Colin Bean

Colin Bean (15 April 1926 – 20 June 2009)[1] was an English actor, best known for his role as Private Sponge in the BBC comedy series Dad's Army.

Colin Bean
Colin Bean.jpg
Colin Bean as Private Sponge in Dad's Army
Born(1926-04-15)15 April 1926
Died20 June 2009(2009-06-20) (aged 83)
Wigan, Greater Manchester, England
OccupationActor, author
Years active1963–1988

Early lifeEdit

Born in Wigan, Lancashire, Bean's father played football for local side Wigan Borough,[2] and he attended Wigan Grammar School. Bean's first appearance had been as a shepherd in a school play, and much against paternal intentions, he took up acting professionally until being called up for national service. He served for four years in the British Army after World War II, spending some time in Japan, and taking the opportunity to continue his acting by joining the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). After graduating from drama school in 1952, he joined the Sheffield Rep as assistant stage manager; regular theatre work followed.


His work in Dad's Army came as a result of working at Watford Rep in 1962 under series co-writer Jimmy Perry as the company's actor-manager, in addition to almost 20 years of playing a pantomime dame. His role in Dad's Army started off relatively small but grew as the series progressed, in 1997 he said ‘by the time of The Miser's Hoard I’d ended up on the front row of the platoon, it was a lovely feeling. Instead of peering and smirking over Jones’ shoulder, I was on the front line. It was very satisfying.’[3] His TV appearances were varied, including Z-Cars, The Gnomes of Dulwich, The Liver Birds, 13 episodes of Michael Bentine Time,[4] Are You Being Served?, and the penultimate episode of Hi-de-Hi! (1988).

Due to his arthritis, in his later years he concentrated on his radio work. He wrote his autobiography, Who Do You Think You Are Kidding!, which was published in 1998 and went into two editions.

Though using a wheelchair in his later years, he continued to make sporadic appearances on stage in the North West of England discussing his long acting career. He was also a regular at Dad's Army reunions.[5] He continued to live in the Scholes area of his native Wigan until his death, aged 83, in Wigan Infirmary, on 20 June 2009.[6]



Year Title Role Notes
1955 Red Riding Hood King Wolf TV film
1961 Richard the Lionheart Yeoman Episode: School for a King
1963 Z Cars Mr Cowpe Episode: Members Only
1966 No Hiding Place Det Sgt Parsons Episode: It Isn’t Just The Money...
1968-77 Dad's Army Private Sponge Recurring role in 76 episodes[7]
1969 The Gnomes of Dulwich Various roles 3 episodes
1969 Gold robbers Prison Imate Episode: Dog eat Dog
1969 Harry Worth Show Policeman
1969 The Goodies Knight
1969 The First Churchills Lord Russell 2 episodes
1969 Broaden Your Mind Various roles 3 episodes
1970 Up Pompeii! Centurion
1971 Now Take My Wife Dirty Macintosh Man
1971-72 The Liver Birds First speaker/Police constable 2 episodes
1972 His Lordship Entertains Episode: The Safari Park
1972 Scott on Language Indian Chief
1973 Elementary My Dear Watson Aged newseller
1973 Michael Bentine Time Various roles 13 episodes
1973 Are You Being Served? Leatherette Gloves
1976-78 Potter’s Picture Palace Vicar 3 episodes
1976 Fallen Hero Loud Supporter
1980 Cousin Phillis Robinson
1981 Ladykillers Clerk of Court Episode: A Smile is Sometimes Worth a Million Dollars
Cribb Police constable Episode: Invitation to a Dynamite Party
1983 Crown Court Foreman of the Jury
1985 Good as Gold His Worship the Mayor TV film
1986 Jossy's Giants Episode: The Siege of St James'
1988 Hi-de-Hi! Verger


  1. ^ "Colin Bean: Actor best known for playing Private Sponge in 'Dad's Army'". The Independent. London. 29 June 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Webber, Richard (1997). Dad’s Army A Celebration. Virgin.
  4. ^ "OtherCharacters". Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  5. ^ Pearce, James. "Colin Bean : Obituary - ThisIsAnnouncements". Archived from the original on September 4, 2009. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  6. ^ "Dad's Army actor Colin Bean dies, 82". 2009-06-22. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  7. ^ The Independent obituary.

External linksEdit