Ian Lavender

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Ian Lavender
Ian Lavender.png
Ian Lavender in Hayfield, Derbyshire, to unveil a plaque to Arthur Lowe in 2011.
Born Arthur Ian Lavender
(1946-02-16) 16 February 1946 (age 68)
Birmingham, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1967–present
Spouse(s) Suzanne Kerchiss (1967–76) (divorced)
Miki Hardy (1993–present)

Arthur Ian Lavender (born 16 February 1946), better known as Ian Lavender, is an English stage, film and television actor, best known for his role as Private Frank Pike in the BBC comedy series Dad's Army. He is the last surviving cast member to have played one of the seven main characters within the platoon.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Birmingham, England,[1] he later went straight from Bournville Boys Technical School, later Bournville Grammar-Technical School for Boys, where he had appeared in many school dramatic productions including playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, with the assistance of a grant from the City of Birmingham. He quickly made his mark as a talented young actor and following his graduation in 1967 appeared on stage in Canterbury. His first television appearance was as the lead in a Rediffusion play entitled Half Hour Story: Flowers at my Feet in 1968.

Dad's Army[edit]

In 1968, aged 22, Lavender was cast as Private Pike, the youngest member and 'stupid boy' of the platoon in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army. This made him a household name and gave him the great advantage of working alongside a number of experienced actors during his formative years, helping him to hone his acting skills. He appeared in the entire run of the series, and in the spinoff film released in 1971. He appeared in (1974) one episode of Man About The House (While The Cat's Away) as Mark

In 1983, he revived the role of Frank Pike in the BBC Radio sitcom It Sticks Out Half a Mile. The sitcom was a radio-sequel to Dad's Army, but ran for only one series. Lavender has continued to be associated with Dad's Army, and still takes part in occasional fan conventions and cast reunions. He made a variety of appearances during 2008 in connection with the 40th anniversary of the series. These included a reunion with surviving cast members in July, 2008,[2] and an appearance on BBC1's Jonathan Ross Salutes Dad's Army in August. Lavender also recorded a special introduction for a 'lost' colour episode of the sitcom entitled "Room at the Bottom" which was broadcast on 13 December 2008.[3]

After Dad's Army[edit]

After Dad's Army, Lavender returned to the theatre, including a role in a production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice starring Dustin Hoffman. Between 1971 and 1973 Lavender joined Dad's Army colleague Arthur Lowe on the BBC radio comedy Parsley Sidings. He also appeared in films and television series, one of which (Mr Big, 1977) featured him starring alongside Peter Jones and Prunella Scales. During the 1970s he appeared as a supporting actor in a number of British 'low farce' films, including one Carry On film - Carry On Behind (1975). He was reunited with producer David Croft for the television series Come Back Mrs. Noah (1977–78, co-written by Croft with Jeremy Lloyd), though it was unsuccessful. A revival of The Glums (1978–79), at first as part of a Bruce Forsyth variety series, proved rather more satisfactory, being adapted from radio scripts for the 1950s radio series Take It From Here radio series which were written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden.

Lavender then appeared in several other TV comedy shows during the 1980s, including two episodes of Yes Minister, as Dr Richard Cartwright, and a lead role in the short-lived The Hello Goodbye Man (1984), as the inept salesman Denis Ailing. He also appeared on ITV's television game show Cluedo (1990), based on the board game. During the 1990s Lavender continued to appear occasionally in television comedy roles including a bit-part as a burglar alarm salesman in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. He made an appearance in Goodnight Sweetheart as two different parallel universe versions of the time-travelling lead character's son Michael. He also provided the lead voice of BBC children's animation PC Pinkerton in 1988.

