British actor Ian Lavender, the last surviving principal from Dad’s Army, has died aged 77.
He died on Friday morning after having been ill for some time, UK press report.
Lavender played Private Pike in the hit TV series from 1968 – 1977.
Birmingham-born Lavender was just 22 when he was cast as the guileless platoon member, barely out of drama school.
The hapless Pike was the youngest member of the troop and a bank clerk. He frequently had run-ins with Mainwaring, who would shout at him: “You stupid boy!”
Lavender once said, “I was a complete beginner and I suddenly joined what was probably Britain’s most experienced team of character actors. I was in a state of shock finding myself suddenly among so many great actors. When the moment came for me to speak, that funny voice of Pike just came out in a moment of panic.
“Since then at the start of every new series it has been one hell of a job trying to conjure it up again. But Private Pike took me from obscurity into the TV big time. I could never have achieved that if I hadn’t learned to say: ‘Ooh Captain Mainwaring, my mum said even if the Germans come I mustn’t catch cold.’”
Dad’s Army enjoyed a long-lasting impact on British popular culture. Some of its other catchphrases are also still used, such as “don’t panic!”, “put that light out!”, and “they don’t like it up ’em!”
Lavender also acted in other TV shows such as Yes Minister, EastEnders and appeared on stage, including in The Merchant of Venice.
Jon Petrie, the BBC’s director of comedy, said: “Ian was a much-loved actor and will be sorely missed by all those who knew him. In his role of Private Pike, in Dad’s Army, he delivered some of the most iconic and loved moments in the history of British comedy. Our thoughts are with his family.”