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Farewell to Dad’s Army: Ian Lavender, last surviving cast member of hit TV sitcom, dies aged 77
5 February 2024, 12:30 | Updated: 5 February 2024, 13:18
Dad's Army star Ian Lavender has died aged 77.
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Lavender played Private Pike in the hit TV sitcom, which ran from 1968-1977, and also acted in Eastenders in a long career.
He was the last surviving member of the main cast of the show before he died on Friday.
His death was announced by the Dads Army Radio Show on Monday.
A Twitter post read: "We are deeply saddened to hear the passing of the wonderful, Ian Lavender. In what truly marks the end of an era, Ian was the last surviving member of the Dad’s Army main cast.
"His wonderful performance as Private Frank Pike will live on for decades to come. He leaves behind a legacy of laughter enjoyed by millions.
"We will dedicate this year’s tour to his memory. Our thoughts and love are with Ian’s wonderful wife Miki, their family and close friends."
Lavender was just 22 when he was cast in Dad's Army, and had only recently finished drama school.
Dad's Army showed the comic antics of a group of middle-aged and old men in a small seaside town in England during World War Two.
The characters are volunteers in the Home Guard, who have signed up to defend the country in case of an invasion.
Lavender's character, Private Pike, was a junior bank clerk excused from military service for health reasons.
He was much younger than the other characters. Captain Mainwaring, the group's leader, often called him "Stupid boy" as a catchphrase.
He also played Derek Harkinson in soap opera Eastenders between 2001 and 2005.
Lavender returned to Eastenders in 2016 but left in 2017 after falling ill with sepsis. He previously had cancer and had suffered a heart attack.
He appeared on stage with Dustin Hoffman in The Merchant of Venice and in Sister Act: The Musical.
Dad's Army, which gained over 18 million viewers at its peak, loomed large over Lavender's career, although he said he didn't have regrets.
He told the Guardian in 2014: "If you asked me, 'Would you like to be in a sitcom that was watched by 18 million people, was on screen for 10 years, and will create lots of work for you and provide not just for you but for your children for the next 40-odd years'… I'd be a fool to have regrets."
Pike, the youngest member of the Home Guard troop and a bank clerk, would often refer to Wilson as Uncle Arthur as he was in a relationship with his overprotective mother Mavis Pike (Janet Davies).
Royal Mail marked the 50th anniversary of the TV comedy classic Dad's Army with a collection of stamps in 2018, featuring the main characters.
That same year, Lavender cleared up a long-standing mystery from the show during an interview with the Radio Times.
When asking creator David Croft if Uncle Arthur was Pike's father, Lavender said: "He looked at me and said, 'Of course he is!'"