/g1rRFVloFMOkxaIvj8Ja1CliTkP.jpgJohn Le Mesurier (/lə ˈmɛʒərər/,[1] born John Elton Le Mesurier Halliley; 5 April 1912 – 15 November 1983) was an English actor. He is perhaps best remembered for his comedic role as Sergeant Arthur Wilson in the BBC television situation comedy Dad’s Army (1968–77). A self-confessed “jobbing actor”,Le Mesurier appeared in more than 120 films across a range of genres, normally in smaller supporting parts.
Selected stage credits
Production Date Theatre Role Notes

Dangerous Corner September 1934 Palladium Theatre, Edinburgh Billed as John Halliley[10]
The Thirteenth Chair October 1934 Philip Mason[11] Billed as John Halliley[11]
The Dover Road October 1934 Leonard[12] Billed as John Halliley[12]
She Stoops to Conquer November 1934 Sir Charles Marlow[13] Billed as John Halliley[13]
The Mollusc December 1934 Billed as John Halliley[14]
Grumpy December 1934 Ernest Heron[15] Billed as John Halliley[15]
The Christmas Party December 1934 Colonel MacHashit[16] Billed as John Halliley[16]
The Happy Ending January 1935 Billed as John Halliley[17]
While Parents Sleep January 1935 Billed as John Halliley[18]
Dangerous Corner February 1935
Cavalcade March 1935
Up in Mabel’s Room July 1935 Coliseum Theatre, Oldham
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary September 1935 Sheffield Repertory Company
Twelfth Night November 1935 Malvolio[19]
Peace In Our Time September 1936 Croydon Repertory Theatre Mr Platt[20]
Dusty Ermine October 1936
The Apple Cart October 1936
Bees on the Boat Deck November 1936
Ah! Wilderness November 1936
The Constant Nymph November 1936 Lewis Dodd[21]
Charley’s Aunt December 1936
January 1937
Love on the Dole September 1937
Payment Deferred July 1938 Theatre Royal, Glasgow
The Romantic Young Lady July 1938 Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Petticoat Influence August 1938 Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Husband to a Famous Woman August 1938 Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
August 1938 Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Three Sisters September 1938 Konstantin[22] with the Howard and Wyndham Players[23]
The Moon in the Yellow River September 1938
Tovarich October 1938 Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh Prince Mikail[24]
Private Lives October 1938 Elyot Chase[25]
Gaslight July 1939 – May 1939 Apollo Theatre, London (understudy)[26]
May 1939 Finsbury Park Empire, London Mr Manningham[27]
May 1939 – June 1939 Savoy Theatre, London
June 1939 Chiswick Empire, London
June 1939 Chelsea Palace Theatre, London
July 1939 Grand Theatre, Blackpool
October 1939 Prince’s Theatre, Manchester
Goodness, How Sad November 1939 – December 1939 On tour
Journey’s End January 1940 Palace Court Theatre
French Without Tears January 1940 – February 1940 Grand Theatre, Blackpool
The Man in Half Moon Street March 1940 Brixton Theatre, London
Mystery at Greenfingers May 1940
The First Mrs Fraser May 1940
French Without Tears December 1941 ENSA
Just William December 1946 New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham Uncle Noel[28]
The Winslow Boy June 1947 Empire Theatre, Chatham
The Dubarry October 1947 – November 1947 Princes Theatre, London
The Linden Tree 23 May 1949 New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
Love in Idleness June 1949
Playbill August 1949
Queen of Hearts December 1949 – January 1950
The Smooth-Faced Gentleman 14 August 1950
Traveller’s Joy 1951 New Theatre, Bromley
Angry Dust January 1952 New Torch Theatre, London Doctor[29]
The Hanging Judge September 1952 – December 1952 New Theatre, London Governor of Norwich Gaol[30]
Piccolo July 1953 – August 1953 Connaught Theatre with Worthing rep.[31]
The Snow Was Black October 1953 The New Watergate, London
Here Comes April March 1954 Connaught Theatre
Twenty Minutes South June 1955 Players’ Theatre, London
July 1955 – October 1955 St Martin’s Theatre, London
Coroner’s Verdict February 1956 Richmond Theatre London
Malice Domestic June 1956 New Lindsey Theatre Dr. James Gully[32]
Army Benevolent Fund Gala 19 November 1961 Victoria Palace Theatre, London
The Daily Express Starlight Dance 23 July 1962 Lyceum Theatre, London
Homage to T. S. Eliot 13 June 1965 London Fringe Theatre
Poetry Reading 20 September 1970 Little Medway Theatre, Kent
The Television Arts Ball 31 December 1973 Royal Albert Hall, London
Dad’s Army September 1975 Forum Theatre, Billingham Sergeant Arthur Wilson
2 October 1975 – February 1976 Shaftesbury Theatre, London
February 1976 – August 1976 On tour [33]
One of Us 8 August 1976 Aldwych Theatre, London
An Inspector Calls August 1976 Salisbury, Rhodesia
In Concert August 1977 New Fair Oak Theatre, Rogate
Bedroom Farce January 1979 – March 1979 Hilton Playhouse, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur
Hay Fever 23 April 1980 – 31 May 1980 Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith Simon Bliss[34]
July 1980 – September 1980 Provincial tour
August 1981 Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guilford
September 1981 – October 1981 Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon
October 1981 Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Programme] Date Channel Role Notes

