IAN LAVENDER

Play: The Shawshank Redemption: The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 2013
Don’t Tell Him Pike! The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 2014
Don’t Tell Him Pike Part 2: More Tales from The Not So Stupid Boy: The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 2015

I first saw comic actor Ian Lavender make his Edinburgh Festival Fringe acting debut playing the much more serious role of Brooksie, a prisoner in the stage version of the classic Stephen King story and film The Shawshank Redemption in 2013.

Dad’s Army is one of the classic British comedies that after fifty years is still shown on television today.  In 2005, I was very lucky to attend a TV recording of The Two Ronnies Sketchbook.  As I looked around the packed audience, I noticed several celebrities and writers of the show who were guests in the audience.  In front of me was Jimmy Perry, the creator of many TV comedy greats including Dad’s Army. As he left his seat to leave the theatre, I grabbed his reserved sign and asked if he would sign it.  He signed the sheet and shook my hand warmly.  I have the autograph stuck in the back page of his autobiography A Stupid Boy which I later bought as is a fascinating read.  It is a treasured memory of a charming, funny writer and I was very sad to hear that he had passed away in 2016.

You Stupid Boy! and Don’t Tell Him Pike! were uttered by Captain Mainwaring (played by Arthur Lowe) to Private Pike (played by Ian Lavender) in classic episodes of Dad’s Army.  Lavender, the only surviving actor of the amazing comedy cast (including John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn and Bill Pertwee) that made up the platoon brought two shows in successive years to the Edinburgh Fringe recounting stories from the show.

Highlights from the shows included when Lavender passed round the original claret-and-blue scarf he wore on the show and dismissing fables about Mesurier and Lowe’s on set working relationship.   Classic stills and clips from the show interrupted the chat and the shows were obviously aimed at fans of the legendary television comedy series.

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