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Ian Lavender: Dad's Army star dies aged 77

Ian Lavender
Ian Lavender

The Dad's Army actor Ian Lavender, who played Private Pike in the hit TV series, has died at the age of 77.

Birmingham-born Lavender was just 22 when he was cast as the guileless platoon member, in what was then a new BBC sitcom.

But it made him a household name, and he ended up spending 10 years as part of the comedy classic.

Lavender, who died on Friday, was the last surviving main cast member of the series.

Away from Dad's Army, he also acted in other TV comedies such as Yes Minister, and appeared on stage, including in The Merchant of Venice.

He also had a stint on EastEnders as Derek Harkinson, a role he reprised in 2016 for a festive storyline.

Lavender grew up in the Midlands but studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

He was barely out of drama school before being cast in the role for which he was to become most known.

A picture from Dads Army: Christmas Special 1975
A scene from Dad's Army: Christmas Special 1975

Dad's Army, a much loved series about a Home Guard platoon during World War Two, ran on BBC One from 1968 to 1977.

It also starred Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring, Arnold Ridley as Private Godfrey and John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Wilson, among others.

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!"

The series regularly attracted more than 18 million viewers in the 1970s, and has had 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 joined EastEnders in 2001 and remained on the BBC One soap for four years.

He returned to Walford briefly, fifteen years after his first appearance, but he left in 2017 after becoming ill with sepsis.

The following year marked the 50th anniversary of Dad's Army, which was commemorated by Royal Mail with a collection of stamps featuring the main characters.