The Marvellous History of St Bernard 17 April 1938 BBC Television Seigneur de Miolans[3]
Richard of Bordeaux 18 December 1938 BBC Television Sir John Montague
They Flew Through Sand 14 June 1946 – 17 June 1946 BBC Television R.A.F. press officer
Just William 23 December 1946 BBC Television Uncle Noel
Whirligig 17 February 1951 – 28 April 1951 BBC Television Six episodes
The Railway Children 20 February 1951 – 17 July 1951 BBC Television Doctor Six episodes
Show Me a Spy! 31 July 1951 – 8 November 1951 BBC Television Sir Alexander Blythe Four episodes
Sherlock Holmes, “The Second Stain” 1 December 1951 BBC Television Eduardo Lucas
A Time to be Born 24 December 1951 BBC Television Joseph
The Drayton Case 1953 Inspector Henley
1066 and All That 25 December 1952 – 27 December 1952 BBC Television Two episodes
Teleclub5 4 December 1953 BBC Television
Happy Holidays 10 July 1954 – 18 September 1954 BBC Television Mr Mulberry Six episodes
The Unguarded Hour 29 March 1955 BBC Television
Douglas Fairbanks Presents, “Flight One-Zero-One” 27 June 1955 US network Dr Garside First aired on 27 June 1955 on US networks, before UK broadcast on ITV Television on 23 May 1956
The Granville Melodramas 30 November 1955 – 13 December 1955 ITV Television Sir William Ralston; Sir John; Mr Rencelaw Three episodes
Douglas Fairbanks Presents, “Deadline Vienna” 21 January 1956 NBC Geoffrey Warren First aired on 21 January 1955 on NBC, before UK broadcast on ITV Television on 3 July 1956
Douglas Fairbanks Presents, “The Way Home” 11 April 1956 ITV Television Dr Lloyd
Crown Theatre Presents 3 July 1956 ITV Television
Douglas Fairbanks Presents 9 July 1956 ITV Television
Saturday Playhouse 25 August 1956 ITV Television
Assignment Foreign Legion, “The Search” 12 October 1956 ITV Television Leblond
The Errol Flynn Theatre, “Mademoiselle Fifi” 24 November 1956 ITV Television Curé
Fireside Theatre 16 December 1956 ITV Television
Douglas Fairbanks Presents, “The Ludlow Affair” 28 January 1957 NBC Inspector Burroughs First aired on 28 January 1957 on NBC, before UK broadcast on ITV Television on 16 December 1956
Television Playhouse 28 March 1957 ITV Television
The Gay Cavalier, “Sealed Knot” 16 July 1957 ITV Television Sir Richard Willis
Douglas Fairbanks Presents 9 September 1957 ITV Television
Assignment Foreign Legion 10 September 1957 ITV Television
Hancock’s Half Hour, “The Lawyer” 2 December 1957 BBC Television Lord Chief Justice Williams Series 3, episode 9; broadcast live[38]
The Lafarge Affair 15 December 1957 BBC Television
Sword of Freedom 15 February 1958 ITV Television
Television Playhouse 7 March 1958 ITV Television
Douglas Fairbanks Presents 3 April 1958 ITV Television
Hancock’s Half Hour, “The New Nose” 16 January 1959 BBC Television Dr Francis Worthington Series 4, episode 4[39]
Play of the Week 20 January 1959 ITV Television
Hancock’s Half Hour, “The Horror Serial” 20 January 1959 BBC Television Colonel Series 4, episode 6[40]
The Adventures of William Tell, “The Avenger” 7 March 1959 ITV Television Duke of Burgundy
Hancock’s Half Hour, “The Servants” 27 March 1959 BBC Television Colonel[41] Series 4, episode 13[41]
The Errol Flynn Theatre 19 April 1959 ITV Television
Hancock’s Half Hour, “Lord Byron Lived Here” 9 October 1959 BBC Television National Trust Officer[42] Series 5, episode 3[42]
Interpol Calling, “The Long Weekend” 11 October 1959 ITV Television Monsieur Lamprou
Hancock’s Half Hour, “The Cruise” 30 October 1959 BBC Television The Captain[43] Series 5, episode 6[43]
The Enormous Shadow 10 November 1959 ITV Television
Saber of London 18 January 1960 ITV Television Franz
Hancock’s Half Hour, “The Cold” 4 March 1960 BBC Television Doctor Callaghan[44] Series 6, episode 1[44]
The Somerset Maugham Stories 7 April 1960 ITV Television
Play Gems 5 June 1960 ITV Television
The Adventures of William Tell 26 June 1960 ITV Television
Jazz Session 6 August 1960 BBC Television
Saber of London, “A Diplomatic Affair” 29 August 1960 ITV Television Franz
