Arthur Ian Lavender (16 February 1946 – 2 February 2024) was an English stage, film and television actor. He is best known for his role as Private Pike in Dad's Army, a BBC sitcom set during World War II, of which he was the last surviving main cast member.

Ian Lavender
Lavender in 2011
Born
Arthur Ian Lavender

(1946-02-16)16 February 1946
Birmingham, England
Died2 February 2024(2024-02-02) (aged 77)
OccupationActor
Years active1967–2019
Spouses
Suzanne Kerchiss
(m. 1967; div. 1976)
Miki Hardy
(m. 1993)
Children2

Early life edit

Arthur Ian Lavender was born to Edward and Kathleen (nee Johnson) Lavender[1] in Birmingham, England on 16 February 1946.[2] He attended Bournville Boys Technical School (later Bournville Grammar-Technical School for Boys) where he appeared in many school dramatic productions. From there he went to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, with the assistance of a grant from the City of Birmingham. Following his graduation in 1967 he appeared on stage in Canterbury.[3]

Career edit

His first television appearance was as the lead in a Rediffusion play entitled Half Hour Story: Flowers at my Feet in 1968.[4]

Dad's Army edit

In 1968, aged 22, Lavender was cast as Private Frank Pike, the youngest member and "stupid boy" of the platoon in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army. This made him a household name and gave him the great advantage of working alongside a number of experienced actors during his formative years, helping him to hone his acting skills. [5] He appeared in the entire run of the series, and in the spinoff film released in 1971. He appeared in 1974 in one episode of Man About the House (While The Cat's Away) as Mark, an aspiring actor consumed by his own vanity.[6] He reprised the part of Pike in the BBC Radio sitcom It Sticks Out Half a Mile. The sitcom was a radio sequel to Dad's Army, but ran for only one series.[7]

Lavender continued to be associated with Dad's Army, and took part in occasional fan conventions and cast reunions. He made a variety of appearances during 2008 in connection with the 40th anniversary of the series. These included a reunion with surviving cast members in July 2008,[8] and an appearance on BBC1's Jonathan Ross Salutes Dad's Army in August.[9]

Lavender also recorded a special introduction for the 'lost' colour episode of Dad's Army entitled "Room at the Bottom", which was broadcast on 13 December 2008.[10] In 2014 Lavender appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in a show with Steven McNicoll entitled Don't tell him, Pike!, in which Lavender talked about his time on Dad's Army and the subsequent effect it had on his career.[11]

Lavender made a cameo appearance as Brigadier Pritchard in the 2016 Dad's Army film, providing a link with the original series.[12][a]

In 2022, after the death of Frank Williams,[13] Lavender became the last surviving member of the main cast.[14]

After Dad's Army edit

After Dad's Army, Lavender returned to the theatre, including a role in a production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.[15] Between 1971 and 1973 Lavender joined Dad's Army colleague Arthur Lowe on the BBC radio comedy Parsley Sidings.[16] He was in a BBC radio comedy series, a spin-off from Dad's Army called It Sticks Out Half a Mile.[17] Lavender also appeared in films and television series, one of which (Mr Big, 1977) featured him starring alongside Peter Jones and Prunella Scales.[14] During the 1970s he appeared as a supporting actor in a number of British 'low farce' films, including one Carry On film – Carry On Behind (1975).[18]

Lavender was reunited with producer David Croft[19] for the television series Come Back Mrs. Noah[20] (1977–78, co-written by Croft with Jeremy Lloyd), though it was unsuccessful. A revival of The Glums (1978–79), at first as part of a Bruce Forsyth variety series, proved rather more satisfactory, being adapted from scripts for the 1950s radio series Take It From Here that were written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden.[21]

