List of Dad's Army characters

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The characters of Dad's Army (left to right): Privates Pike and Frazer, ARP Warden Hodges, Private Godfrey, Captain Mainwaring, Private Walker, Lance Corporal Jones and Sergeant Wilson

This is a list of characters in the British television comedy series Dad's Army. In addition to the seven main characters, all members of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon, the series featured a large cast of recurring characters, many of whom began to appear regularly in episodes, particularly following the death of James Beck (who played Private Walker). In addition, a number of characters appeared in significant roles in a single episode or series.

Main platoon members[edit]

Captain Mainwaring[edit]

George Mainwaring (/ˈmænərɪŋ/ MAN-ər-ing) was played by Arthur Lowe. He was the pompous – if essentially brave and unerringly patriotic – local bank manager. Mainwaring appointed himself leader of his town's contingent of Local Defence Volunteers. He and Private Walker were the only adult members of the platoon with no prior combat experience, and therefore had no medals, which was a source of embarrassment for Mainwaring and sometimes caused tension with the other members. He did, however, serve in France, "during the whole of 1919—somebody had to clear up the mess". Although an ensemble piece, the series focuses particularly upon Mainwaring, who has invested all his efforts into the platoon as a way of escaping from an unhappy marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of a bishop, and a stalled career at the bank.

Sergeant Wilson[edit]

Arthur Wilson, played by John Le Mesurier, was a diffident, upper-class bank clerk and Mainwaring's inferior in the bank and on parade. Nevertheless, his suave, understated social superiority, public school education and handsome looks led to a certain amount of jealousy on Mainwaring's part, but Wilson was never particularly bothered by this. He would also subtly question Mainwaring's judgement by asking "Do you think that's wise, sir?" after Mainwaring had given an instruction. Their rivalry came to the fore in "A. Wilson (Manager)?", in which Wilson is appointed manager of another bank, and "The Honourable Man", when Wilson inherits a title. Wilson lodged with Mrs Pike and her son Frank; and it is implied, though never explicitly stated, that he is Frank's father. During the First World War Wilson had been a Captain and fought in the Royal Artillery at Mons, Gallipoli and the Somme.

Lance Corporal Jones[edit]

Jack Jones was the oldest member of the platoon (born 1870), but was played by Clive Dunn, who was in his 40s when he took the role. Jones was an old campaigner who had joined the British Army as a boy soldier and served under Kitchener of Khartoum in the Sudan between 1896 and 1898, and also served in the Boer War and the First World War. By 1940 he was the town butcher, which enabled him to supplement his superiors' meat ration occasionally. Jones was leader of the platoon's first section. He has a story for every occasion, and will never hesitate in telling it, regardless of how long-winded or irrelevant it is. Despite his age, Jones demonstrates an almost boyish enthusiasm for combat, in particular the use of the bayonet, accompanied by his catchphrase "They don't like it up 'em!" He was easily excitable and would repeatedly yell "Don't panic!" in moments of crisis. He was also keen to volunteer for any task, no matter how ill-advised it might be. In "Battle of the Giants!" Jones suffered a malaria relapse.

Private Frazer[edit]

James Frazer was played by John Laurie. The character, who was born in 1872, was a dour Scottish coffin-maker and a retired Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy who fought at the Battle of Jutland (although as a cook). Frazer was blunt, tight with money, and had a gloomy outlook on life; he would proclaim "We're doomed!" in bleak moments faced by the platoon. In the early episodes Frazer kept a philately shop, but by series four the writers had decided that he should become the local undertaker, in keeping with his gloomy nature. Openly eager for more power within the platoon, he sometimes led rebellions against Mainwaring; in response Mainwaring temporarily let Frazer take over as captain in "If the Cap Fits...". Frazer was the only member of the platoon to be portrayed as a villain in episodes such as "A Soldier's Farewell" and "The Two and a Half Feathers", though for the most part he was loyal and well-intentioned. Despite his age, he is one of the more competent members of the platoon.

Private Walker[edit]

Joe Walker was played by James Beck in the television series and seven episodes of the radio series, and by Graham Stark for five radio episodes, with Larry Martyn for the remainder of the radio series. A black market "spiv" (he called himself a "wholesale supplier"), Walker was the only fit, able-bodied man of military age in Walmington-on-Sea's home guard. His absence from the regular armed forces was due to a corned beef allergy, although it was implied that Walker had probably found a way to play the system. Mainwaring often turned a blind eye to his profiteering as he could supply the platoon (and Mainwaring) with useful items. On more than one occasion, Walker's willingness to use underhand tactics allowed Mainwaring's platoon to triumph over rivals in the Home Guard, Army and ARP. He irritated Mainwaring with his penchant for making wisecracks at inappropriate times. Following Beck's death in 1973, Walker was written out of the series. The platoon found a note from Walker, explaining that he had gone to "The Smoke" to conduct some business, and he was not heard from again.