Danger Man, “An Affair of State” 13 November 1960 ITV Television
The Third Man 3 December 1960 ITV Television
Hancock’s Half Hour, “The Lift” 16 June 1961 BBC Television The Air Marshal[45] Series 7, episode 4[45]
The Pursuers 18 June 1961 ITV Television
Ghost Squad, “Death From A Distance” 4 November 1961 ITV Television Volgu[46]
Armchair Theatre, “Tune on the Old Tax Fiddle” 17 December 1961 ITV Television
Saber of London 5 February 1962 ITV Television
Danger Man 31 March 1962 ITV Television
Dial RIX 5 October 1962 BBC Television
Mr Justice Duncannon 25 January 1963 – 15 February 1963 BBC Television Two episodes
This Is Your Life 12 February 1963 BBC Television Le Mesurier’s wife, Hattie Jacques, was the show’s main guest
Galton and Simpson Comedy Playhouse, “A Clerical Error” 5 April 1963 BBC Television
Play of the Week, “The Brimstone Butterfly” 16 April 1963 ITV Television
Casebook 5 October 1963 ITV Television
Armchair Theatre, “Long Past Glory” 17 November 1963 ITV Television Harry
The Avengers, “Mandrake” 24 January 1964 ITV Television Dr Madrombie
Festival, “The Lady Of The Camellias” 12 February 1964 BBC Television de Giray
Festival, “The Master of Santiago” 26 February 1964 BBC Television
Sunday Story 12 April 1964 ITV Television
Armchair Theatre, “The Blackmailing of Mr. S” 26 July 1964 ITV Television
Play of the Week, “The Bachelors” 23 November 1964 ITV Television Octave De Coetquidan
The Largest Theatre in the World, “Tea Party” 25 March 1965 BBC One Disley
Story Parade, “The Bachelors” 1 April 1965 BBC Two
Memoirs of a Chaise Longue 2 July 1965 BBC One
Riviera Police 9 August 1965 ITV Television
Theatre 625, “Dr Knock” 2 January 1966 BBC Two Dr Parpalaid
The Avengers, “What the Butler Saw” 26 February 1966 ITV Television Benson
The Wednesday Play, “Macready’s Gala” 2 March 1966 BBC One Canon Dunwoodie
Frankie Howerd 8 March 1966 BBC One
Pardon the Expression 1 April 1966 – 13 June 1966 ITV Television Four episodes
Thirty Minute Theatre, “The Caramel Crisis” 25 April 1966 BBC Two Lame
Marriage Lines, “Home Market” 6 May 1966 BBC One
Adam Adamant Lives!, “The Terribly Happy Embalmers” 4 August 1966 BBC One
George and the Dragon 19 November 1966 – 24 December 1966 ITV Television Colonel Maynard Six episodes
Hugh and I 3 January 1967 BBC One
All Gas and Gaiters, “The Bishop Gets the Sack” 31 January 1967 BBC One Television producer
Thirty-Minute Theatre, “An Absolute Treasure” 22 February 1967 BBC One Brian Turner
Mr Rose 17 March 1967 ITV Television
The Troubleshooters 20 March 1967 BBC One Kemp
George and the Dragon 20 May 1967 – 1 July 1967 ITV Television Colonel Maynard Seven episodes
The Further Adventures of Lucky Jim 30 May 1967 BBC Two
To Lucifer: A Son 29 June 1967 BBC One
George and the Dragon 6 January 1968 – 17 February 1968 ITV Television Colonel Maynard Seven episodes
Call My Bluff 25 February 1968 BBC Two
Dad’s Army 31 July 1968 – 11 September 1968 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 1; six episodes
George and the Dragon 26 September 1968 – 31 October 1968 ITV Television Colonel Maynard Six episodes
Harry Worth, “Private Pimpernel” 21 October 1968 BBC One Colonel Fullbright
Two in Clover 25 February 1969 ITV Television Chairman
Dad’s Army 1 March 1969 – 5 April 1969 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 2; six episodes
The Mind of Mr J.G. Reader 11 June 1969 ITV Television Joseph Bracher
W. Somerset Maugham: The Creative Impulse 17 June 1969 BBC Two Mr Albert Forrester
Tales of Edgar Wallace, “Flat Two” 25 July 1969 ITV Television Warden
Dad’s Army 11 September 1969 – 11 December 1969 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 3; fourteen episodes
The Wednesday Play, “The Last Train Through the Harecastle Tunnel” 1 October 1969 BBC One Judge Grayson
The Coward Revue 26 December 1969 BBC One
Saturday Night Theatre 3 January 1970 ITV Television
Bird’s Eye View 22 March 1970 BBC Two
Comedy Playhouse, “Haven of Rest” 1 April 1970 BBC One Mr Prentice
