AP Entertainment

Ian Lavender, the last surviving star of British sitcom ‘Dad’s Army,’ has died

LONDON (AP) — Actor Ian Lavender, who played a hapless Home Guard soldier in the classic British sitcom “Dad’s Army,” has died, his agent said Monday. He was 77.

Agent Hilary Gagan said Lavender had been ill for some time and died with his wife and sons at his side.

Lavender was the last surviving main cast member of “Dad’s Army,” about a ragtag volunteer unit assembled to defend their seaside English town from potential Nazi invasion during World War II.

Originally broadcast between 1968 and 1977, it attracted as many as 18 million viewers an episode — a third of the British population — and remains perennially popular in reruns.

Lavender played Private Frank Pike, the youngest member of the unit and frequent butt of the epithet “stupid boy!” from commanding officer Captain Mainwaring.

Another scene, in which a captured German officer demands the young private’s name and Mainwaring thunders: “Don’t tell him, Pike” is routinely voted one of Britain’s funniest TV moments.

Born in 1946, Lavender was 22 and just out of the Bristol Old Vic theater school when he was cast in the show alongside a troupe of stage and screen veterans.

He later acknowledged that his iconic role in “Dad’s Army” had led to him being typecast, but said he’d “be a fool to have regrets.”

“Private Pike took me from obscurity into the TV big time,” he was quoted as saying by Britain’s PA news agency. “I could never have achieved that if I hadn’t learned to say: ‘Ooh Captain Mainwaring, my mum said even if the Germans come I mustn’t catch cold.’”

Lavender later had a regular role on the BBC soap opera “EastEnders” and made a cameo appearance in a 2016 feature film adaptation of “Dad’s Army.”

He is survived by his wife Michelle Hardy and two sons.

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