Lavender then appeared in several other television comedy shows during the 1980s, including two episodes of Yes Minister, and a lead role in the short-lived The Hello Goodbye Man (1984). He also appeared on ITV's television game show Cluedo (1990), based on the board game. During the 1980s Lavender continued to appear occasionally in television comedy roles including a bit-part as a burglar alarm salesman in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. He made an appearance in Goodnight Sweetheart as two different parallel universe versions of the time-travelling lead character's son Michael. He also provided the lead voice of BBC children's animation PC Pinkerton in 1988.[14]

In 2001 Lavender joined the BBC soap opera EastEnders, playing the role of Derek Harkinson, a gay friend of Pauline Fowler. He continued in EastEnders for four years, with storylines mainly involving the Fowler family, before leaving the serial in 2005.[22] On 4 November 2016, it was announced that Lavender would make a brief return to the show.[23]

Lavender then toured with The Rocky Horror Show musical, playing the Narrator. He also played the part of a patient in the 5 May 2007 episode of Casualty on BBC. In late 2007, he toured in the comedy play Donkey's Years. In May 2008, Lavender appeared in the BBC documentary series Comedy Map of Britain.[24]

Over Christmas 2008, Lavender appeared in Celebrity Mastermind.[25] As presenter John Humphrys asked his name, fellow contestant Rick Wakeman shouted 'Don't tell him, Pike!', a reference to Captain Mainwaring's most famous line from Dad's Army. At the start of 2009, Lavender appeared as a guest character in an episode of the CBBC sitcom, The Legend of Dick and Dom.[26] Lavender starred in the film, 31 North 62 East (released September 2009), an independent psychological thriller starring John Rhys-Davies, Marina Sirtis, Heather Peace and Craig Fairbrass.[27]

Lavender appeared as Monsignor Howard in the West End theatre production of Sister Act the Musical. The musical opened at the London Palladium on 2 June 2009, and ran through to October 2010.[28] In January 2011, Lavender appeared at the Slapstick Silent Comedy Festival in Bristol. Lavender introduced Sherlock Jr., a 1924 silent film directed by and starring Buster Keaton.[29]

In early 2013, Lavender appeared as The Mikado in three concert performances of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, taking place in The Royal Festival Hall, London, the Symphony Hall, Birmingham and the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.[30] In August 2013 he made his Edinburgh Fringe debut in a stage version of The Shawshank Redemption.[31]

In November 2014, Lavender made a cameo appearance in the film remake Dad's Army directed by Oliver Parker, released in February 2016.[32] In February 2015 he was a recipient of one of The Oldie magazine's "Oldie of the Year Awards" – specifically the "Stupid Oldie Boy of the Year".[33]

On 9 May 2015, Lavender gave a reading at VE Day 70: A Party to Remember in Horse Guards Parade, London that was broadcast live on BBC1.[34]

In 2017, Lavender appeared alongside Rula Lenska, Johnny Ball, Judith Chalmers and Diana Moran in the reality show A Celebrity Taste Of Italy for Channel 5. During filming he fell ill with sepsis, and spent some time in an Italian hospital before returning to the UK to recuperate.[4]

In 2019, Lavender appeared alongside Maureen Beattie, Jonathan Harden, Helen Vine and Rosin Rae in the mental health radio monologue series Talking Taboos, produced by Vine.[35]

Personal life edit

Lavender was first married to actress Suzanne Kerchiss. They had two sons, Sam and Daniel. He married his second wife, Michele (Miki) Hardy, in 1993.[14] Lavender was a bladder cancer survivor,[36] and also survived a heart attack in the summer of 2004.[37] He was colourblind.[38]

Lavender grew up supporting Aston Villa.[39][40] When filming began on Dad's Army, he was allowed to choose Pike's scarf from an array in the BBC wardrobe. He chose a claret and blue scarf (the colours of Aston Villa) to remind him of his home city.[41] He was a big cricket fan.[42] On 22 June 2015, Lavender was awarded a star on the Birmingham Walk of Stars.[43]

Lavender died on 2 February 2024, at the age of 77. His death was announced three days later.[44]

