Friday, 9 November 2012

Permission To Smile Sir! - Remembering Dad's Army's Clive Dunn

Pictured with Clive Dunn, 1998
My earliest memories of watching television are undoubtedly of two particular TV series, Doctor Who and Dad’s Army.

Dad’s Army particularly caught my attention as a child for some of the madcap, comic moments written for the show by Jimmy Perry and David Croft.

Of course, many of those classic comedy moments were realised on screen by Clive Dunn as Lance Corporal Jack Jones. Stranded on a tower clock, shinning up a flag pole or going underwater in a diving suit, Jones was always the first to volunteer to take part in Captain Mainwaring’s Home Guard exercises.

Clive raises a glass
with the Dad's Army crew in
the Radio Times, 1971
Watching these antics each week as a young boy I would laugh, frequently imitating Jones catchphrase “Don’t panic!” I loved watching Clive Dunn as Jonesy in Dad’s Army and his further appearances in other medium including Grandad and My Old Man. And yes I loved the record Grandad – the song he took to the top of the charts in 1970, I still have my copy in its original Columbia Records paper sleeve.

My love for Clive’s work never went away, and in 1997 I designed an interactive CD-Rom about the Dad’s Army TV series for a college project. I wrote to the surviving stars of Dad’s Army to try and get their memories of working on the show. It was with surprise a few weeks later when I got a pleasant letter from Clive Dunn residing in Portugal giving me a couple of ideas and a signed photo. I was over the moon.

Weeks later as the project drew to a close I was greeted with a pleasant surprise one morning when my letterbox went. Another signed photo from Clive, bearing the phrase Don’t Panic! – It was a good omen – I got a distinction!

As we'll remember Clive Dunn -
Lance Corporal Jones
I met Clive Dunn at a Dad’s Army event in London in 1998. It was a special moment – I thanked him for his help and the photos and shook his hand, as he signed  a copy of his autobiography for me and posed with me for a picture – taken by my wife Rachel. I always remember Rachel panicking and hoping the picture would come out!

I met Clive again briefly at the 40th anniversary Dad’s Army Appreciation Society event in 2008. He gave a memorably warm and funny tribute to the shows creators Jimmy Perry and David Croft that day.

I was sad to hear of his passing this week at the grand age of 92, I thought like many he would go on forever. In a way he will, and so will all the laughter he has created.

Clive Dunn: January 9, 1920 - November 7, 2012

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