ignoring this, Lowe informed him that his boat was going very well, and that he really should come down for a drink.

Exasperated, Mr Croft told him that he intended to give him four copies of his script each night: 'One to leave here, one to leave on the bus, one to leave on the underground, and one to take home.' To which Mr Lowe replied: 'Oh, I wouldn't have that rubbish in my house.'

At the ceremony outside Mr Le Mesurier's house in Barons Court, west London, Clive Dunn recalled Sgt Wilson's off-screen humour. Engaging a policeman in conversation at a New Year's Eve gathering in Trafalgar Square, he asked for directions to Alcoholics Anonymous. Policeman: 'Are you going to join, sir?' Le Mesurier: 'Certainly not, I want to resign.'

(Photograph omitted)

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