Shine a Light 13 May 1970 ITV Television
A Royal Television Gala Performance 25 May 1970 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson
The Des O’Connor Show 31 July 1970 ITV Television
Dad’s Army 25 September 1970 – 18 December 1970 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 4; thirteen episodes
Dear Mother…Love Albert 8 March 1971 ITV Television
This Is Your Life 24 March 1971 ITV Television Clive Dunn was the show’s main guest
The Morecambe & Wise Show 22 April 1971 BBC One
Paul Temple 9 June 1971 BBC One
Jokers Wild 7 July 1971 ITV Television
Jokers Wild 28 July 1971 ITV Television
Misleading Cases 6 August 1971 BBC One
Doctor at Large, “Mr Moon” 22 August 1971 ITV Television Stanley Moon
Play for Today, “Traitor” 14 October 1971 BBC One Adrian Harris Le Mesurier’s performance won him a British Academy of Film and Television Arts “Best Television Actor” award.[47]
The Goodies 10 December 1971 BBC One
Dad’s Army, Special, “Battle of the Giants” 27 December 1971 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson
Jason King, “If It’s Got to Go – It’s Got to Go” 16 February 1972 ITV Television Dr.Litz
Jackanory 11 September 1972 – 15 September 1972 BBC One Five episodes
A Class by Himself 13 September 1972 – 18 October 1972 ITV Television Lord Bleasham Six episodes
Sykes, “Uncle” 29 September 1972 BBC One
Dad’s Army 6 October 1972 – 29 December 1972 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 5; thirteen episodes
Armchair Theatre, “Anywhere But England” 31 October 1972 ITV Television Freddie
Jason King 5 January 1973 ITV Television
Comedy Playhouse, “Marry the Girls” 1 February 1973 BBC One
Thriller, “File it Under Fear” 2 June 1973 ITV Television Stubbs
Black and Blue, “Rust a Highly Moral Farce” 4 September 1973 BBC One Sir Henry
Dad’s Army 31 October 1973 – 12 December 1973 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 6; six episodes
Great Mysteries 28 November 1973 ITV Television, Anglia
Crown Court, “Murder Most Foul” 27 December 1973 ITV Television Reginald Standish
Late Night Theatre, “Silver Wedding” 25 September 1974 ITV Television Geoffrey
Dad’s Army 15 November 1974 – 23 December 1974 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 7; six episodes
Village Hall, “Pie in the Sky” 18 May 1975 ITV Television Harold Garfield
Centre Play, “The Flight Fund” 14 July 1975 BBC Two Edward
Dad’s Army 5 September 1975 – 10 October 1975 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 8; six episodes
Death of an Old-Fashioned Girl 25 September 1975 ITV Television
Shades of Greene, “The Root of All Evil” 7 October 1975 ITV Television Schmidt
Dad’s Army, Special “My Brother and I” 26 December 1975 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson
Bod 1975–1976 BBC One Narrator Thirteen episodes
This Is Your Life 10 March 1976 ITV Television Arnold Ridley was the show’s main guest
Dad’s Army, Special “The Love of Three Oranges” 26 December 1976 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson
Dad’s Army 2 October 1977 – 6 November 1977 BBC One Sergeant Arthur Wilson Series 9; six episodes
A Christmas Carol 24 December 1977 BBC Two Marley’s ghost
The Morecambe & Wise Show 25 December 1977 BBC One
Flint 15 January 1978 BBC One
An Honourable Retirement 4 November 1979 ITV Television Edward Brown
Ripping Yarns, “Roger of the Raj” 24 October 1979 BBC Two Colonel Runciman
The Dick Emery Show 5 January 1980 BBC One
The Shillingbury Blowers 6 January 1980 ITV Television
Worzel Gummidge, “Very Good, Worzel” 3 February 1980 ITV Television Baines
Night of One Hundred Stars 21 December 1980 ITV Television
Brideshead Revisited, “Julia” 17 November 1981 ITV Television Father Mowbray Episode 6
Dead Ernest 15 February 1982 ITV Television Head of Plagues Episode 3
Bognor 9 March 1982 – 23 March 1982 ITV Television Blight-Purley Three episodes
Hi-de-Hi! 7 November 1982 BBC One The Dean
A Married Man 10 July 1983 – 31 July 1983 Channel 4 Eustace Lough Four episodes

