List of characters in Dad's Army
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Main platoon members
Mainwaring (pronounced /ˈmænərɪŋ/ MAN-ər-ing) was played by Arthur Lowe. He was the pompous - if essentially brave and unerringly patriotic - local bank manager. In the series pilot Mainwaring appointed himself leader of his town's contingent of Local Defence Volunteers. Of the platoon, he and Joe Walker were the only adult members with no prior combat experience, and, therefore, had no medals - a fact which sometimes caused tension with the other members of the Home Guard. He did, however, serve in France, "during the whole of 1919—somebody had to clear up the mess." Although an ensemble piece, the series focused 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.
Wilson, played by John Le Mesurier, was a diffident, upper-class bank clerk, Wilson was nonetheless Mainwaring's inferior in the bank and on parade; his suave, understated social superiority, public school education and handsome looks led to a certain amount of jealousy on Mainwaring's part. During World War I he fought in the Royal Artillery at Mons, Gallipoli and the Somme. In the last episode he revealed that he had been a Captain.
Jones was the oldest member of the platoon (born 1870), but was played by Clive Dunn, a younger actor. Jones was an old campaigner who had participated, as a boy soldier, in the campaign of Kitchener of Khartoum in the Sudan between 1896 and 1898, and also fought in World War I. By 1940 he worked as the town butcher, which occasionally enabled him to supplement his superiors' meat ration. 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 being the oldest member of the platoon, Jones demonstrates an almost boyish enthusiasm for combat and is the first to volunteer for anything, no matter how ill-advised that may be. In Battle Of The Giants we learn Jones caught malaria whilst serving in Africa, he got over the main illness but sometimes (though not often) he gets malarial chills, he tells Mainwaring not to worry because he says "I've been getting these chills for 40 years". Jack Haig was David Croft's original first choice for the role, and David Jason, who later excelled at playing characters such as Blanco in "Porridge", was also linked to the role.
Walker was played by James Beck in the television series and seven episodes of the radio series, Graham Stark for five radio episodes with Larry Martyn for the remainder of the radio series. A black market "spiv", 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 sometimes 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 was disciplined several times by Captain Mainwaring for making jokes at inappropriate times. Though Beck was the second youngest regular cast member, he was the first to die. As a result, Walker was written out of the series after series 6.
The youngest platoon member - played by Ian Lavender - 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 implied that Wilson and Pike's mother were having a relationship. It was also occasionally suggested that Wilson was Pike's father (although the writers only acknowledged this in interviews after the programme ended). 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 Swallow bank, subordinate to both Wilson and Mainwaring.
Frazer was played by John Laurie. The character was a dour Scottish coffin maker and a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy who fought at the Battle of Jutland (although his main duty was cooking), Frazer was tight with money, had wild staring eyes, and was known for issuing regular pronouncements of doom. In the early episodes Frazer was the keeper of 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 Manwaring and 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.
Played by Arnold Ridley, Godfrey, whilst not as old as Jones, was certainly the most frail member of the platoon, and as such was the platoon's medical orderly. He had served in World War One as a conscientious-objecting stretcher bearer, winning the Military Medal before becoming a tailor at the Army & Navy Stores. Godfrey was an amiable, vague, lifelong bachelor who lived with his sisters 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.
Hodges (Bill Pertwee) was the platoon's major rival and nemesis. An uncompromising, grumpy greengrocer by day, and Chief Air Raid Warden by night, he relishes in teasing the platoon when they are caught in sticky situations. His nickname for Mainwaring is "Napoleon" and he once had a fling with Mrs. Pike. He is her landlord.
Mrs. Pike (Janet Davies) was Pike's mother and Sergeant Wilson's lover, she appeared in most episodes. She was fiercely protective of Pike and Wilson, to the point that she was accused of "mollycoddling" by Captain Mainwaring.
The Vicar (Frank Williams) was the vicar of St. Aldhelm’s Church. To help the war effort, he shares his church hall and office with Mainwaring's platoon, much to his dismay because he never gets to use it when he needs it.
Mr. Yeatman (Edward Sinclair) was the local verger and head of the Sea Scouts group. Yeatman was often hostile to the platoon. Labelled a "troublemaker" by Jones, he is ridiculously loyal to the vicar, and his good friend Mr. Hodges.
Other platoon members
In addition to the seven featured players, the platoon also included a "back row" of anonymous extras, who filled the platoon up to size while on parade or display. The extras did not speak, but there were a handful of platoon members who had a secondary but significant role:-
- Private Sponge (Colin Bean) - a farmer, leader of the platoon's section two (the extras). Appearing throughout the series, he made more frequent appearances as the show went on, particularly after the death of Beck.
- Private Thomas Bracewell (John Ringham) was an upper-class buffoon who was set to be a major character in the series. Due to the overwhelming number of major characters that were introduced, it was decided that he was to be dropped. He only appears in first episode of the programme, and was mentioned in the second episode. Ringham also appeared in 2 episodes as Captain Bailey.
