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Clive Dunn

Clive Dunn in Surprise Attack (1951) film.png
Clive Robert Benjamin Dunn

(1920-01-09)9 January 1920
Brixton,[1] London, England
Died6 November 2012(2012-11-06) (aged 92)
Faro, Algarve, Portugal
EducationSevenoaks School
Alma materItalia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • author
  • singer
Years active1935–84
Known forLance Corporal Jones
Notable work
See below
TelevisionDad's Army
RelativesGretchen Franklin (cousin)
Military career
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Armoured Corps, British Army
Unit4th Queen's Own Hussars
Battles/warsBattle of Greece

Clive Robert Benjamin Dunn OBE (9 January 1920 – 6 November 2012) was an English actor, comedian, artist, author, and singer. He played the elderly Lance Corporal Jones in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army.[2]

Early life

Born in Brixton, South London, Dunn was the son of actor parents, and the cousin of actress Gretchen Franklin. Dunn was educated at Sevenoaks School, an independent school for boys (now co-educational). After leaving school, Dunn studied at the independent Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, in London.

He had a few small film roles in the 1930s. While still attending school, he appeared with Will Hay in the films Boys Will Be Boys (1935), and Good Morning, Boys (1937). In 1939, he was the stage manager for a touring production entitled The Unseen Menace. However, the detective play was not a success because the billed star of the show, Terence De Marney, did not appear on stage and his dialogue was supplied by a gramophone recording.[2]

Military service

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Dunn joined the British Army in 1940. He served as a trooper in the 4th Queen's Own Hussars.[3] The regiment was posted to the Middle East arriving on 31 December 1940[4] and as part of the 1st Armoured Brigade in the 6th Australian Infantry Division which fought in the Greek Campaign.[5] Dunn fought in the rearguard action at the Corinth canal in April 1941. The regiment was forced to surrender after it was overrun and Dunn was among 400 men (including all the regiment's senior officers) who were taken as prisoners of war.[5]

Dunn was held as a POW in Austria for the next four years. He remained in the army after the war ended, until finally demobilised in 1947.[2]

Acting career

Dunn resumed his acting career in repertory theatre. But he soon made his first television appearance.[2] In 1951 he appeared as the man in the pub in Surprise Attack, a short film produced by the Crown Film Unit and commissioned by the Ministry of Health.[6]

In 1956 and 1957, Dunn appeared in both series of The Tony Hancock Show and the army reunion party episode of Hancock's Half Hour in 1960. In the 1960s, he made many appearances with Tony Hancock, Michael Bentine, Dora Bryan and Dick Emery, among others, before winning the role of Jones in Dad's Army in 1968.

From early in his career, his trademark character was that of a doddering old man. This first made an impression in the show Bootsie and Snudge, a spin-off from The Army Game. Dunn played the old dogsbody Mr. Johnson at a slightly seedy gentlemen's club where the characters Pte. "Bootsie" Bisley (Alfie Bass) and Sgt. Claude Snudge (Bill Fraser) find work after leaving the Army. In the early 1960s he made regular appearances on It's a Square World, including as the first parody of Doctor Who on New Year's Eve 1963.

In 1967, he made a guest appearance in an episode of The Avengers, playing the proprietor of a toy shop in "Something Nasty in the Nursery".

At 48 Dunn was one of the younger members of the Dad's Army cast when he took on the role of the elderly butcher whose military service in earlier wars made him the most experienced member of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard, as well as one of the most decrepit. Jack Haig and David Jason had previously been considered for the role.[7] His relative youth, compared with most of the cast, meant that he was handed much of the physical comedy in the show, of which many of the other cast members were no longer capable.

Dunn's staunch socialist beliefs often caused him to fall out with Arthur Lowe, who played Captain Mainwaring and who was an active Conservative. When Dunn was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1975, it was reported that Lowe would only accept a higher-rated honour from the Queen.[8]

After Dad's Army ended, Dunn capitalised on his skill in playing elderly character roles by playing the lead character Charlie Quick, in the slapstick children's TV series Grandad, from 1979 to 1984 (he played the caretaker at a village hall, and sang the lyrics in the theme).[9] He had previously had a number one hit single with the song "Grandad" on his 51st birthday in January 1971, accompanied by a children's choir. The song was written by bassist Herbie Flowers. He performed the song four times on Top of the Pops. The B-side of "Grandad", "I Play The Spoons", also received considerable airplay. After cancellation of Grandad in 1984, he retired to Portugal.[10] Following the success of the "Grandad" record, Dunn released several other singles, but never hit the charts again.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1971, when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews.

Personal life

He married fashion model Patricia Kenyon in London in 1951.[11] The couple divorced in 1958.[2] He married actress Priscilla Pughe-Morgan (born 14 January 1934)[12] in June 1959.[13] They had two daughters, Polly and Jessica.

A 2006 article described Dunn as having eye trouble and sometimes being unable to see, but otherwise appearing to be in good health.[14] In August 2008, he recorded a message for the programme Jonathan Ross Salutes Dad's Army, which was shown to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Dad's Army.