In 2001 Lavender joined the BBC soap opera EastEnders, playing the role of Derek Harkinson, a gay friend of Pauline Fowler. He continued in EastEnders for four years, with storylines mainly involving the Fowler family, before leaving the serial in 2005.[4] Lavender then toured with The Rocky Horror Show musical, playing the Narrator. He also played the part of a patient in the 5 May 2007 episode of Casualty on BBC. In late 2007, he toured in the comedy play Donkey's Years. In May 2008, Lavender appeared in the BBC documentary series Comedy Map of Britain. He also appeared on BBC 1's The One Show on Thursday 31 July 2008. Over Christmas 2008, Lavender appeared in Celebrity Mastermind on BBC1. As presenter John Humphrys asked his name, fellow contestant Rick Wakeman shouted 'Don't tell him, Pike!', a reference to Captain George Mainwaring's most famous line from Dad's Army. At the start of 2009, Lavender appeared as a guest character in an episode of the CBBC sitcom, The Legend of Dick and Dom. Lavender starred in the film, 31 North 62 East (released September 2009), an independent psychological thriller starring John Rhys-Davies, Marina Sirtis, Heather Peace and Craig Fairbrass.[5]

Lavender appeared as Monsignor Howard in the West End theatre production of Sister Act the Musical. The musical opened at the London Palladium on 2 June 2009, and ran through to October 2010.[6] In January 2011, Lavender appeared at the Slapstick Silent Comedy Festival in Bristol. Lavender introduced Sherlock, Jr., a 1924 silent film directed by and starring Buster Keaton.[7]

Recent career[edit]

In early 2013, Ian Lavender appeared as The Mikado, in three concert performances of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, taking place in The Royal Festival Hall, London, the Symphony Hall, Birmingham and the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.[8]

In August 2013 Lavender made his Edinburgh Fringe debut in a stage version of The Shawshank Redemption.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Lavender was first married to actress Sue Kerchiss. He married his second wife, the American Miki Hardy, three years his senior, six days after his bladder cancer was diagnosed in 1993. Lavender said "We had been living together for 16 years and it was something I should have done a long time before, these things change you, they help you to see what is important in life." [10] The bladder tumour was operated on successfully, and though Lavender has regular check-ups, doctors are confident the cancer will not return. Lavender also survived a heart attack in the summer of 2004.[11]

He is a lifelong supporter of Aston Villa, and when filming began on Dad's Army, he was allowed to choose Frank Pike's scarf from an array in the BBC wardrobe. He chose a claret and blue scarf - Aston Villa's colours.[12]

Television roles[edit]

Year Title Role
1968 to 1977 Dad's Army Private Frank Pike
1974 Man About the House Mark
1977 Rising Damp Liberal candidate
1977 to 1978 Come Back Mrs. Noah Clive Cuncliffe
1978 to 1979 The Glums Ron Glum
1982 Yes Minister Dr Richard Cartwright
1984 The Hello Goodbye Man Denis Ailing
1998 Goodnight Sweetheart Michael Sparrow
2001 to 2005 EastEnders Derek Harkinson

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ GRO Register of Births: MAR 1946 6d 813 BIRMINGHAM - Arthur I. Lavender, mmn = Johnson
  2. ^ "Dad's Army star slams current TV". bbc.co.uk. 10 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  3. ^ "'Lost' Dad's Army show back on TV". bbc.co.uk. 12 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  4. ^ "Eastenders-Character-Derek Harkinson". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  5. ^ "31 North 62 East - Cast". 31north62east.com. 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  6. ^ "Sheila Hancock, Patina Miller cast in Sister Act". London Theatre Guide. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  7. ^ "Bristol's annual Slapstick festival returns in January, and once again it promises to be a rib-tickling, heart-warming, star-studded event full of classic comedy and live entertainment.". This is Bristol. 2010-12-09. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  8. ^ "Edge Magazine". 
  9. ^ http://www.allmediascotland.com/media-releases/50130/the-shawshank-redemption-ian-lavender-to-make-fringe-debut/
  10. ^ "Marriage". Home.btconnect.com. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  11. ^ "Celebrity Health - Ian Lavender". bbc.co.uk. 8 January 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  12. ^ Whitehead, Richard (2008-09-01). "The soul of Aston Villa in 50 moments, page 9". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 

External links[edit]