Private Godfrey[edit]

Played by Arnold Ridley, Charles Godfrey was the frailest member of the platoon, and was the platoon's medical orderly. He had served in the First World War as a conscientious-objecting stretcher bearer in the Royal Army Medical Corps, winning the Military Medal before becoming a gentlemen's outfitter at the Army & Navy Stores. Godfrey was a gentle, amiable but vague bachelor who lived with his spinster sisters Dolly and Cissy in an idyllic cottage, and was a martyr to his weak bladder, leading to many requests to be "excused". He was very loyal to Captain Mainwaring, except on one occasion when he took part in a plot to make Mainwaring's feet hurt.

Private Pike[edit]

The youngest platoon member (born 1922) – played by Ian Lavender – Frank Pike, a cosseted mother's boy and often the target of Mainwaring's derision ("You stupid boy!"), was a junior bank clerk. He called Wilson "Uncle Arthur", and although never explicitly stated, it was often evident that Wilson and Pike's mother were in a relationship, which they unsuccessfully tried to hide, and Walmington is rife with gossip about the couple. Wilson is often seen having meals at Mrs Pike's house with Frank, and Pike mentions several times that Wilson spends the night (although he believes he sleeps on the sofa, whilst Wilson accidentally lets slip that he was in fact in bed with Mrs Pike.) It was also occasionally suggested that Wilson was Pike's father (although the writers only acknowledged this in interviews after the programme ended). In an early episode, when asked by Captain Mainwaring why Frank calls him "Uncle Arthur" when he is not a blood relation, Wilson states that it was Mrs Pike who had insisted from an early age Frank call him "Uncle Arthur" and that this dates from a point in Frank's childhood when Frank had started to "accidentally" call Arthur Wilson "something else ... Daddy". He frequently threatens to set his mother on Mainwaring whenever he is shouted at or forced to do anything he doesn't want to do. He has the lowest position at the Swallows Bank branch, subordinate to both Wilson and Mainwaring.

Non-platoon characters[edit]

Chief ARP Warden Hodges[edit]

William Hodges (Bill Pertwee) is Mainwaring's main rival in Walmington-on-Sea. Born in 1893 and a greengrocer by trade, following the outbreak of war he has been given power as Chief Air Raid Warden, and that power has gone to his head. His catchphrase is "Put that light out!" He can be as pompous and officious as Mainwaring, with whom he has a fractious relationship, but is uncouth and coarse with dirty fingernails. Even the usually calm Godfrey tells Hodges he is a "rude, common and nasty fellow".[1] He delights in antagonising the platoon, in particular Mainwaring, whom he calls "Napoleon". This rivalry increased after he was forced to share the church hall with Mainwaring after his headquarters was bombed.[2] Unlike Mainwaring, Hodges did fight in the First World War, and developed a profound dislike of "bloomin' Yanks" in the process.[3]

Hodges tries to take charge of important situations as an "ARP matter" – however, as he also displays a cowardly streak, in any danger he is quick to transfer command back to Mainwaring and withdraw.[4] In several episodes, Hodges refers to having "funny turns", such as "Put that Light Out", which hints that he may suffer from a neurological condition. In some episodes, Hodges, and his co-conspirator, the verger, try to sabotage the platoon's efforts, sometimes at the command of Captain Square.[5] but these efforts typically backfire – a running gag being that Hodges would be thrown into a lake or river – often with the catchphrase "ruddy hooligans!!".

In the episode "High Finance", Mrs Pike (Janet Davies) reveals that Hodges is her landlord, and raised the rent on her house from £1 a month to £2 a month, which she could not afford. He told her she could owe it, only to say later that she owed him £50 in back rent, which he would forget if she was "nice" to him. He claims to have "admired Mrs Pike for years", although she is "besotted" with Sergeant Arthur Wilson.

Despite his hostility toward the platoon, Hodges has sided with the platoon in times of need; in the episode "Wake Up Walmington", as there had been no German invasion, the townspeople had grown indifferent and contemptuous toward the platoon and the wardens. To shock them out of their apathy, Captain Mainwaring and Hodges join forces and the Home Guard disguise themselves as foreign invaders to scare the town into taking the war (and them) seriously.

Hodges even occasionally has moments to indicate his character has a softer side; in "The Deadly Attachment", when one of the German sailors fakes being ill, Hodges is taken in and urges Mainwaring to do something, showing concern for the German as a fellow human by remarking "he's some mother's son". On the other hand, in the episode "My British Buddy", Hodges has no hesitation in showing his contempt for "bloomin' Yanks" and the United States' late entry into the war, sarcastically remarking to the visiting American Army colonel "it's an improvement on last time...two and a half years instead of three!"

Hodges has a Scottish nephew, Hamish, who insulted both the Home Guard and the ARP in "The Recruit", and a niece named Sylvia who briefly dates Private Pike, much to both Hodges' and Mrs Pike's chagrin, in "The Making of Private Pike".

His feelings towards both Mainwaring and his wartime responsibilities are summed up in the episode "Time On My Hands". While Mainwaring is stuck up the town hall clock tower, Hodges shouts:

Radio Version[edit]

In the radio sequel It Sticks Out Half a Mile, Hodges enters a business partnership with Frank Pike to renovate Framborne Pier. In this series his first name is Bert rather than William.