Selected radio broadcasts
Broadcast Date Channel Notes

Escape or Die 2 March 1947 BBC Home Service
Mutiny in the Navy 14 April 1947 BBC Third Programme
Alexander the Corrector 17 August 1947 BBC Home Service
Trafalgar Square 29 August 1951 BBC Home Service
The Trial of Sir Walter Raleigh 9 September 1951 BBC Home Service
Focus on General Elections 23 October 1951 BBC Home Service
Alcock and Brown 28 October 1951 BBC General Overseas Service
Lord Delamere 22 November 1951 BBC General Overseas Service
I was a Communist 8 February 1952 BBC General Overseas Service
Dr Arnold of Rugby 19 February 1952 BBC Home Service
Edward Gibbon Wakefield 11 May 1952 BBC General Overseas Service
At the Sign of the Maid’s Head 26 June 1952 BBC Home Service
Portrait of Sir Edward Coke 18 July 1952 BBC Home Service
The World is My Parish 16 June 1953 BBC Home Service
Elizabethan Theatre 9 September 1953 BBC General Overseas Service
Rodney Stone 20 May 1954 BBC Home Service
Brigadier Gerard 1 September 1954 BBC Light Programme
Abu Hassan 31 March 1957 BBC Third Programme
Abu Hassan 1 April 1957 BBC Third Programme
Doctor in the House 25 June 1968 BBC Radio 4
Late Night Extra 31 January 1969 BBC Radio 1 and 2
Brothers in Law 9 June 1970 BBC Radio 4
Brothers in Law 16 June 1970 BBC Radio 4
Today 12 March 1971 BBC Radio 4
Open House 12 July 1971 BBC Radio 2
Brothers in Law 27 July 1971 BBC Radio 4
Sounds Familiar 17 May 1972 BBC Radio 2
Brothers in Law 3 July 1972 BBC Radio 4
Desert Island Discs 17 February 1973 BBC Radio 4
Dad’s Army, series 1 28 January 1974 – 10 June 1974 BBC Radio 4 Role: Sergeant Arthur Wilson[49]
Dad’s Army, Special 25 December 1974 BBC Radio 4 Role: Sergeant Arthur Wilson[49]
Dad’s Army, series 2 11 February 1975 – 24 June 1975 BBC Radio 4 Role: Sergeant Arthur Wilson[49]
Dad’s Army, series 3 16 March 1976 – 7 September 1976 BBC Radio 4 Role: Sergeant Arthur Wilson[49]
The Kamikaze Ground Staff Reunion Dinner 16 December 1979 BBC Radio 3
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 24 January 1980 BBC Radio 4 Role: The Wise Old Bird[50]
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves 3 December 1980 – 7 January 1981 BBC Radio 4
The Lord of the Rings 8 March 1981 – 30 April 1981 BBC Radio 4 Role: Bilbo Baggins[51]
The Flower Case 24 October 1982 BBC Radio 3
The Dog It Was That Died 9 December 1982 BBC Radio 3
It Sticks Out Half a Mile 13 November 1983 – 15 January 1984 BBC Radio 2 Role: Arthur Wilson[51]
Nine episodes
It Sticks Out Half a Mile 21 August 1984 – 2 October 1984 BBC Radio 2 Role: Arthur Wilson[51]
Four episodes

