Dad’s Armys John Laurie and Arnold Ridley historic rivalry exposed ‘Different characters’
Dad's Army: Co-star on John Laurie and Arnold Ridley's 'rivalry'
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The Secret Lives of Dad’s Army first premiered on Channel 5, giving fans an insight into what it was like to work on the show and with the actors. Known as the magnificent seven, an unlikely group of men were thrown together to create one of Britain’s best-loved comedies on the BBC – Dad’s Army. However, it wasn’t always happy families when it came to working together, as the show explained that John Laurie and Arnold Ridley didn’t always see eye to eye.
A voiceover introduced John Laurie: “John Laurie had a reputation for occasionally being as prickly as his on-screen character.”
Jerry McCann, author of Dad’s Army: The Story of a Very British Comedy, said: “John Laurie was cantankerous he was rather mischievous, he was someone who enjoyed playing a kind of a professional pessimist.”
Laurie and Arnold Ridley, who played Private Godfrey, were very different characters and Michael Knowles, a cast member from 1969 to 1972, spoke about their rivalry.
Michael began: “There was a bit of rivalry between the two of them because John Laurie was very fit.”
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“If he ever saw Arnold Ridley sit down, he would rush off and try and pick something up and lug it past Ridley saying, ‘don’t you worry son, you just sit there I’ll get on with this’.”
Arnold Ridley’s son Nicholas thought they learned to tolerate each other, explaining: “I think they had very different attitudes to being older,
“I think that John Laurie probably had a little bit of fun at my father’s expense.
“[And] my father didn’t worry about that at all,” he explained.
John and Arnold weren’t the only cast members who didn’t see eye to eye, as there was tension on the set between Arthur Lowe and Clive Dunn.
Emma Kennedy, a comedy writer, said in the Channel 5 documentary: “The thing that is so fascinating about the Arthur Lowe and Clive Dunn relationship was that Arthur Lowe was a Tory, and Clive Dunn was an avowed socialist.”
Steven Lowe, Arthur Lowes’ son, explained: “Arthur was very political and very right-wing; he had been introduced to Margaret Thatcher, these were things he was massively proud of.
“Where other members of the cast, of course, did not necessarily share his politics, in fact, Clive Dunn was as left-wing as Arthur was right-wing.”
The two men avoided politics on set, but when Clive Dunn was awarded an OBE in 1975, Lowe felt personally snubbed.
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“I think he was absolutely furious that Clive Dunn got an OBE, and he didn’t, I would think he was absolutely crushed by that,” he added.
In September 1968, the first series of Dad’s Army had come to an end with around eight million people tuning in each week.
This was merely respectable viewings for the time it was made, but the BBC had already commissioned a second series.
The BBC’s decision to stick with Dad’s Army proved to be successful as, during series two, ratings climbed to around 14 million viewers, and the characters became firm favourites.
Emma Kennedy said: “Croft and Perry were absolute geniuses, they absolutely nailed it, they got every aspect of it right.
“They got the characters right, but more importantly than that, they got the right actors to play the right character.
“There isn’t a single person playing a character in Dad’s Army that is miscast,” she explained.
Most of the senior cast members served in the Second World War, making them the perfect fit for the characters they played.
The Secret Lives of Dad’s Army is available to watch on My5.
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