- Private Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas) - originally a Welsh journalist who appeared in one episode in series six, after the death of James Beck he joined the platoon for series seven. David Croft writes that the character was "irritating without being funny", although it is also reported that John Laurie (Frazer), the show's resident Scot, was strongly against the character. The writers decided that Cheeseman should not return for series eight and nine. A character called Charlie Cheeseman (played by Jimmy Perry) appeared in the sixth episode, but he was unrelated.
- Private George 'Nobby' Clarke (John Cater) - joined the platoon briefly when he tried to dig up dirt about Jones' 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' retelling of events, he fled Walmington never to return.
Other members of the platoon mentioned by name throughout the series are: Agnew; Bailey; Cullen-Jones; Day; Desmond; Elgood; Hancock; Hardcastle; Hastings; Hope; Locke; Lovekin; Macey; Meadows; Wiper; Woods.
- Mrs. Yeatman (Olive Mercer) (series 5,8) - Beryl Yeatman was the verger's wife, referred to in one episode by her husband as Tracey. She ran the women's keep fit club. In Everybody's Trucking, it was revealed she was having an affair with Mr. Blewitt.
- Norman Blewitt (Harold Bennett) (series 3-9) - Mr Blewitt was an elderly gentleman who recurred in a variety of roles, but always under the same name. 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.
- Mrs Fox (Pamela Cundell) (series 2-9) - Corporal Jones's lady friend and finally wife. Described as a "flashy woman" by Captain Mainwaring, her first name in the episode "Mum's Army" is revealed as Marcia, although this changes to "Mildred" by the final episode. However, she is mostly referred to as Mrs. Fox. In the early episodes she mentions her husband, but by series four she is a widow and is seen about with several men of the town in addition to Jones. In one episode, The Godiva Affair, Jones fears he has lost her affections to Mr. Gordon, and, in Everybody's Trucking, Mrs Yeatman's discovery of the verger out for a spin on a motor-cycle with Mrs Fox provokes the revelation of her own liaison with Mr Blewitt. When, at Jones's prompting, Mainwaring raises the question of her apparently split affections between Jones and Gordon, Mrs Fox misunderstands his purpose and, to Mainwaring's horror, thinks that he is propositioning her himself.
- Mr Gordon (Eric Longworth) (series 5-9) - the town clerk, described by Wilson as a "silly bald-headed old duffer". 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.
- Shirley (Wendy Richard) (series 4-6) - Walker's recurring girlfriend appeared in 4 episodes, Shirley (although she is referred to as Edith Parish in "Mum's Army" and is credited the name of Edith Parish in her first appearance in the series 4 episode "The two and half feathers"), 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.
- Janet King (Caroline Dowsdewell) (series 1) - a young blonde female employee at Mainwaring's bank.
- 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 felt by her telephone calls to her husband.
- Dolly Godfrey (Amy Daulby, later Joan Cooper) Private Godfrey's younger sister. Renowned for the quality of her upside-down cakes and cucumber sandwiches. Like Mrs Mainwaring she rarely appears, but is constantly referred to by her brother. Joan Cooper, Arthur Lowe's real-life wife, also played Dolly in the stage adaptation of Dad's Army.
- Cissy Godfrey Private Godfrey's other sister appeared in one episode of series 2 and 3 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.
- Colonel Pritchard (Robert Raglan) (series 3-9) - 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. Raglan also played Captain Square's sergeant in one episode.
- Captain Square (Geoffrey Lumsden) (all series) - commander of the Eastgate platoon of the Home Guard and rival of Captain Mainwaring. In early episodes he was "Corporal-Colonel Square", being a Corporal in the Home Guard and a former Colonel in the Army. In episode three, he almost replaces Mainwaring due to having weapons, but these turn out to be very out-of-date. In A Brush with the Law, Square is seen in his other capacity as a magistrate and almost has the chance to send Mainwaring to prison.
- Gerald (Don Estelle) - 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 during 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 during A Brush with the Law
- 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 in 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 harsh 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 seemed to have come straight out of his Mr Mackay personae 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, brings Mainwaring face to face with the Nazi enemy in The Deadly Attachment. A supercilious brute who is making a list of Britons who offend him to be brought to account "when we have won the war" which unsurprisingly get Mainwaring's gander 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 and deadly situations in the entire war, when he takes the entire platoon prisoner and plans to take them back to France with him, 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. Serving in North Africa he was captured, 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) - Bank Inspector from Head Office. Shocked at the irregular running of the Walmington-on-Sea branch. A pompous and highly-strung character.
- Violet Gibbons (Sally Douglas) - 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 Grey (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.
- 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) - 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’.
- ^ David Croft, Dad's Army: The Complete Scripts, Orion 2003, p.13