Mrs Mavis Pike[edit]

Mrs Mavis Pike (Janet Davies) was Pike's mother, who appeared in many episodes. She is fiercely protective of Pike and Wilson, to the point that she is accused of "mollycoddling" by Captain Mainwaring. Pike often claims his mother will be "furious" whenever he gets wet or muddy whilst with the Home Guard. Pike often threatens to "tell mum" when Wilson will not let him get his own way, and tries to frighten Mainwaring by setting Mrs Pike on him. She can be quite formidable when she wants to be: in the episode "The Making of Private Pike", Mainwaring threatens to arrest Pike and his mother vows to Wilson that she would make the rest of his life a misery if he lets Mainwaring take him away. Mrs Pike's occupation (if any) is unknown, but she often volunteers her services to the Home Guard. Warden Hodges is her landlord, and he is enamoured with her, but she does not reciprocate his feelings.

It is also implied very heavily that Mrs Pike is Sergeant Wilson's lover, and there are many rumours of Pike being Wilson's son, a fact often pointed out to Wilson by Mainwaring. Both arrived from Weston-super-Mare around the same time, and Wilson unofficially lives with them (although Pike naively believes Wilson sleeps on the sofa, despite it never looking as though it has been slept on.) It is not clear if Mrs Pike is a widow, as her late husband is never clearly mentioned, although Wilson admits that as a child, Pike called him "daddy", implying that any husband she had must have died when Pike was a baby. Wilson claims that "She's a widow and she has my ration book and I go round to her house sometimes for meals ... and that sort of thing" and she often asks him if he will be around to her house for his "usual", much to his embarrassment. Sometimes people remark on the similarity of Sgt Wilson and Private Pike (in particular their mannerisms in the episode "Boots, Boots, Boots"). Although she expresses frustration with Wilson at times (telling him on occasion that he takes her for granted), and has had moments in the series where she's been seen out with other men (including even Warden Hodges at one point), Mrs Pike ultimately remains devoted to Wilson, and is inconsolable on the occasions where she thinks he may have left her for someone else. In the episode "Sgt. Wilson's Little Secret" Wilson agrees to marry Mrs Pike when the impending arrival of an evacuee child at the Pike household is miscommunicated to him and he thinks Mrs Pike is pregnant. When the misunderstanding is resolved, Sgt Wilson jilts her at the altar – as is explained in the opening dialogue of the next episode "A Stripe for Frazer". In the 1971 film, Mrs Pike was played by Liz Fraser. In the 2016 movie, Mrs Pike is portrayed by former Coronation Street actor Sarah Lancashire.

The Vicar[edit]

The Reverend Timothy Farthing MA (Oxon) (Frank Williams) is the petulant, ineffectual, but kind and well-meaning vicar of St Aldhelm's Church, Walmington-on-Sea. Neither on the side of the Home Guard, nor of the ARP Wardens, he attempts to care for "the spiritual needs of (his) parishioners", despite the many setbacks presented during the war, such as having to share his church hall and office with both the pompous Captain Mainwaring and the uncouth Warden Hodges. He is portrayed as a spiritual and learned man, and is shown to be a Master of Arts of the University of Oxford by his academic hood, worn in the episodes "All is Safely Gathered In" and "The Royal Train".

In many episodes he ends up embroiled in the escapades of the platoon, often by accident, and he joins the Home Guard briefly in "The Recruit". In the episode "Time on My Hands" it is revealed that his hobby is archery, when he uses his skills and equipment to rescue the platoon. This episode also includes one of many insinuations from Chief Warden Hodges that the mildly effeminate Vicar may be homosexual: "I've heard you're an expert in fairies".

Despite his unmilitary appearance, in the episode "Battle of the Giants" it is revealed that the Vicar served in the Great War. He was awarded the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, commonly known as Pip Squeak and Wilfred. The medals are lovingly polished by Mr Yeatman. In this episode Mainwaring is acutely sensitive about his own lack of medals. Typically, he dismisses the Vicar's contribution as "two verses of Rock of Ages in a French field while they brought the rations up".

The Vicar's sexuality is left open to speculation, but he is never seen to have a romantic attachment to anyone of either sex; however in the episode "The Captain's Car", the Vicar expected a kiss from a visiting French general and was annoyed when he did not receive one. Farthing is also fond of whisky and there is a recurring gag (in pub situations) where Captain Mainwaring will offer to buy the Vicar a drink and the Vicar will respond "a double whisky (or scotch) please" at a time when whisky was in short supply and expensive. Just as Captain Mainwaring is resigning himself to pay for this expensive beverage the verger will usually insist that Captain Mainwaring change "his Reverence's" order to a single rather than a double as "he's a martyr to it". When Mainwaring orders a single rather than a double, the Vicar will then inform him that he has "noticed" this and insinuate that Captain Mainwaring is mean.

In the 2016 movie, Williams reprised his role as Timothy Farthing, being the only actor to play the same character in the TV series, and both films.

