|This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (December 2015)|
|Dad's Army character|
|First appearance||The Man and the Hour|
|Last appearance||Never Too Old|
|Portrayed by||Arnold Ridley
|Occupation||Retired shop assistant/tailor|
Cissy Godfrey (sister)
Dolly Godfrey (sister)
|Affiliated with||Home Guard|
Private Charles Godfrey MM is a fictional Home Guard platoon member and variously retired assistant in the sports department of the Civil Service Stores (TV) or tailor and assistant in the Army & Navy Stores (radio) portrayed by Arnold Ridley on the BBC television sitcom Dad's Army. and in the 1971 Dad's Army film. He is portrayed by Michael Gambon in the 2016 Dad's Army film.
Godfrey was born in 1871, and is a gentle, mild-mannered and kindly old man, though more complex than at first evident. He is the only member of the platoon who has retired. In the episode "Branded" it is revealed that he was a conscientious objector in the First World War. This revelation initially makes him a pariah. However, during a training exercise, he risks his life to rescue Captain Mainwaring. Later, his sister reveals to the platoon that, far from avoiding service, he earned the Military Medal during the Battle of the Somme, where he served with distinction as a stretcher bearer with the Royal Army Medical Corps, and heroically saved several men's lives while under fire, an accomplishment he plays down modestly. This earns him the respect of the platoon, and led to him being appointed as First Aid supervisor. Arnold Ridley actually served during the First World War with the Somerset Light Infantry, and fought in the Battle of the Somme where he was severely wounded. These injuries gave a practical reason for his role: it was much easier for Ridley to carry the first aid bag than a heavy rifle.
Godfrey is a long-standing friend of Sergeant Wilson, and in the episode "High Finance" he lends Wilson a large sum of money when Mrs Pike is blackmailed by Hodges. He lives in picturesque Cherry Tree Cottage with his hard-of-hearing spinster sisters, Dolly and Cissy. He is clearly very fond of them, and often brings them up in conversation. When provisions are needed, his sister Dolly often provides upside-down cakes.
He is immensely loyal to Captain Mainwaring, who often feels quite guilty whenever he has criticised Godfrey:
- Mainwaring: "If you're not fit for active service, perhaps you shouldn't come at all."
- Godfrey: "I didn't want to disappoint you, sir."
- Mainwaring: "Well done Godfrey."
- from the episode "Everybody's Trucking".
- Mainwaring: "Any previous military experience?"
- Godfrey: "Well, as a matter of fact, I was thirty-five years in the Army & Navy"
- Mainwaring: "Army AND Navy?! How did you come to be serving in both branches?"
- Godfrey: "Army & Navy stores. I served in the Gents Outfitting department."
- from the radio adapted episode "The Man and the Hour".
An aspect of his old age is his weak bladder, which lets him down and postpones all platoon activity, hence his catchphrase, "May I be excused, sir?", and his tendency to fall asleep can be similarly categorised: "I must have dropped off!".
In the episode "All is Safely Gathered In", it is revealed that Godfrey and Mrs Prentice who owns a local farm were once young lovers. It is revealed by Dolly in the final episode "Never Too Old" that the reason they did not marry was that they were not of the same social class. When Godfrey informs Dolly that he and Mrs Prentice are still in contact and meet she seems a bit taken aback. Godfrey appears to be representative of the British upper middle class, and often turns up to platoon social functions overdressed in white tie and tails, with top hat and cape.
Although Private Godfrey rarely wore his ribbons, he was awarded the usual trilogy of First World War campaign medals (commonly known as "Pip, Squeak and Wilfred"),[Note 1] in addition to his Military Medal for bravery.
- Webber, Richard; Perry, Jimmy; David, Croft (2000), The Complete A-Z of Dad’s Army, London: Orion Books, pp. 288, p80–81, ISBN 0-7528-4637-X
- Webber, Perry, Croft, p.36
- Webber, Perry, Croft, p.179
- Webber, Perry, Croft, p.81
- Webber, Perry, Croft, p.81.
- Only in episodes Battle of the Giants! and Never Too Old.