Clive Dunn

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]

Clive Dunn

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
Years active1935–84
Known forLance Corporal Jones
Notable work
See below
TelevisionDad's Army
  • Patricia Kenyon (m. 1951–1958, divorced)
  • Priscilla Morgan (m. 1959–2012, his death)
RelativesGretchen Franklin (cousin)
Military career
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Armoured Corps, British Army
Unit4th Queen's Own Hussars
Battles/warsBattle of Greece

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. However, the regiment was forced to surrender after it was overrun. 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, and was 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 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 on 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 sixties he also 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.[6] His relative youth, compared with most of the cast, meant that he was handed much of the physical comedy in the show, which many of the other cast members were no longer capable of.

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.[7]

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).[8] He had previously had a number one hit single with the song "Grandad" on his fifty-first 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 the cancellation of Grandad in 1984, he disappeared from the screen, and retired to Portugal.[9] Following the success of the "Grandad" record, Dunn released several other singles, but Dunn 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.[10] The couple divorced in 1958.[2] He married actress Priscilla Pughe-Morgan (born 14 January 1934)[11] in June 1959.[12] 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.[13] 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.

Dunn's cousin Gretchen Franklin was a television actress, best remembered as Ethel Skinner in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Dunn inherited a share in her estate upon her death in 2005.[14]

He spent the last three decades of his life in the Algarve, Portugal.[14] He occupied himself as an artist painting portraits, landscapes and seascapes until his sight failed.[15]

Dunn was a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party. His outspoken socialist beliefs often caused him to feud with his long time Dad's Army co-star, Arthur Lowe, who was a Conservative.


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][16] 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."[17]

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."[17]



1935Boys Will Be BoysSchoolboy watching rugbyUncredited
1937Good Morning, BoysMinor roleUncredited
1938A Yank at OxfordMinor roleUncredited
1939Goodbye, Mr. ChipsYouthUncredited
1949The Hasty HeartMacDougallUncredited
1949Boys in BrownHoldup ManUncredited
1957Treasure IslandBen Gunn
1959The Treasure of San TeresaCemetery keeper
1961What a WhopperMr. Slate
1962She'll Have to GoChemist
1962The Fast LadyOld Gentleman in Burning House
1963The Mouse on the MoonBandleader
1965You Must Be Joking!Doorman
1967Just like a WomanGraff von Fischer
1967The Mini-AffairTyson
196830 Is a Dangerous Age, CynthiaDoctor
1968The Bliss of Mrs. BlossomDr. Zimmerman
1969Crooks and CoronetsBasil
1969The Magic ChristianSommelier
1971Dad's ArmyL.Cpl. Jack Jones
1980The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu ManchuKeeper of the Keys – London Tower

Television roles

1960–63Bootsie and SnudgeHenry Johnson
1963It's a Square Worldvarious
1968–77Dad's ArmyLance-Corporal Jack Jones
1970Here Come the Double Deckers!Hodge
1974–75My Old ManSam Cobbett
1979–84GrandadCharlie Quick


  • "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).[18]
  • Permission to Laugh: my favourite funny stories (1996).[19]


  1. Dennis Barker. "Clive Dunn obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  2. 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. "History: 4th Queen's Own Hussars". Queen’s Royal Hussars Association. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  6. Video on YouTube
  7. Graham McCann "Dad's Army, The Story of a Classic Television Show" ISBN 1-84115-309-5
  8. "Clive Dunn; Grandad episode part 1". Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  9. Permission to Speak, Sir? Saga magazine (February 1992) accessed 15 February 2007
  10. GRO Register of Marriages: SEP 1951 5c 2884 KENSINGTON – Robert B. Dunn = Patricia Kenyon
  11. "Researcha". Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  12. GRO Register of Marriages: JUN 1959 9c 1654 STRATFORD – Robert B. Dunn = Priscilla M. Pughe-Morgan.
  13. "Don't panic, Arthur!". iccoventry. Retrieved 26 January 2006.
  14. EastEnder Ethel leaves £200,000 to elderly, Daily Mail, accessed 3 March 2007
  15. Haynes, Jonathan (7 November 2012). "Dad's Army actor Clive Dunn dies". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  16. "The Passing Away of Clive Dunn by Lifestyle Uncut". Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  17. "BBC News – Clive Dunn, Dad's Army actor, dies aged 92". 8 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  18. "Permission to speak: an autobiography / Clive Dunn". British Library. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  19. "Permission to laugh: my favourite funny stories / Clive Dunn; illustrations by Jessica Dunn". British Library. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
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