Maurice Yeatman[edit]

Mr Yeatman (Edward Sinclair) is the local verger and captain of the local Sea Scouts unit. Although his name is Maurice, in the episode "War Dance" Jones announces him and his battleaxe wife as "Mr and Mrs Henry Yeatman". He is often hostile to the platoon. Labelled a "troublemaker" by Jones, he is ridiculously loyal to the vicar, and to his good friend and accomplice Warden Hodges, when it comes to causing problems for the platoon. He is constantly asserting the Vicar's opinions on subjects, often only to have the Vicar tell him to "be quiet, Mr Yeatman" and override him or simply to restate what Mr Yeatman has already said in his own words. Often when the verger puts forward a morally judgemental opinion the Vicar will respond that "I've really no idea".

Apart from the menial task of cleaning the hall (Mr Yeatman is referred to in early episodes simply as "the caretaker" and almost always seen to be carrying a yellow duster) he occupies a position of complete political impotence and when the need for his presence at an event is questioned he will respond "I'm here in my capacity". Often when Captain Mainwaring and the vicar or other members of the cast hand each other a physical MacGuffin important to the plot (for example the money in "High Finance") the Verger will intervene, snatching the object – only to hand it back – to make clear his "important" but superfluous role in the administrative processes of the parish.

Mr Yeatman is also in charge of counting the church collections after services, which he often does in the Red Lion public house. Throughout the series, there are numerous insinuations from Lance-Corporal Jones and Chief Warden Hodges that Mr Yeatman is engaged in the systematic embezzlement of church funds, but the Vicar seems to be either in denial of this reality, too trusting and naive to believe it, or he simply turns a blind eye.

Like the vicar and Warden Hodges, the verger is a veteran of the First World War and is noted (in "Battle of the Giants!") as having received several medals. In the episode "Big Guns", he is shown to be familiar with the components of a large naval artillery piece, suggesting (along with his captaincy of the town's Sea Scouts) that he served in the Royal Navy.

Mrs Fox[edit]

Mrs Fox
First appearanceThe Lion Has Phones
Last appearanceNever Too Old
Portrayed byPamela Cundell (television)
Mollie Sugden (radio)
RelativesMr Fox (deceased husband)
Jack Jones (second husband)
Unnamed Brother

Mrs Marcia Mildred Fox is played by the actress[6] Pamela Cundell.[7] In the first episode in which she appears[8] she is seen queueing for meat at Jones the Butchers.

The amorous, larger than life Mrs Fox (Pamela Cundell) gives her matronly attentions freely to the platoon's men and she eventually marries the elderly but eligible Corporal Jones. (Lance Pettit, Museum of Broadcast Communications)

Described by Captain Mainwaring as a "flashy woman", like many of Jones's customers, on producing her ration book she receives an extra sausage, much to the chagrin of another shopper (Olive Mercer, later to be cast as the wife of Mr Yeatman). In return, Jones receives an enormous wink that sets the tone for much of what was to follow as the role develops. Mildred (originally Marcia) Fox is an ebullient woman, who has an off-screen husband in this first episode.[9]

By "The Big Parade", transmitted exactly a year later[10] she is referred to as a widow, so presumably she lost her husband between these episodes. There followed a long-running saga in which Corporal Jones wooed Mrs Fox, often with hilarious consequences; at one point Jones describes the relationship as merely "teutonic" (sic)[11] Whenever he seems to be making progress a setback occurs: for example the arrival of American servicemen turns the heads of the Walmington-on-Sea women.[12]

Victoria Wood said in 2000[13] that part of the success of Dad's Army came from its juxtaposition of comedic situations such as the rivalry between various ladies of the town to play Lady Godiva[14] and the exploration of far deeper, more complex emotions[15] between older people. As the series drew to an end, co-creators David Croft and Jimmy Perry debated whether to marry off Jones and his "Merry Widow".[16] This finally happened in the last episode of the series.[17] She asks Captain Mainwaring to give her away; her brother had also died during hostilities and she no longer has any living male relatives. Right at the end, she refers to herself as "Mrs Jones".

The actress Mollie Sugden played the role in the radio series.

Other platoon members[edit]

In addition to the seven featured players, 1st Platoon 'B' Company also included a "Second Section" and a "Third Section" who filled the platoon up to size while on parade or display. The men of the platoon wear the cap badges of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. The back rows rarely spoke, although according to Jimmy Perry instead of "extras", they were normally retired actors, playwrights or singers.[18] A handful of platoon members had a secondary but significant role in particular episodes:

