Private Godfrey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named Charles Godfrey, see Charles Godfrey (disambiguation).
Private Godfrey
Dad's Army character
Private Godfrey Dads Army.jpg
First appearance The Man and the Hour
Last appearance Never Too Old
Portrayed by Arnold Ridley
Michael Gambon
Occupation Retired shop assistant/tailor
Family Lavinia (aunt)
Elsie (aunt)
Cissy Godfrey (sister)
Dolly Godfrey (sister)
Affiliated with Home Guard

Private Charles Godfrey MM is a fictional Home Guard platoon member and retired shop assistant (Civil Service Stores) portrayed by Arnold Ridley on the BBC television sitcom Dad's Army.[1] 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 becomes clear that he was a conscientious objector in the First World War, a revelation that initially makes him an outsider. However, after he saves Mainwaring's life, his sister reveals 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 (an accomplishment he plays down modestly). This led to him being appointed as First Aid supervisor of the platoon.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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".

He served for 35 years in the Army department of the Civil Service Stores as a tailor. 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!".[5]

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,[6] 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.

UK Military Medal ribbon.svg 1914 Star BAR.svg British War Medal BAR.svg Victory Medal ribbon bar.svg


  1. ^ The 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, nicknamed Pip, Squeak and Wilfred after a trio of popular cartoon characters of the period.


  1. ^ 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 
  2. ^ Webber, Perry, Croft, p.36
  3. ^ Webber, Perry, Croft, p.179
  4. ^ Webber, Perry, Croft, p.81
  5. ^ Webber, Perry, Croft, p.81.
  6. ^ Only in episodes Battle of the Giants! and Never Too Old.
  • Webber, Richard; Perry, Jimmy; Croft, David (2000). The Complete A-Z of Dad’s Army. London: Orion. ISBN 0-7528-4637-X.