Natural comic actor most famous for his role in 'Dad's Army'

Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 00:00

Clive Dunn BornJanuary 9th, 1920 DiedNovember 6th, 2012

Clive Dunn was a natural comic actor, famous for his role as the bumbling butcher Lance-Corporal Jack (“Don’t panic”) Jones in the huge TV hit comedy series Dad’s Army.

Dunn, in theatrical terms, was old before his time. Even at the age of 19 he played a doddering old man in JM Barrie’s whimsical play Mary Rose for a weekly repertory company in Abergavenny. Throughout his successful career, he was regularly cast in such roles.

But acting was not his only forte. As a singer, he performed a number-one hit, Grandad, which he sang four times on Top of the Pops. Following that success, he released several other singles.

Dunn, a socialist, had occasional off-air clashes with the late Arthur Lowe, who played the pompous Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army and was an active conservative.

Clive Robert Benjamin Dunn was born on January 9th, 1920, in London’s Covent Garden area. He attended Sevenoaks boarding school for boys, which he hated, and later studied at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

He played small film roles from the 1930s onwards, appearing alongside Will Hay in Boys Will Be Boys (1935) and Good Morning, Boys (1937).

He served with the British army during the second World War, spending four years in prisoner-of-war and labour camps in Austria.

Dunn worked for many years in music halls and theatres. In 1956 and 1957, he appeared in both series of The Tony Hancock Show and the army reunion party episode of Hancock’s Half Hour in 1960. He won the role of Jones in Dad’s Army in 1968.

In 1959, he married the actor Priscilla (Cilla) Pughe Morgan and they had two daughters.

In 1986, he wrote his engaging autobiography, Permission to Speak, another of his Dad’s Army catchphrases.

He was to spend his last 30 or so years in Portugal, where he occupied himself as an artist, painting portraits, landscapes and seascapes, until his sight failed.