Film Year Role Notes

The Hangman Waits 1947 Newspaper office worker
Death in the Hand 1948 Jack Mottram
Escape from Broadmoor 1948 Pendicot
Old Mother Riley’s New Venture 1949 Karl
A Matter of Murder 1949 Ginter
Dark Interval 1950 Cedric, the butler
The Small Miracle 1951
Blind Man’s Bluff 1952 Leftie Jones
Mother Riley Meets the Vampire 1953 Scotland Yard Man Uncredited[53]
The Blue Parrot 1953 Henry Carson
Black 13 1953 Inspector
The Pleasure Garden 1953 Colonel Pall K. Gargoyle
Dangerous Cargo 1954 Luigi
Beautiful Stranger 1954 Man at Baccarat Table Uncredited[54]
Stranger from Venus 1954 Man at Desk Uncredited[55]
Police Dog 1955 C.I.D. inspector
Make Me an Offer 1955 Mr. Toshack Uncredited
A Time to Kill 1955 Phineas Tilliard
Josephine and Men 1955 Registrar
Private’s Progress 1956 Psychiatrist
The Baby and the Battleship 1956 The marshal’s aide
The Battle of the River Plate 1956 Rev. George Groves – Padre, HMS Exeter Uncredited[56]
Brothers in Law 1957 His Honour Judge Ryman
The Good Companions 1957 Monte Mortimer
The Admirable Crichton 1957 Cook Uncredited[57]
These Dangerous Years 1957 Commanding Officer
High Flight 1957 Commandant
The Man Who Wouldn’t Talk 1958 Judge
Happy Is the Bride 1958 Chaytor
Gideon’s Day 1958 Prosecuting counsel Uncredited[58]
Another Time, Another Place 1958 Dr Aldridge
The Moonraker 1958 Oliver Cromwell
Law and Disorder 1958 Sir Humphrey Pomfret
Blind Spot 1958 Brent
Man with a Gun 1958 Harry Drayson
Blood of the Vampire 1958 Chief Justice
I Was Monty’s Double 1958 Adjutant R.A.P.C.
The Captain’s Table 1959 Sir Angus
Operation Amsterdam 1959 Colonel Jknol
The Lady Is a Square 1959 Fergusson
Too Many Crooks 1959 Magistrate
Carlton-Browne of the F.O. 1959 Grand Duke Alexis
The Hound of the Baskervilles 1959 Barrymore
Jack the Ripper 1959 Dr. Tranter
Shake Hands with the Devil 1959 British General
I’m All Right Jack 1959 Waters
The Wreck of the Mary Deare 1959 MOA Lawyer Uncredited
Ben-Hur 1959 Doctor Uncredited
A Touch of Larceny 1959 Head of the Admiralty Uncredited
Desert Mice 1959 Staff Colonel
Follow a Star 1959 Birkett
Our Man in Havana 1959 Louis, headwaiter Uncredited
Let’s Get Married 1960 The dean
School for Scoundrels 1960 Skinner, headwaiter
The Day They Robbed the Bank of England 1960 Green, deputy cashier of Bank of England
Dead Lucky 1960 Inspector Corcoran
Never Let Go 1960 Pennington
Doctor in Love 1960 Dr Mincing
The Bulldog Breed 1960 Prosecuting Counsel
The Pure Hell of St Trinian’s 1960 Minister
Five Golden Hours 1961 Doctor Alfieri
The Night We Got the Bird 1961 Clerk of the Court
The Rebel 1961 Office manager
Mr. Topaze 1961 The blackmailer
Very Important Person 1961 Piggott
Don’t Bother to Knock 1961 Father Uncredited[63]
Invasion Quartet 1961 The colonel
On the Fiddle 1961 Sergeant Hixon
Hair of the Dog 1962 Sir Mortimer Gallant
Flat Two 1962 Warden [64]
Only Two Can Play 1962 Salter
Village of Daughters 1962 Don Calogero
Mrs. Gibbons’ Boys 1962 Coles
Go to Blazes 1962 Fisherman
Waltz of the Toreadors 1962 Rev. Grimsley
Jigsaw 1962 Mr Simpson
The Main Attraction 1962 Bozo
We Joined the Navy 1962 Dewberry Snr
The Wrong Arm of the Law 1963 Assistant police commissioner
The Punch and Judy Man 1963 Sandman
The Mouse on the Moon 1963 British delegate
In the Cool of the Day 1963 Doctor Arraman
The Pink Panther 1963 Defence lawyer
Hot Enough for June 1964 Roger Allsop
Never Put It in Writing 1964 Adams
The Moon-Spinners 1964 Anthony Gamble
Operation Crossbow 1965 British Army Officer (scenes deleted)
Masquerade 1965 Sir Robert
City Under the Sea 1965 Reverend Jonathan Ives
Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines 1965 French painter
The Liquidator 1965 Chekhov
The Early Bird 1965 Colonel Foster
Thunderball 1965 Man at Army Meeting Uncredited
Where the Spies Are 1966 MacGillivray
Our Man in Marrakesh 1966 George C. Lillywhite
The Wrong Box 1966 Dr Slattery
The Sandwich Man 1966 Abadiah, religious sandwich man
Eye of the Devil 1966 Dr. Monnet
Finders Keepers 1966 Mr. X
The 25th Hour 1967 President of Court Original title: La Vingt-cinquième Heure
Mister Ten Per Cent 1967 Jocelyn Macauley
Casino Royale 1967 M’s Driver Uncredited
Cuckoo Patrol 1967 Gibbs
Monsieur Lecoq 1967 Owner of French chateau
Salt and Pepper 1968 Colonel Woodstock
Midas Run 1969 Wells
The Italian Job 1969 Prison governor
The Magic Christian 1969 Sir John Uncredited
Doctor in Trouble 1970 Purser
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever 1970 Pelham
Dad’s Army 1971 Sergeant Arthur Wilson
Au Pair Girls 1972 Mr Wainwright
The Alf Garnett Saga 1972 Mr Frewin
Confessions of a Window Cleaner 1974 Inspector Radlett
Brief Encounter 1974 Stephen
The Culcheth Job 1974 “Cast member”
Barry McKenzie Holds His Own 1974 Robert Crowther
Three for All 1975 Mr Gibbons
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother 1975 Lord Redcliff
Jabberwocky csak online 1977 Passelewe, the chamberlain
Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers 1977 Col. Bromley Pickering
Rosie Dixon – Night Nurse 1978 Sir Archibald MacGregor
What’s Up Nurse! 1978 Dr Ogden
Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? 1978 Doctor Deere
The Spaceman and King Arthur 1979 Sir Gawain
The Shillingbury Blowers 1980 Council Chairman
The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu 1980 Perkins
Sir John Betjeman Late Flowering Love 1981 “Cast member”
The Passionate Pilgrim 1984 Narrator
Facelift 1984 Bruce Voice, (final film role)