He spent the last three decades of his life in the Algarve, Portugal, and occupied himself as an artist, painting portraits, landscapes and seascapes, until his sight failed.[15]

Dunn was a supporter of the Labour Party. He claimed his outspoken socialist beliefs often caused conflict with his Dad's Army co-star, Arthur Lowe, who was a staunch conservative. As a schoolboy, he and his classmates briefly joined the British Union of Fascists, but Dunn left the party once he learned of its anti-Semitic ideology.[16]


Dunn died in Portugal on 6 November 2012 as a result of complications from an operation that had taken place earlier that week. His agent, Peter Charlesworth, said the star would be "sorely missed" and that his death was "a real loss to the acting profession".[15][17] His death, and those of Bill Pertwee in 2013 and Pamela Cundell in 2015, leaves only two surviving major cast members from Dad's Army: Ian Lavender and Frank Williams, the former of whom is the only surviving cast member to have played a character in the platoon.

Frank Williams, who played the Vicar in Dad's Army, said Dunn was always "great fun" to be around. "Of course he was so much younger than the part he played," he told BBC Radio Four. "It's very difficult to think of him as an old man really, but he was a wonderful person to work with – great sense of humour, always fun, a great joy really."[18]

Ian Lavender, who played Private Pike in the show, said: "Out of all of us he had the most time for the fans. Everyone at one time or another would be tempted to duck into a doorway or bury their head in a paper; but not Clive, he always made time for fans."[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1935 Boys Will Be Boys Schoolboy watching rugby Uncredited
1937 Good Morning, Boys Minor role Uncredited
1938 A Yank at Oxford Minor role Uncredited
1939 Goodbye, Mr. Chips Youth Uncredited
1949 The Hasty Heart MacDougall Uncredited
1949 Boys in Brown Holdup Man Uncredited
1957 Treasure Island Ben Gunn
1959 The Treasure of San Teresa Cemetery keeper
1961 What a Whopper Mr. Slate
1962 She'll Have to Go Chemist
1962 The Fast Lady Old Gentleman in Burning House
1963 The Mouse on the Moon Bandleader
1965 You Must Be Joking! Doorman
1967 Just like a Woman Graff von Fischer
1967 The Mini-Affair Tyson
1968 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia Doctor
1968 The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom Dr. Zimmerman
1969 Crooks and Coronets Basil
1969 The Magic Christian Sommelier
1971 Dad's Army L.Cpl. Jack Jones
1980 The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu Keeper of the Keys – London Tower

Television roles

Year Title Role Notes
1960–63 Bootsie and Snudge Henry Johnson
1963 It's a Square World various
1968 Inside George Webley Ticket collector 1 episode
1968–77 Dad's Army Lance-Corporal Jack Jones
1970 Here Come the Double Deckers! Hodge
1974–75 My Old Man Sam Cobbett
1979–84 Grandad Charlie Quick


  • Such a Beauty / Too Old , Parlophone, 1962
  • "Grandad" / "I Play the Spoons", Columbia, 1970 (reached No. 1 in the UK in January 1971)
  • "My Lady (Nana)" / "Tissue Paper & Comb", Columbia, 1971
  • "Wonderful Lilly" / "Pretty Little Song", Columbia, 1972
  • "Let's Take A Walk" / "Tell Us", Columbia, 1972
  • "Our Song" / "She's Gone", EMI, 1973
  • "Grandad" / "My Lady (Nana)" (reissue), EMI, 1973
  • "My Old Man" / "My Own Special Girl", EMI, 1974
  • "Holding On" / "My Beautiful England", Reprise, 1976
  • "Goodnight Ruby" / "Thank You and Goodnight", Decca, 1977
  • "Thinking of You This Christmas" / "'Arry 'Arry 'Arry", Sky Records, 1978
  • "There Ain't Much Change From A Pound These Days" / "After All These Years" (with John Le Mesurier), KA Records, 1982.
  • "Grandad" (reissue) / "There's No-One Quite Like Grandma", EMI, 1988.


  • Permission to Speak: an autobiography (1986).[19]
  • Permission to Laugh: my favourite funny stories (1996).[20]


  1. ^ Dennis Barker. "Clive Dunn obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Clive Dunn. Telegraph (7 November 2012). Retrieved on 4 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Clive Dunn Obituary". BBC News. 8 November 2012.
  4. ^ "War Diary of the 4th Hussars in 1940". Archived from the original on 6 January 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b "History: 4th Queen's Own Hussars". Queen's Royal Hussars Association. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Surprise Attack (1951)". BFI. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  7. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  8. ^ Graham McCann "Dad's Army, The Story of a Classic Television Show" ISBN 1-84115-309-5
  9. ^ "Clive Dunn; Grandad episode part 1". Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  10. ^ Permission to Speak, Sir? Saga magazine (February 1992) accessed 15 February 2007
  11. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: SEP 1951 5c 2884 KENSINGTON – Robert B. Dunn = Patricia Kenyon
  12. ^ "Researcha". Retrieved 3 August 2011.[dead link]
  13. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: JUN 1959 9c 1654 STRATFORD – Robert B. Dunn = Priscilla M. Pughe-Morgan.
  14. ^ "Don't panic, Arthur!". iccoventry. Retrieved 26 January 2006.
  15. ^ a b Haynes, Jonathan (7 November 2012). "Dad's Army actor Clive Dunn dies". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  16. ^ "Obituary: Clive Dunn". 7 November 2012.
  17. ^ "The Passing Away of Clive Dunn by Lifestyle Uncut". Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  18. ^ a b "BBC News – Clive Dunn, Dad's Army actor, dies aged 92". 8 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  19. ^ "Permission to speak: an autobiography / Clive Dunn". British Library. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  20. ^ "Permission to laugh: my favourite funny stories / Clive Dunn; illustrations by Jessica Dunn". British Library. Retrieved 4 February 2013.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 May 2021, at 15:03
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