  • Private Sponge (Colin Bean) – a sheep farmer, and de facto leader of the platoon's Section Two (the extras),[19] although he never actually achieved the corporal's stripe(s) normally associated with a Section leader. Appearing throughout the series, he made more frequent appearances as the show went on, particularly after the death of James Beck, and had a part in 76 episodes.
  • Private Thomas Bracewell (John Ringham) was an upper-class buffoon who was set to be a major character in the series. Due to the large number of major characters that were introduced (and also because he was too similar in character to Godfrey), it was decided that he was to be dropped. He only appears in the first episode of the programme, and was mentioned in the second episode. Ringham also appeared in two episodes as Captain Bailey.
  • Private Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas) – a Welsh journalist who originally appeared in one episode in series six; after the death of James Beck he joined the platoon for series seven. Although Thomas was a capable actor, David Croft wrote that the character was "irritating without being funny", and as an exotic Celt he was too similar to Private Frazer (John Laurie was strongly against the character). The writers decided that Cheeseman should not return for series eight and nine, but they would make more use of the existing minor characters.[20] A character called Charlie Cheeseman (played by Jimmy Perry) appeared in the sixth episode of the first series, but he was unrelated. Cheeseman mentions a wife in Turkey Dinner, but Mrs Cheeseman is not mentioned again.
  • Private George "Nobby" Clarke (John Cater) – joined the platoon briefly when he tried to dig up dirt about Jones's history in the Sudan. He was revealed to have had an affair with his commanding officer's wife, and when this was revealed in Jones's retelling of events, he fled Walmington, never to return.
  • Private Desmond (Desmond Cullum-Jones) – features in the episode "Sons of the Sea", in which he joins the First Section on a river patrol. He does not speak. In total he appeared in 63 episodes in other non-speaking roles.

Other members of the platoon were named as:

  • Private Hancock – played by actor George Hancock (60 episodes)
  • Private Elgood
  • Private Woods
  • Private Meadows
  • Private Agnew
  • Private Bailey
  • Private Day – Peter Honri
  • Private Hardcastle
  • Private Hastings – Hugh Hastings
  • Private Hope
  • Private Locke
  • Private Lovekin
  • Private Macey
  • Private Wiper
  • Private Woods
  • Private Dowding
  • Private Eccles
  • Private Forkus
  • Private Taylor

These were played by Leslie Noyes (49 episodes), Vic Taylor (37 episodes), Hugh Hastings and Evan Ross (34 episodes), Freddie White (51 episodes), Freddie Wiles (57 episodes), Hugh Cecil (50 episodes), Richard Jacques (17 episodes), Peter Whitaker, Martin Dunn and Chris Franks (5 episodes), Emmett Hennessey and Arthur McGuire (2 episodes), Roger Bourne (28 episodes), Frank Godfrey (23 episodes), Michael Moore (45 episodes), Ken Wade (3 episodes), Evan Ross (34 episodes), William Gossling and Vernon Drake (7 episodes), Graham Hamilton, David Seaforth, Richard Ketteridge and Alec Coleman (11 episodes), Freddie Payne, Derek Chaffer and Lindsay Hooper (1 episode) and Jimmy Mac (22 episodes), among others.

Other recurring characters[edit]

