The world of showbiz was in mourning when the news broke that entertainment legend, Clive Dunn, had passed away at the grand age of 92. He may have been known primarily for his acting, but Dunn was also a talented author, artist, musician and singer – having had a number one hit Grandad, back in 1971 which he performed on Top of the Pops an amazing four times! The actor had showbusiness genuinely in his blood as he was born into a family of entertainers (one of whom was the actress who went on to become loved by millions as Ethel Skinner in Eastenders, Gretchen Franklin) and although he had trod the boards and graced the big screen since his teenage years, it was his role as Lance-Corporal Jack Jones in BBC’s Dad’s Army that made him a household name.
Dad’s Army was always on in our house when it was being shown by the Beeb as it was a firm favourite with my father and grandfather. As a child, I was less impressed because it seemed drab and dull… and about war which definitely didn’t appeal to my ‘Barbie pink’ six year old self! However I watched repeats as I got older and definitely had more respect for the humour and comedic timing than I previously had done. Just thinking about Dad’s Army brings back memories of Dad’s raucous laughter which I’m sure must have alarmed the neighbours!
Even before the role of Lance-Corporal Jones, Dunn perfected the art of playing doddering old men, which became his trademark. Therefore it may come as a huge surprise to know that Dunn was not as old as people may have thought – and he was actually one of the younger cast members of Dad’s Army! That in itself is evidence of Dunn’s huge acting ability and expertise (the excellent make up and wardrobe department need to get a mention too!) He is also well known for the character Charlie Quick in the late 1970s series Grandad (this brings back very vague memories so I really have to look this up.)
Today, we live in a world which celebrates celebrity rather than talent. Where young girls aspire to be WAGs and where you’re considered a star if you’ve slapped someone senseless on a tacky reality TV show. However Dunn came from an era where in order to be an entertainer you had to have skill, talent and be dedicated to continually improving your craft. Let’s hope that there will come a time in the future where talent counts for more than celebrity.
R.I.P Clive Dunn. Thanks for the laughter.