'Bill Pertwee gave me his sixpence'
- 27 May 2013
- From the section Have Your Say
To many people, Bill Pertwee, who has died aged 86, will always be Warden Hodges - the character he played in the BBC TV comedy series Dad's Army.
For those who met him, he was also a gentleman, kind and generous with his time and spirit.
Your memories of Bill Pertwee include the tale of a sixpence fee, a house sale and an explanation as to why his friends called him Paddington Bear.
'He paid me sixpence to stand outside Captain Mainwaring's tent'
Tim Ball, 52, from Thetford, Norfolk, recalls starring alongside Bill Pertwee as an extra in an episode of Dad's Army in 1975.
"I was 14 at the time and I had a whole week off school because they weren't sure when I would do my solo part.
It was in an episode called "Come in, your time is up" about a bivouac weekend where Captain Mainwaring and his platoon encounter a sea scout group.
We were the local land scout group but for the purposes of filming we became sea scouts.
I had to play the bugle and had practised all week. When I got on set the producer asked me to 'please play it out of tune', because that would sound funnier.
I was very nervous, but Bill Pertwee was very friendly.
I was meant to play the bugle when I jumped out of the van but Bill said he would pay me sixpence to stand outside of Mainwaring's tent to wake him up in the morning.
I did and true to his word he gave me his sixpence.
It was the first and only time I have ever been an extra and it was an honour and privilege to star with Bill.
I have met him several times since at Dad's Army reunions. He remembered me and he remembered that scene.
Those were happy days.
'Dear Bill, try not to be such a misery. Clive'
Peter Weaver, from Effingham in Surrey, was involved in selling Bill Pertwee's home in East Horsley, Surrey, about three years ago.
It was a little two-bedroom bungalow in East Horsley and I was waiting to show round the person who turned out to be the eventual buyer of the property. Whilst waiting I idly looked at the books on Bill's shelf. I suppose I was being a bit nosy. I noticed Clive Dunn's autobiography and I've grown up with Dad's Army, so I pulled it out and opened it. On the fly sheet in his handwriting was written "Dear Bill, try not to be such a misery - Clive". I laughed out loud and miss them both.
'None of the actors thought Dad's Army would do very well'
John Flanagan, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, met Bill Pertwee at a Dad's Army day at Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens in Norfolk about six years ago.
My daughter Amber has every episode of Dad's Army that exists on DVD. She has loved it since she was five. It's just a timeless comedy and very innocently written, pure fun.
At this museum they had a recreation of Walmington-on-Sea high street.
Bill had been signing books there all day when it began to rain.
He was standing inside the hall all on his own when we came in. He was fantastic, so down to earth and my little un' was besotted. I asked him if he knew the series was going to become such a monumental piece of English life.
He told us that at the time none of the actors thought Dad's Army would do very well. He said John Laurie in particular, who played Private James Frazer, said "I cannae believe I'm acting in such rubbish!" but they didn't know then it would become a British institution.
'What is that, darling?' 'Your book Bill.'
Geraldine Guthrie, from Winchester in Hampshire, was Bill Pertwee's manuscript typist.
Our family knew Bill and his wife Marion for many, many years. It is poignant that Bill died eight years to the day after Marion, exactly what he would have wanted I am sure.
I typed three of Bill's books, which was a very enjoyable task but quite an experience as he freely admitted that his handwriting was extremely difficult to decipher. He also added bits stapled on, and scrawled additions in the margins marked with long arrows in red pen. He had a habit of appearing at the drop of a hat saying "I've just thought of another bit, darling, that I would like to add". As it was usually in the middle of a page which had already been typed, it meant retyping several pages.
Life was easier when I graduated to a word processor, and finally to a computer. I remember he was totally bemused when he appeared to collect the last book when it was finished and was handed a disc. "What is that darling?" "Your book Bill". His face was a picture as he wasn't used to new technology!
'He said he often forgot what he had played in'
Dean Barker, a TV production graduate from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, met Bill Pertwee at a charity fundraising event in 2008.
Bill was a member of the Heritage Foundation which raises money for good causes and celebrates entertainers and entertainment. He was at this event to mark the 40th anniversary of Dad's Army and to raise money for a permanent RAF bomber command memorial in Hyde Park.
I remember him saying he'd had such a vast and varied career that he could never remember everything he'd been in. He said it wasn't until he was sitting down watching TV, like anyone else, and suddenly saw himself pop up as this character or that, that he remembered he'd done it.
He was so friendly though, signing autographs and posing for photos. I was only born in 1987 but it's a testimony to his work that his legacy lives on in DVDs and that a new generation is discovering him.
'Got your marmalade sandwiches?'
Actor Peter Blake worked with Bill Pertwee on several productions, including in the original stage production of Run for Your Wife.
We used to call him Paddington after Paddington Bear because he claimed he came from Peru. "Got your marmalade sandwiches?" we'd say to him.
We had a lot of trouble giggling. I was Detective Sergeant Troughton and he was Detective Sergeant Porterhouse. There was this one part where we had to ask for a warrant card at the same time. Simultaneously we had to say "Can I see some identification" which is rather a mouthful to say, you see, much easier to say "warrant card", and we got very giggly, I recall.
Interviews by Sitala Peek