  • Mrs Yeatman (Olive Mercer) (series 3-9) – Yeatman's forbidding wife. In "War Dance" Mrs Yeatman is referred to as Anthea, while in "Knights of Madness", her name is Tracy, and in "Everybody's Trucking" her name is Beryl. She appeared from time to time, mostly in situations when she was able to express impatience: for example, as a member of an over-large committee planning a social function or in a queue in Jones's butcher's shop. She led the Walmington-on-Sea ladies netball team. It emerged, after Mrs Yeatman had caught her husband taking an afternoon's ride on a motor-cycle with the flirtatious Mrs Fox, that, somewhat improbably, she herself was involved in an extramarital relationship with the elderly Sidney Blewett.
  • Sidney Blewitt (Harold Bennett) (series 3-9) – an elderly retired gentleman who held a variety of part-time jobs. During the series, he was seen as a photographer and the vicar's gardener, but often as a passer-by who became involved in the platoon's escapades. Sidney is referred to as Norman by Mrs Yeatman in "Everybody's Trucking". He also had a brother called Horace, and mentions a wife in "When Did You Last See Your Money?".
  • Mr Claude Gordon (Eric Longworth) (series 5-9) – the efficient but pompous town clerk, described by Wilson as a "silly bald-headed old duffer".[21] Involved in administrative issues in the town, he has a penchant for saying things are "very nice".
  • The Mayor of Walmington (Fred McNaughton) – Walmington's highest public official. His appearances usually involve playing the straight man to his excitable Town Clerk. Once when watching a keep-fit display, he responds to Mr Gordon's remark of "that's very nice" with a straight-laced "Yes, if you like that sort of thing". He also takes part, in full ceremonial dress, in a thrilling train-chase in the episode "The Royal Train". There are allusions to a habit of making long-winded speeches, but it is Captain Mainwaring who makes those allusions. In reality, the Mayor cuts it short, while Mainwaring is the one who tends to long-winded speeches.
  • Edith Parish, or Shirley, (Wendy Richard) (series 4-6) – Walker's recurring girlfriend appeared in four episodes. Edith (although she is referred to as Shirley in "The King was in his Counting House" and "My British Buddy") is a cinema usherette and was played up to be "a bit of a 'tart'". In particular, she annoys Mainwaring by suggesting that he fancies her.[22]
  • Janet King (Caroline Dowdeswell) (series 1) – a young blonde employee at Mainwaring's bank. According to the series' creator David Croft, she was introduced at a fairly late stage in the scripting because the BBC's head of comedy Michael Mills believed that the programme needed a "soupçon of sex".[23]
  • Elizabeth Mainwaring (unseen character) – Captain Mainwaring's wife, never seen or heard directly; she "hasn't left the house since Munich". Her presence is mainly indicated by her telephone calls to her husband. The nearest we get to seeing her is in one episode where we hear her footsteps, and another where we see her very large posterior hanging down above Mainwaring when they are in bunks in an air raid shelter, giving a clue to her figure. Wilson is the only one who has ever met her, but when asked to describe her, he cannot, although he admits she looks "a bit odd". Through dialogue it is clear that Mrs Mainwaring is cold, reclusive, and withholding of affection, and that she is blatantly the dominant figure in the marriage. It is often implied she may be an alcoholic, as Mainwaring is repeatedly revealed to be buying bootleg whisky and gin from Walker for his wife, but insists she takes it only for "medicinal purposes". Mainwaring often uses the platoon as a means of avoiding her, and prefers not to introduce her to other people, lest she upset them. Sometimes Captain Mainwaring appears sporting minor physical injuries, such as a black eye in the episode "War Dance" for which he offers comically unconvincing explanations such as "walking into the linen cupboard door". It is strongly insinuated that these injuries are the result of domestic violence; and they often seem to happen before a function or event where other women may be present, to which Elizabeth is invited but cannot attend as it would involve going out. Perhaps she is an agoraphobic, but she does venture out of the house (off-camera) in "The Godiva Affair", and is away, visiting her sister, in various episodes. We discover in "Never Too Old" that Mrs Mainwaring was the daughter of the Suffragan Bishop of Clegthorpe (a fictional see) and her parents look down on Captain Mainwaring as "marrying beneath her". In "A Soldier's Farewell" Mainwaring claims she is vegetarian.
  • Dolly Godfrey (Amy Dalby and Joan Cooper) Private Godfrey's younger sister. Renowned for the quality of her upside-down cakes and cucumber sandwiches. Although she appears rarely, she is constantly referred to by her brother. Amy Dolby played her in one episode of series 2, "The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage", and then Joan Cooper played her in one episode of series 8, "Is There Honey Still for Tea?", a Christmas special, "The Love of Three Oranges", and the final episode, "Never Too Old". Cooper (who was actually married to Arthur Lowe) also appeared in "No Spring for Frazer" as Miss Baker, an undertaker's secretary and in "Time on My Hands", as Miss Fortescue, a tea shop owner.
  • Cissy Godfrey, (Nan Braunton and Kathleen Saintsbury) Private Godfrey's other sister, appeared in one episode of series 2 and three episodes of series 3 (1969), played by Nan Braunton. Braunton reprised the role in two episodes of the radio series, in which Cissy was Private Godfrey's only sister. The role of Cissy was later taken over by Kathleen Saintsbury in an episode of the eighth television series, and by Joan Cooper (who had previously played Dolly Godfrey in the television series) in an episode of the third radio series. Braunton played Cissy in one episode of series 2, "The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage" and three episodes of series 3, "The Day the Balloon Went Up", "War Dance" and "Branded". Saintsbury played Cissy in one episode of series 8, "Is There Honey Still for Tea?".
  • Colonel Pritchard (Robert Raglan) (series 4-9) – The superior officer from whom Captain Mainwaring most frequently received his orders. A stern, serious man, he unexpectedly appeared to admire Mainwaring, frequently commenting on his successes and warning people not to underestimate him.[24] Raglan also played Captain Square's sergeant in Don't Forget the Diver and Inspector Hardcastle in the feature film, Dad's Army (1971).
  • Captain Square (Geoffrey Lumsden) (all series) – commander of the Eastgate platoon of the Home Guard and rival of Captain Mainwaring. A stereotypical military buffoon, with a handlebar moustache, in early episodes he was portrayed as a corporal in the Home Guard and was referred to as "Corporal Colonel Square" to acknowledge his previous commissioned officer rank in the Regular Army. He was later promoted to captain and placed in command of the Eastgate platoon, which is first revealed in "Don't Forget the Diver". Square had a serious military record, fighting in the desert with Lawrence of Arabia and winning several medals, including the DSO. In "A Brush with the Law", it is revealed that he is a magistrate. Square was even more pompous than Mainwaring, and acted condescendingly towards his inexperienced rival, such as by deliberately mispronouncing Mainwaring's name. Despite his contempt of Mainwaring, Square was on excellent terms with Wilson, possibly because they had in common an upper class background. In the episode "A. Wilson (Manager)?", he commissioned Wilson as the lieutenant of his Eastgate platoon. Square could be overconfident at times, and Mainwaring and the Walmington platoon did sometimes get the better of him and his platoon.
  • Gerald (Don Estelle) – a diminutive Lancastrian ARP Warden, seen in various episodes. He usually appears as a friendly, but slightly frustrating sidekick to Hodges. He played cricket for the Wardens XI in "The Test".
  • Reg Adamson (Stuart Sherwin) – Easygoing warden who is sometimes overpowered by Hodges' zeal and unscrupulous methods – particularly his vendetta with Mainwaring's platoon. He gave evidence against Mainwaring in "A Brush with the Law".
  • Raymond (Dick Haydon/John Ash) – The "young lad" who assists Jones at his butcher's shop in the High Street. He is mentioned in multiple episodes, but only appears in two. In the first he was a young man in his twenties, in the second a lad in his early teens. In "Big Guns", Jones refers to his assistant as "the boy Ronald" instead of Raymond. As well as Raymond, Jones employs an unseen woman named Miss Doris Mortimer to handle the money and ration coupons.

