Private Frank Pike
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|Private Frank Pike|
|Dad's Army character|
|First appearance||The Man and the Hour|
|Last appearance||Never Too Old|
|Portrayed by||Ian Lavender|
|Affiliated with||Home Guard|
Private Frank Pike is a fictional Home Guard platoon Informations officer as appointed by Captain Manwaring in The Man and the Hour and junior bank clerk portrayed by Ian Lavender in the BBC television sitcom Dad's Army. He is frequently referred to by Captain Mainwaring as "stupid boy".
Frank Pike (born 1922) is the youngest of the Walmington-on-Sea platoon. Aged 17 when the series begins, he is not old enough to join the army, although presumably he has reached, or is nearing, his 18th birthday when he is about to receive call-up papers in When You've Got to Go; in the event, it is revealed that he has a rare blood type that excludes him from military service. In War Dance, it is revealed to Mainwaring from Wilson that Pike "is going on 19". He lives in the shadow of his bossy and over-protective mother, Mavis Pike, who is in a relationship with Sergeant Arthur Wilson, referred to by Pike as "Uncle Arthur", who is hinted to be Pike's father. If so, he also has an older half-sister by Wilson's estranged wife. (The writers, Jimmy Perry and David Croft, confirmed after the series that Wilson was Pike's father.) His mother is supposedly a widow; it is unclear if there ever really was a Mr. Pike, as he is never clearly mentioned. (However, if she is a widow, then Mr. Pike would have died when Pike was a baby, as he initially called Wilson "Daddy" until told to call him "Uncle.")
It is common for Pike to threaten to set his mum on either Captain George Mainwaring, his commanding officer, or Sergeant Wilson if he is shouted at or forced to do something. Although naive, Pike is aware something is going on with his mother and Wilson:
- Pike: "By the time we finish supper, it's always so late, you never leave our house until after I've gone to bed and then you're back early for breakfast before I'm awake. But what I can't understand is that I never hear you leave at night and I never hear you come back in."
- Wilson: "Well I let myself in and out very quietly"
- Pike: "You don't do anything else very quietly!"
Early in the series 1, Pike does show some mild romantic attraction to Janet King, Mainwaring's secretary when he talks to her about his guard duties. In War Dance, Pike becomes engaged to an Army girl called Violet Gibbons who works in a bank, but it gets called off. Later on, Pike starts seeing a young cinema girl called Ivy, who speaks so quietly, nobody can ever hear her say anything. He briefly develops a crush on Hodges's niece Sylvia, but that quickly fizzles out. In The Royal Train, it is revealed that Pike has learned how to drive a train and can actually drive a train.
Pike is naive and acts childishly; he has limited grasp of adult issues. He is frequently found with confectionery, is upset in "The Big Parade" to leave a cinema early because he had "missed the Donald Duck" and can be petulant to superiors. This annoys Captain Mainwaring, who refers to him as a "stupid boy" due to his carelessness and mistakes, and in the episode "Gorilla Warfare", Mainwaring opines that Pike is "slightly retarded." Mainwaring treats Pike as a child, threatening to send him home from meetings if he does not behave. Mainwaring also treats Pike as a dogsbody, and gives him menial, demeaning, dangerous or undignified tasks, refusing to "mollycoddle" him. Pike frequently ends up wet, covered in mud or otherwise humiliated. In "Things that Go Bump in the Night", he was stripped several times and had to run naked through a field to escape dogs. Pike does however sometimes show some maturity. In Menace from the Deep, when Pike has lost all the food brought out to the pier by not tying up the boat correctly, he apologizes to each member of the platoon on the pier.
Although Pike comes up with sensible solutions to problems encountered by the platoon, he treats "everything as if it's a game", to quote Mainwaring in "All is Safely Gathered In". Notably, in "The Deadly Attachment", Pike was put on an ominous 'list' by a German U-Boat captain due to Mainwaring's incompetence at preventing the German from learning Pike's name ("Don't tell him, Pike!"), spelling his doom should the Germans win the war; however, as Pike had sung a childish song about Adolf Hitler in front of this officer, it is his own fault in refusing to take the situation seriously. He would rather play at being a Chicago gangster with the platoon's grenades or Tommy gun. He exasperates Mainwaring but he is humoured by other members, particularly Lance Corporal Jack Jones, Private Charles Godfrey and Private Joe Walker. Pike is one of the most timid members of the group, but was the first in the series to fire on a suspected enemy The Enemy Within the Gates even though it turned out to be a swan.
Pike is sickly and unhealthy. An army doctor certified him healthy when he received his call-up papers, though it then appears that he has a rare blood type that excludes him from military service. But most of his "illnesses" stem from his mother's protectiveness. Pike wears a scarf, usually claret and blue, with his Home Guard uniform. Supposedly this prevents him from getting croup, even though only infants and, apparently, chickens are supposed to get it ("Menace from the Deep").
Pike is a fan of the cinema and narrates the plots of films that relate to the platoon, even if the relationship is vague. When the film example does mirror reality, he picks scenarios which end in death.
Pike makes pointless comments while trying to help: this is illustrated in Absent Friends. Jones, Mainwaring, Pike and Wilson are searching for an escaped convict, with the help of the police.
- Jones: "Perhaps they're hidin' behind the bushes, sir. They do a lot of hidin' behind bushes, do policemen. Especially when they're knockin' people off."
- Mainwaring: "I don't think that's very likely, Jones."
- Pike: "In that film, 'Public Enemy Number One', they hid behind cars. But there aren't any here."
Ian Lavender was invited to choose Pike's scarf from the BBC costume department. As a supporter of Aston Villa, he chose the team's colours.