Dunn is noted for often playing much older characters than his actual age. The role of Jack Jones, the butcher in the Walmington-on-Sea set sitcom, saw Dunn, then in his 40s, playing a pensioner. (Pictured: Dunn, second right, with Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier and John Laurie.) The series, which spanned radio, television and film, made Clive Dunn a household name.
The story followed elderly gentlemen setting up a home guard during the second world war. As Lance Corporal Jack Jones many a catchphrase was created, Dunn having the most in the programme, including “They don’t like it up ‘em,”, “Permission to speak” and the best remembered “Don’t panic, don’t panic” as the character became more and more nervous.
In Dad’s Army his character had a number of bigger ‘plots’ within the comedy, his butchers van was used for outdoor training purposes and the TV programme ended after nine years in 1977 with Jones’ wedding. There were many other roles on television and in theatre, including Granada Television’s comedy Bootsie and Snudge which he starred alongside Alfie Bass and Grandad, which saw Dunn play a white-haired school caretaker. In 1978 Dunn made his opera debut in an English National Opera production and he was awarded the OBE in 1975. In recent years he became a noted for his artistic skills via painting landscapes and portraits.
It was the role of Jones, the brave, foolish, loveable old butcher in the 80 TV episodes of Dad’s Army that he’ll be best remembered, a role that despite living in Portugal for the past three decades saw him reprise from time to time for special outings on shows such as Noel’s House Party in the 1990s – proving the lasting enduring popularity of Dad’s Army.
The role also lead to a musical moment in 1971, which we Remember Clive Dunn with here, it’s the song that sold 90,000 records on its day of release, Grandad.
Clive Robert Benjamin Dunn OBE 9th January 1920 – 7th November 2012