Guest characters[edit]

  • Barry Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe) – The long-lost brother of Captain George Mainwaring, he appeared once in the entire series, in "My Brother and I". He and his brother apparently always clash due to their differing personalities, with Barry repeatedly referring to his brother as "po-face". He worked as a travelling salesman for a joke shop, and was an alcoholic.
  • Colonel Schultz (Alan Tilvern) – Commander of an American advance party detachment posted in Walmington-on-Sea. After a fight between US troops and the Home Guard, Mainwaring is ordered to make a public apology.
  • Captain Stewart (Michael Knowles) – A smarmy officer from the War Office who informs Mainwaring that his platoon have been picked for "special duties" (which in fact means digging latrines and peeling potatoes). One of several similar characters portrayed in the series by Michael Knowles.
  • Captain Ramsey (Fulton Mackay) – A tough but fair Scottish officer who runs a training course to test Home Guard units and assess whether they are 12-star material. His attempts to make the weekend a serious test of the men are frustrated (largely by the idiocy of Corporal Jones and a stray consignment of onions) and he quickly becomes exasperated. Ramsey's favourite catchphrase appears to be "you haven't done very well", which is quickly amended when Mainwaring and his men pull off "the best bit of initiative I've seen in this whole war" for which he awards them the coveted 12 stars. Fulton MacKay's character seems to have come straight out of his Mr Mackay persona in Porridge. (Fulton MacKay also appeared as a doctor in the episode "The Miser's Hoard".)
  • U-Boat Captain (Philip Madoc) – Commander of the crew of a captured U-Boat that brings Mainwaring and the platoon face-to-face with the Nazi enemy in "The Deadly Attachment". He is a supercilious brute who keeps a list of Britons who offend him so that they will be brought to account "when we win the war", which unsurprisingly gets Mainwaring's dander up. He is also cunning, as when he tricks his captors by feigning illness. He presents Mainwaring with one of the platoon's most dangerous situations in the entire series when he takes them prisoner and plans to take them back to France, only to be foiled in the nick of time.
  • General Monteverdi (Edward Evans) – The senior Italian officer in a POW camp who tries to defend the scruffiness and general laziness of the Italian detainees. He was captured serving in North Africa, apparently because he refused to fight against the English. Mainwaring clearly does not think much of him. It is revealed that Monteverdi is complicit in Walker's scheme to smuggle prisoners out at nights to work for him.
  • Mrs Prentice (Brenda Cowling) – An old friend of Godfrey, now in possession of her late husband's farm which needs harvesting. Mainwaring volunteers the platoon's services. In gratitude, she organises supper and potato wine for the platoon which leads to some high spirits. A widow, having spurned him to marry a farmer, Godfrey hints at a more intimate moment when he tells her he hasn't touched potato wine "since that night".
  • Captain Rodrigues (Alan Tilvern) – A Spanish Civil War veteran who is only interested in "killing Nazis". He dislikes the platoon of "amateurs" and thinks Mainwaring should go back to running a bank. He is portrayed as a vicious, unpleasant character. He appears closer to a bandit than a Captain in the British army.
  • Mr West (Robert Dorning) – A bank Inspector from Head Office. Shocked at the irregular running of the Walmington-on-Sea branch. A pompous and highly-strung character.
  • Violet Gibbons (Jenny Thomas) – An ATS girl to whom Pike is briefly engaged, much to Mainwaring's disapproval. She had previously worked at Woolworths, a Fish and Chip Shop and for a while dated Private Walker. She appears at the platoon dance, where Pike announces their engagement. Looking bored and chewing gum she does not entirely appear to return Pike's unquestioning adoration and, much to everyone's relief, the engagement is quickly broken off.
  • E.C. Egan (Fred Trueman) – A professional fast-bowler recruited by Hodges as an ARP Warden in an underhand attempt to win the friendly cricket match between the Wardens and the Home Guard. Egan reckons he can skittle Mainwaring's men out in about four overs. However he badly injures his shoulder after his first delivery and has to leave the field. In his absence, the Home Guard go on to win the match due to Hodges declaring early. In reality, Trueman played many matches for England.
  • Lady Maltby (Mavis Pugh) – A local aristocrat who lends the platoon her Rolls Royce for the duration of the war. She is socially acquainted with Sergeant Wilson, much to the irritation of Captain Mainwaring. Her late husband was a greengrocer.
  • Mrs Fiona Gray (Carmen Silvera) – A charming lady, recently arrived from London, who joins the platoon after it begins recruiting women in the episode "Mum's Army". She shares a Brief Encounter-style relationship with Captain Mainwaring before leaving unexpectedly.
  • Patrick Regan (J. G. Devlin) – A suspected member of the Irish Republican Army, the platoon are ordered to arrest him, but only a few are available. Trouble comes when his "associates" come looking for him, leading to a brawl. Fortunately Wilson proves to be handy with his fists.
  • Police Constable (Arthur English) – a Walmington police constable deputed to arrest Regan. He came alone, as the rest of his station were busy playing a darts match with the Free French. He warns that Regan may be an "ugly customer", but Mainwaring ignores his advice.
  • General Menzies (Campbell Singer) – Local commander. Visiting the platoon while Fraser is in temporary command in the episode "If the Cap Fits..." he mistakes him for Mainwaring. He invites his fellow Scot to a dress dinner to pipe in the haggis. Fraser hopes this will embarrass the English Mainwaring, but to everyone's shock Mainwaring had learned the bagpipes on his honeymoon, foiling Fraser's scheme.
  • Mr Palethorpe (Jack Haig) – Landlord of the Six Bells just outside Walmington. When the platoon, dressed as Nazis for the production of a film, enter the bar and demand to be served he is convinced the balloon has gone up and triggers an invasion alert. Haig had previously been considered for the role of Lance-Corporal Jones and also appeared briefly as a gardener in the episode "The Day the Balloon Went Up".
  • Sir Charles McAllister (Campbell Singer) – A distinguished Scottish politician. He appears in "Is There Honey Still for Tea?" where he is blackmailed by Fraser (who threatens to expose his unsavoury past) into re-siting the proposed aerodrome that threatens Godfrey's cottage.
  • Mr Bugden (Peter Butterworth) – A harassed Walmington printer, whose firm's error leads to Corporal Jones being interned as a dangerous Prisoner of War.
  • Mr Rees (Edward Evans) – The Welsh town clerk of Walmington as seen in "Big Guns". His administration appears to have preceded that of Mr Gordon, as he only appeared once early in the series. Mainwaring's strained dealings with him appears to be typical of his relationship with small-town officialdom.
  • Mr Sedgewick (Erik Chitty) – A mild-mannered Walmington shoe-shop proprietor.
  • Sylvia Hodges (Jean Gilpin) – Hodges' niece, a member of the ATS, appears in Walmington during the episode "The Making of Private Pike". She attracts the interest of both Wilson and Pike. She and Pike go on a date together to Eastgate cinema, during which they "borrow" Mainwaring's new staff car. Relations between them begin to disintegrate when the car breaks down on the way back – forcing them to spend the night together. This leads to some widespread assumptions, causing Wilson to now regard Pike as a "kindred spirit".