Album Year Record label Catalogue number Notes
Dad’s Army: Original Cast Recording 1975 Warner Bros. Records K56186
What is Going To Become of Us All? 1976 Warner Communications K54080
Once Upon a World 1977 B7 Media 1906577005
The Velveteen Rabbit 1978 Columbia Records SCX6599 featuring Robin Le Mesurier, with music by Ed Welch

Single Year Record label Notes

“A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” 1975 Warner Bros. Records B side: “Hometown”, with Arthur Lowe and company
“There Ain’t Much Change From A Pound These Days” 1982 KA Records with Clive Dunn
B side: “After All These Years”, with Dunn
Le Mesurier became interested in the stage as a young adult and enrolled at the Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art in 1933. From there he took a position in repertory theatre and made his stage debut in September 1934 at the Palladium Theatre in Edinburgh in the J. B. Priestley play Dangerous Corner. He later accepted an offer to work with Alec Guinness in a John Gielgud production of Hamlet. He first appeared on television in 1938 as Seigneur de Miolans in the BBC broadcast of The Marvellous History of St Bernard. During the Second World War Le Mesurier was posted to British India, as a captain with the Royal Tank Regiment. He returned to acting and made his film debut in 1948, starring in the second feature comedy short Death in the Hand, opposite Esme Percy and Ernest Jay.
Le Mesurier had a prolific film career, appearing mostly in comedies, usually in roles portraying figures of authority such as army officers, policemen and judges. As well as Hancock’s Half Hour, Le Mesurier appeared in Hancock’s two principal films, The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man. In 1971 Le Mesurier received his only award: a British Academy of Film and Television Arts “Best Television Actor” award for his lead performance in Dennis Potter’s television play Traitor; it was one of the few lead roles he played during the course of his career.
He took a relaxed approach to acting and felt that his parts were those of “a decent chap all at sea in a chaotic world not of his own making”. Le Mesurier was married three times, most notably to the actress Hattie Jacques. A heavy drinker of alcohol for most of his life, Le Mesurier died in 1983, aged 71, from a stomach haemorrhage, brought about as a complication of cirrhosis of the liver. After his death, critics reflected that, for an actor who normally took minor roles, the viewing public were “enormously fond of him”
Early life
Sherborne School, Dorset, which Le Mesurier disliked intensely
Le Mesurier was born John Elton Le Mesurier Halliley, in Bedford on 5 April 1912.His parents were Charles Elton Halliley, a solicitor, and Amy Michelle (née Le Mesurier), whose family were from Alderney in the Channel Islands; both families were affluent, with histories of government service or work in the legal profession. While John was an infant the family settled in Bury St Edmunds, in West Suffolk. He was sent to school, first to Grenham House in Kent, and later to Sherborne School in Dorset where one of his fellow-pupils was Alan Turing.[ Le Mesurier disliked both schools intensely, citing insensitive teaching methods and an inability to accept individualism. He later wrote: “I resented Sherborne for its closed mind, its collective capacity for rejecting anything that did not conform to the image of manhood as portrayed in the ripping yarns of a scouting manual”.
From an early age Le Mesurier had been interested in acting and performing; as a child he had frequently been taken to the West End of London to watch Ralph Lynn and Tom Walls perform in the popular series of farces at the Aldwych Theatre. These experiences fuelled an early desire to make a career on the stage. After leaving school he was initially persuaded to follow his father’s line of work, as an articled clerk at Greene & Greene, a firm of solicitors in Bury St Edmunds; in his spare time he took part in local amateur dramatics. In 1933 he decided to leave the legal profession, and in September he enrolled at the Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art; a fellow-student was Alec Guinness, with whom he became close friends. In July 1934, the studio staged their annual public revue in which both Le Mesurier and Guinness took part; among the judges for the event were John Gielgud, Leslie Henson, Alfred Hitchcock and Ivor Novello.Le Mesurier received a Certificate of Fellowship, while Guinness won the Fay Compton prize. After the revue, rather than remain at the studio for further tuition Le Mesurier took an opportunity to join the Edinburgh-based Millicent Ward Repertory Players at a salary of £3.10s (£3.50) a week.
The Millicent Ward repertory company typically staged evening performances of three-act plays; the works changed each week, and rehearsals were held during the daytime for the following week’s production. Under his birth name John Halliley, Le Mesurier made his stage debut in September 1934 at the Palladium Theatre, Edinburgh in the J. B. Priestley play Dangerous Corner, along with three other newcomers to the company. The reviewer for The Scotsman thought that Le Mesurier was well cast in the role. Appearances in While Parents Sleep and Cavalcade were followed by a break, as problems arose with the lease of the theatre. Le Mesurier then accepted an offer to appear with Alec Guinness in a John Gielgud production of Hamlet, which began in Streatham in the spring of 1935 and later toured the English provinces. Le Mesurier understudied Anthony Quayle’s role of Guildenstern, and otherwise appeared in the play as an extra.
Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, where Le Mesurier appeared in numerous roles during 1938
In July 1935, Le Mesurier was hired by the Oldham repertory company, based at the Coliseum Theatre; his first appearance with them was in a version of the Wilson Collison play, Up in Mabel’s Room; he was sacked after one week for missing a performance after oversleeping.
In September 1935, he moved to the Sheffield Repertory Theatre to appear in Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, and also played Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Le Mesurier later commented on the slow progress of his career: “had I known it was going to take so long, I might well have given the whole thing up”. In 1937 he joined the Croydon Repertory Theatre, where he appeared in nine productions in 1936 and 1937. During this period Le Mesurier changed his professional name from John Halliley to John Le Mesurier; his biographer Graham McCann observes that “he never bothered, at least in public, to explain the reason for his decision”. Le Mesurier used his new name for the first time in the September 1937 production of Love on the Dole.

Le Mesurier first appeared on television in 1938, thus becoming one of the medium’s pioneering actors. His initial appearance was in a production of The Marvellous History of St Bernard in which he appeared as Seigneur de Miolans in a play adapted from a 15th-century manuscript by Henri Ghéon. Alongside the television appearance, he continued to appear on stage in Edinburgh and Glasgow with the Howard and Wyndham Players, at least until late 1938 when he returned to London and re-joined Croydon Repertory Theatre. His second spell with the troupe ended a few months later when, from May to October 1939 he appeared in Gaslight, first in London and subsequently on tour. The reviewer in The Manchester Guardian considered that Le Mesurier gave “a faultless performance”, and that “the character is not overemphasised. One may praise it best by saying that Mr. Le Mesurier gives one a really uncomfortable feeling in the stomach”.

From November to December 1939, Le Mesurier toured Britain in a production of Goodness, How Sad, during which time he met the director’s daughter, June Melville, whom he married in April 1940. After spending January and February 1940 in French Without Tears at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool, he returned to London where he was employed by the Brixton Theatre, appearing in a series of productions. In his time in repertory, Le Mesurier took on a variety of roles across a number of genres; his biographer Graham McCann observed that his range included “comedies and tragedies, thrillers and fantasies, tense courtroom dramas and frenzied farces, Shakespeare and Ibsen, Sheridan and Wilde, Molière and Shaw, Congreve and Coward. The range was remarkable”.

In September 1940 Le Mesurier’s rented home was hit by a German bomb, destroying all his possessions, including his call-up papers. In the same bombing raid, the theatre in Brixton in which he was working was also hit. A few days later he reported for basic training with the Royal Armoured Corps; in June 1941 he was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment. He served in Britain until 1943 when he was posted to British India where he spent the rest of the war.Le Mesurier later claimed that he had had “a comfortable war, with captaincy thrust upon me, before I was demobbed in 1946”.


On his return to Britain, Le Mesurier returned to acting; he initially struggled for work, finding only a few minor roles. In February 1948 he made his film debut in the second feature comedy short Death in the Hand, which starred Esme Percy and Ernest Jay. He followed this with equally small roles in the 1949 film Old Mother Riley’s New Venture—where his name was misspelt on the credits as “Le Meseurier”—and the 1950 crime film Dark Interval. During the same period he also frequently appeared on stage in Birmingham.