Filmography edit

Film edit

Year Title Role Ref.
1971 Dad's Army Private Pike [35]
1975 Three for All Carlo [45]
Confessions of a Pop Performer Rodney [46]
Carry On Behind Joe Baxter [47]
1976 Not Now, Comrade Gerry Buss [48]
Adventures of a Taxi Driver Ronald [49]
1977 Adventures of a Private Eye Derek [49]
2009 31 North 62 East John Mandelson [27]
2014 The Hooligan Factory Granddad Albert [49]
2016 Dad's Army Brigadier Pritchard [49]

Television edit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1968–1977 Dad's Army Private Pike 80 episodes [49]
1974 Man About the House Mark Episode: "While the Cat's Away" [49]
1975 Rising Damp Platt Episode: "Stand Up and Be Counted" [49]
1977–1978 Come Back Mrs. Noah Clive Cuncliffe 6 episodes [49]
1978–1979 The Glums Ron Glum 8 episodes [49]
1982 Yes Minister Dr Richard Cartwright 2 episodes [49]
1984 The Hello Goodbye Man Denis Ailing 6 episodes [49]
1995 Keeping Up Appearances Security Representative Episode: "Hyacinth Is Alarmed" [49]
1998 Goodnight Sweetheart Michael Sparrow Episode: "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" [49]
1999; 2007; 2008 Casualty Benny Jenkins/Gordon Cunningham 4 episodes [9]
2001–2005,
2016–2017
EastEnders Derek Harkinson 240 episodes [22]
2014 Stella Keith Jackson 1 episode [49]

Radio edit

References edit

Footnotes

  1. ^ Frank Williams reprised his role as Reverend Timothy Farthing - thus making him and Lavender the only two actors from the original series to appear in the film.