  1. ^ "Time on my Hands"
  2. ^ "Uninvited Guests"
  3. ^ "The Big Parade"
  4. ^ Something Nasty in the Vault
  5. ^ "Don't Forget the Diver", "Gorilla Warfare"
  6. ^ See warm appreciation in fellow cast member Bill Pertwee's ca Television Legend (Sutton, Foreland 1989) ISBN 1-872699-28-6
  7. ^ Cundell's professional CV
  8. ^ The Lion Has Phones Series 3, Episode 3 (originally transmitted on 25 September 1969)- in which she is credited as one of the "Ladies in butcher's queue"
  9. ^ In that opening scene she quite clearly states that her husband "...will have his little bit of brisket, you know." S3,E3(ibid)
  10. ^ Series 4, Episode 1 as stated in Complete A-Z of Dad's Army (Webber, Ed)London, Orion 2000 ISBN 0-7528-1838-4
  11. ^ Dad's Army. The Story Of A Classic Television Show McCann, G London, Fourth Estate 2001. ISBN 1-84115-308-7
  12. ^ My British Buddy Series 6 E2 8 November 1973
  13. ^ 28 May 2000 BBC1 Don't Panic! The Dad's Army Story, a 50-minute documentary researched and hosted by Victoria Wood (repeated by BBC2 on 28 December 2001)
  14. ^ The Godiva Affair Series 7, Episode 4: 6 December 1974
  15. ^ For example, Captain Mainwaring's feelings for Mrs Gray (Carmen Silvera) in "Mum's Army" ( S4, E9 )
  16. ^ See their Dad's Army (Sphere 1976) ISBN 0-7221-0406-5
  17. ^ On line biography
  18. ^ McCann, 64
  19. ^ The Independent obituary.
  20. ^ David Croft, Dad's Army: The Complete Scripts, Orion 2003, p.13
  21. ^ "The Godiva Affair"
  22. ^ "Mum's Army"
  23. ^ Graham McCann (2001) Dad's Army
  24. ^ "Gorilla Warfare"