Bill Pertwee

William Desmond Anthony Pertwee, MBE (21 July 1926 – 27 May 2013) was an English comedy actor. He played the role of the antagonist Chief ARP Warden Hodges in the sitcom Dad's Army.[1]

Bill Pertwee

William Desmond Anthony Pertwee

(1926-07-21)21 July 1926
Died27 May 2013(2013-05-27) (aged 86)
Cornwall, England
Years active1959–1997
Spouse(s)Marion Rose (1960–2005; her death)
ChildrenJonathan (b. 1966)
RelativesMichael Pertwee, Jon Pertwee, Sean Pertwee, Roland Pertwee (cousins)

Early life

Pertwee was born in Amersham, Buckinghamshire on 21 July 1926.[2] Born the youngest of three boys, his mother was Brazilian and his English father, James Francis Carter Pertwee, travelled the country as a salesman until he became ill and died in 1938, when Bill Pertwee was 12. The family moved home many times during Pertwee's childhood and he lived in Hereford, Glasbury, Colnbrook, Newbury, Erith, Belvedere, Blackheath, Storrington, Westcliff-on-Sea, Wilmington and Worthing.

His education was disrupted by the moves and he attended many schools including an independent convent school, a small independent school, followed by Frensham Heights School in Surrey, Dartford Technical College and Southend College.

Pertwee left school during the Second World War and worked for a company that made parts for Spitfire cannon. He was declared unfit for RAF service as he was on medication following a swimming accident, but was a member of the Air Training Corps (UK Air Cadets). He later worked as an accounts clerk at the Stock Exchange and as a salesman for the clothing retailer Burberry in London.

Entertainment career

Pertwee appeared in the radio comedy series Beyond Our Ken (1959–1964) and Round the Horne (1965–1967) and The Navy Lark.[1] He was also a warm-up act for many television shows.

His most prominent role was that of ARP Warden Hodges in Dad's Army, which he played in both the original television series from 1968 to 1977, and the radio adaptations, as well as the radio sequel It Sticks Out Half a Mile, set after the war. Pertwee was president of the Dad's Army Appreciation Society and the author of the book Dad's Army – The Making of a Television Legend.

In July 2008 he and other surviving members of the Dad's Army cast gathered together at the Imperial War Museum on the 40th anniversary of the show's first broadcast in 1968.[3] He also made appearances on This Morning. In 1975 Bill Pertwee took part in the Dad's Army stage show and with Norman Macleod released the Dad's Army single "Get Out And Get Under The Moon", with Pertwee's B-side song "Hooligans" on EMI.

Pertwee appeared in two Carry On filmsCarry On Loving (1970) and Carry On Girls (1973). His appearance in Carry On at Your Convenience (1971) was cut from the final film. His other film appearances include The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971), Psychomania (1973), as postmen in the film versions of Love Thy Neighbour and Man About the House, Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975), What's Up Nurse! (1977) and What's Up Superdoc! (1978).

On television Pertwee appeared in the final episode of It Ain't Half Hot Mum (1981) and an episode of Hi-de-Hi! (1986). He played PC Wilson in You Rang, M'Lord? (1988–1993), another creation of Jimmy Perry and David Croft.

The subject of This Is Your Life In 1999, Pertwee was surprised by Michael Aspel at the Imperial War Museum. In 2006, he performed in the World Cup song, Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Jurgen Klinsmann?

Pertwee died aged 86 on 27 May 2013.[4] He had been ill since the previous year and died peacefully at his home in Cornwall. Three days previously he had attended a parade in Thetford (home of the Dad's Army Museum) where spectators and museum volunteers remarked how frail he was looking. His death and that of Pamela Cundell in 2015 leaves only two main surviving Dad's Army cast members: Ian Lavender, who played Private Pike, and Frank Williams, who played the vicar.

In 2011 a portrait of Pertwee, painted by a local artist, was unveiled in the Dad's Army Museum, Thetford where it now resides. Pertwee was patron of the museum and of the DAAS (Dad's Army Appreciation Society) until his death.

Personal life

Pertwee married Marion Macleod, sister of John and Norman Macleod of the Maple Leaf Four, in 1956.[5] They had a son, Jonathan James Pertwee (born in 1966), who has appeared in various TV programmes.[6]

Following the death of his wife, he lived in Topsham, Devon. He was awarded an MBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list for his services to charity. He was vice-president of the "Railway Ramblers"[7] and a member of the executive committee of the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund ('The Royal Variety Charity') and was initiated in 1976 as a member of the Grand Order of Water Rats.[8]

Pertwee's brother James Raymond "Jiggy" Pertwee was an RAF Whitley Bomber pilot who was killed in a crash on a hillside close to a disused quarry above Bank Foot, Ingleby Greenhow, following a leaflet drop over Dortmund, Germany, in June 1941.[9]

He was related to Michael Pertwee and Jon Pertwee, being a second cousin of Michael's and Jon's father, the screenwriter and actor Roland Pertwee.[10] He was godfather to one of the sons of his Dad's Army co-star Ian Lavender.



1970Carry On LovingBarman
1971Dad's ArmyARP Warden Hodges
1971The Magnificent Seven Deadly SinsCockney Man(segment "Lust")
1971Carry On at Your ConvenienceManager of Whippit Inn(scenes deleted)
1973Love Thy NeighbourPostman
1973Carry On GirlsFire Chief
1974Man About the HousePostman
1975Confessions of a Pop PerformerHusband with javelin
1977What's Up Nurse!Flash Harry Harrison
1978What's Up Superdoc!Woodie
2012Run for Your Wife1st man getting off bus(final film role)


1968-1977Dad's ArmyARP Warden HodgesRecurring role, 60 episodes
1969Two in CloverPoliceman5 episodes
1973SykesEpisode: Protest
1984-1986Chance in a MillionSergeant Gough6 episodes
1987Edward and FriendsVoice9 episodes
1988-1993You Rang, M'Lord?P.C.Wilson26 episodes
1990Fred The Steam FugitiveMr JenkinsTime to Go TV short
1994Woof!ArthurEpisode: Getting up Steam


1971, 1972The Motorway MenReg Ponsonby8 episodes + pilot


  1. Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 370. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
  2. "Dad's Army star Bill Pertwee dies aged 86", BBC News, 27 May 2013
  3. Martin, Nicole (9 July 2008). "Dad's Army's Ian Lavender criticises falling TV standards". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  4. "Bill Pertwee, star of Dad's Army, dies aged 86". The Guardian. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  5. Marion Pertwee in Memoriam 2005 Archived 30 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Bill Pertwee (1996). A funny way to make a living!-An Autobiography. Sunburst Books. ISBN 1-85778-268-2.
  7. "Railway Ramblers". Railway Ramblers. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  8. "Biography of a Water Rat".
  9. Reading Room Manchester. "Casualty Details". CWGC. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  10. "Bill Pertwee: Actor best known for his role as the curmudgeonly Warden Hodges in Dad's Army", The Independent, 28 May 2013. Accessed 28 May 2013
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