Citations

  1. ^ Dixon, Stephen (5 February 2024). "Ian Lavender obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 February 2024.
  2. ^ GRO Register of Births: MAR 1946 6d 813 BIRMINGHAM – Arthur I. Lavender, mmn = Johnson
  3. ^ "Ian Lavender". The Bolton News. 8 March 2002. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b Braxton, Mark (27 July 2018). ""If this lot can get on, we could have a hit on our hands" – Ian Lavender looks back on the making of Dad's Army". Radio Times. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  5. ^ Buxkton, Olivia (17 August 2019). "Dad's Army Private Pike: 'I've always been a stupid boy'". Daily Express. Archived from the original on 12 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  6. ^ McCaighey, Mark (2015). The Dad's Army Movie Dossier: The Making of Jimmy Perry and David Croft's Classic Film. Andrews UK Limited. ISBN 9781785381430.
  7. ^ "It Sticks Out Half A Mile – Media Centre". BBC Media Centre. BBC. 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  8. ^ "Dad's Army star slams current TV". bbc.co.uk. 10 July 2008. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  9. ^ a b "I'd be a fool to have regrets – Ian Lavender obituary". BBC News. 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  10. ^ "'Lost' Dad's Army show back on TV". bbc.co.uk. 12 July 2008. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  11. ^ "Ian Lavender: "Dad's Army cost me a career in movies". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Archived from the original on 25 March 2023. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  12. ^ Furness, Hannah (21 November 2014). "Pictured: Ian Lavender plays cameo role in new Dad's Army film". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  13. ^ Michael Coveney (26 June 2022). "Frank Williams obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  14. ^ a b c d "Ian Lavender obituary". The Guardian. 5 February 2024. Archived from the original on 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  15. ^ "Dad's Army actor Ian LAvender who played Private Pike dies". Sky News. Archived from the original on 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  16. ^ a b "Parsley Sidings". BBC. Archived from the original on 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  17. ^ "Last surviving Dad's Army star Ian Lavender dies aged 77". 5 February 2024. Archived from the original on 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  18. ^ "Ian Lavender from Dad's Army dies age 77". Bracknell News. 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  19. ^ "Come Back Mrs. Noah". BBC Guide to Comedy. Archived from the original on 5 April 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  20. ^ "Dad's Army legend Ian Lavender dies aged 77". British Comedy Guide. 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  21. ^ "The Glums". British Comedy Guide. Archived from the original on 11 November 2022. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  22. ^ a b "Eastenders-Character-Derek Harkinson". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 September 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  23. ^ "Ian Lavender to return as Derek Harkinson". EastEnders News & Spoilers. 3 November 2016. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Comedy Map of Britain". BBC. Archived from the original on 21 May 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  25. ^ "Dad's Army star Ian Lavender dies aged 77". The Daily Telegraph. 5 February 2024. Archived from the original on 6 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  26. ^ "Rock Hard". BBC. Archived from the original on 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  27. ^ a b "31 North 62 East – Cast". 31north62east.com. 2008. Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  28. ^ "Sheila Hancock, Patina Miller cast in Sister Act". London Theatre Guide. 29 January 2009. Archived from the original on 21 June 2023. Retrieved 22 February 2009.
  29. ^ "Bristol's annual Slapstick festival returns in January, and once again it promises to be a rib-tickling, heart-warming, star-studded event full of classic comedy and live entertainment". This is Bristol. 9 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  30. ^ "Edge Magazine". Edgemagazine.org. Archived from the original on 14 April 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  31. ^ "Media Release: The Shawshank Redemption – Ian Lavender to make Fringe debut". Allmediascotland.com. Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  32. ^ "Dad's Army (2016)". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on 27 January 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  33. ^ "Spectator Blog". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  34. ^ Cole, Paul (13 September 2015). "Dad's Army legend Ian Lavender joins celebrities at this year's Pride of Birmingham Award". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 2 August 2021. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  35. ^ a b "Dad's Army star Ian Lavender dies aged 77". Wales Online. 5 February 2024. Archived from the original on 6 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  36. ^ "Be Clear on Cancer: 'blood in pee' campaign returns". www.gov.uk. 16 February 2016. Archived from the original on 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  37. ^ "Celebrity Health – Ian Lavender". bbc.co.uk. 8 January 2007. Archived from the original on 11 January 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  38. ^ Roz Laws (27 November 2014). "What has happened to Private Pike's Aston Villa scarf?". The Mirror. Archived from the original on 21 December 2023. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  39. ^ "Birmingham Walk of Stars award for Dad's Army star Ian Lavender". bbc.co.uk. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  40. ^ "Dad's Army marched with a passion for cricket". Birmingham Mail. 9 January 2014. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  41. ^ Laws, Roz (27 November 2014). "Dad's Army film: Ian Lavender reveals shock that Private Pike's scarf is not in Aston Villa colours". Daily Mirror. (Trinity Mirror). Archived from the original on 21 June 2023. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  42. ^ "Obituary: Ian Lavender". BBC News. 5 February 2024. Archived from the original on 6 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  43. ^ Whitehead, Richard (1 September 2008). "The soul of Aston Villa in 50 moments, page 9". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 18 September 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  44. ^ "Ian Lavender: Dad's Army star dies aged 77". BBC News. 5 February 2024. Archived from the original on 5 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  45. ^ "Collections Search | BFI | British Film Institute". Archived from the original on 5 January 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  46. ^ "Collections Search | BFI | British Film Institute". Archived from the original on 6 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  47. ^ "Collections Search | BFI | British Film Institute". Archived from the original on 6 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  48. ^ "Collections Search | BFI | British Film Institute". Archived from the original on 2 February 2024. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  49. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Ian Lavender". British Comedy Guide. Archived from the original on 4 September 2023. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  50. ^ "Saturday-Night Theatre: Rookery Nook". BBC Genome. Archived from the original on 12 February 2023. Retrieved 12 February 2023.

External links edit