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Published February 3rd 2016
Classic comedy returns on the big screen
Birmingham-born actor Ian Lavender is best known for his role as 'Stupid Boy' Private Pike in the classic television comedy Dad's Army.
An all-star cast now features in a new movie version of the small screen series, with Ian in a cameo role as Brigadier Pritchard.
It opens in the UK on February 5, a couple of weeks before Ian's 70th birthday, but what does the original Private Pike think of the new Dad's Army?
Stupid Boy: Ian Lavender is Private Pike in the original Dad's Army
''I'm perfectly happy about the film,'' he says. ''It can be nothing but a compliment to the original if you get a cast of actors and actresses that want to do it well. Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring, Bill Nighy as Sergeant Wilson, Tom Courtenay as Lance Corporal Jones - in all honesty, I can only assume they've done it because they loved it.''
On parade: The cast of the new Dad's Army film (pic: Universal Pictures)
But how does Ian feel about seeing actor Blake Harrison playing Private Pike, a character he made his own in the TV series.
''There's this thing that you can't play a part that somebody else has played on television but I don't understand that,'' he reasons. ''If the audience won't accept it, that's one thing, but there's no rule to say it can't be done. Anyone can play Hamlet. No one said you can't make a new St Trinian's film, although there's a slight difference in that St Trinian's didn't go into people's homes once a week like Dad's Army did.''
Don't panic: A scene from the new Dad's Army movie (pic: Universal Pictures)
Ian suggests that filmgoers should approach the Universal Pictures movie in the right frame of mind.
''It's a totally new film, it isn't a remake. If you've got a memory of the original actors you've got to get past that memory.''
Talking of memories, how did Ian get on with the cast when he was making the original Dad's Army?
''They were all my friends,'' he reveals, ''but I was probably closest to John Laurie [who played Private Frazer] and then Arthur [Lowe, Capt Mainwaring] and Clive [Dunn, Lance Cpl Jones]. There was no particular reason for that, it was like being among six guys in the pub but two of them are natural playmates.
''Arthur and John [Le Mesurier, Sgt Wilson] got on well but they weren't natural playmates. It didn't mean they didn't like each other. We all knew each other inside out. Just because we don't agree about everything doesn't mean you don't like somebody. Arthur was the Toryest of Tory people and Clive was the most Socialist of Socialist people but it didn't mean they didn't like each other, they just disagreed about certain things.''
Cameo: Ian Lavender today
Dad's Army is still regularly screened on BBC2 at weekends. Does Ian tune in?
''Occasionally I watch episodes on a Saturday night. I watch them because I find them amusing. I don't know them off by heart or anything like that. I don't sit and go 'I've got to watch Dad's Army tonight', but if there's one on that I particularly like I'll record it.
''I don't have them all and I don't feel I should go out and buy them. I think the BBC should have sent me a set on DVD!''
So what are Private Pike's favourite Dad's Army episodes?
Ian thinks for a moment before replying: ''Ring Dem Bells, when we all dressed as Germans making a film. The Deadly Attachment, the infamous 'Don't tell him, Pike' episode. And All Is Safety Gathered In, the Harvest Festival one.''
They don't like it up 'em: Defending England in the Dad's Army movie (pic: Universal Pictures)