Le Mesurier undertook several roles on television in 1951, including that of Doctor Forrest in The Railway Children,the blackmailer Eduardo Lucas in Sherlock Holmes: The Second Stain, and Joseph in the nativity play A Time to be Born. In the same year Tony Hancock joined Le Mesurier’s second wife, Hattie Jacques (the couple had married in 1949 following his divorce from June Melville earlier that year) in the radio series Educating Archie. Le Mesurier and Hancock became friends; they would often go for drinking sessions around Soho, where they ended up in jazz clubs. After Hancock left Educating Archie in 1952 after one season,  the friendship continued, and Jacques joined the cast of Hancock’s Half Hour during the fourth radio series in 1956.

Terry-Thomas, alongside whom Le Mesurier appeared in Private’s Progress and Carlton-Browne of the F.O.
In 1952, as well as appearing in the films Blind Man’s Bluff and Mother Riley Meets the Vampire,Le Mesurier also appeared as the doctor in Angry Dust at the New Torch Theatre, London. Parnell Bradbury, writing in The Times, thought Le Mesurier had played the role extraordinarily well; Harold Hobson, writing in The Sunday Times, thought that “the trouble with Mr. John Le Mesurier’s Dr. Weston is that he approaches the man too snarlingly … [it is] a notion of genius that would be unacceptable anywhere outside Victorian melodrama”. In 1953, he had a role as a bureaucrat in the short film The Pleasure Garden, which won the Prix de Fantasie Poetique at the Cannes Film Festival in 1954. After a long run of small roles in second features, his 1955 portrayal of the registrar in Roy Boulting’s comedy Josephine and Men, “jerked him out of the rut”, according to Philip Oakes.

Following his appearance in Josephine and Men, John and Roy Boulting cast Le Mesurier as a psychiatrist in their 1956 Second World War film, Private’s Progress. The cast featured many leading British actors of the time, including Ian Carmichael and Richard Attenborough. Dilys Powell, reviewing for The Sunday Times, thought that the cast was “embellished” by Le Mesurier’s presence, among others. Later in 1956 Le Mesurier again appeared alongside Attenborough, with small roles in Jay Lewis’s The Baby and the Battleship and Roy Boulting’s Brothers in Law, the latter which also featured Carmichael and Terry-Thomas. He was also active in television, in a variety of roles in episodes of Douglas Fairbanks Presents, a series of short dramas.

Le Mesurier’s friendship with Tony Hancock provided a further source of work when Hancock asked him to be one of the regular supporting actors in Hancock’s Half Hour, when it moved from radio to television. Le Mesurier subsequently appeared in seven episodes of the show between 1957 and 1960, and then in an episode of a follow-up series entitled Hancock. In 1958 he appeared in ten films, among them Roy Boulting’s comedy Happy Is the Bride, about which Dilys Powell wrote in The Sunday Times: “[M]y vote for the most entertaining contributions … goes to the two fathers, John Le Mesurier and Cecil Parker”. In 1959, the busiest year of his career, Le Mesurier took part in 13 films, including I’m All Right Jack, which was the most successful of Le Mesurier’s credited films that year; he also had an uncredited role as a doctor in Ben-Hur.


Le Mesurier appeared in nine films in 1960, as well as nine television programmes, including episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour, Saber of London and Danger Man. His work the following year included a part in Peter Sellers’s directorial debut Mr. Topaze, a film which failed both critically and commercially. He provided the voice of Mr. Justice Byrne in a recording of excerpts from the transcript of R v Penguin Books Ltd.—the court case concerning the publication of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover—which also featured Michael Hordern and Maurice Denham. J.W. Lambert, reviewing for The Sunday Times, wrote that Le Mesurier gave “precisely the air of confident incredulity which the learned gentleman exhibited in court”. Later that year he played Hancock’s office manager in the first of Tony Hancock’s two principal film vehicles, The Rebel.

Peter Sellers, with whom Le Mesurier appeared in several films

In 1962 he appeared in Wendy Toye’s comedy film We Joined the Navy before reuniting with Peter Sellers in Only Two Can Play, Sidney Gilliat’s film of the novel That Uncertain Feeling by Kingsley Amis; Powell noted with pleasure “the armour of his gravity pierced by polite bewilderment”. She compared Le Mesurier with the well-known American straight-face comedian, John McGiver.] After appearing in another Sellers film in 1962—Waltz of the Toreadors—Le Mesurier joined him in the 1963 comedy The Wrong Arm of the Law. Powell again reviewed the pair’s film, commenting that “I thought I knew by now every shade in the acting of John Le Mesurier (not that I could ever get tired of any of them); but there seems a new shade here”. In the same year he appeared in a third Sellers film, The Pink Panther, as a defence lawyer, and in the second and last of Tony Hancock’s starring vehicles, The Punch and Judy Man. Le Mesurier played Sandman in the latter film; Powell wrote that the role “allowed a gentler and subtler character than usual”. He also appeared in a series of advertisements for Homepride flour in 1964, providing the voice-over for the animated character Fred the Flourgrader; he continued as the voice until 1983.

In a change from his usual comedic roles, Le Mesurier portrayed the Reverend Jonathan Ives in Jacques Tourneur’s 1965 science fiction film, City Under the Sea, before returning to comedy in Where the Spies Are, a comedy-adventure film directed by Val Guest, which starred David Niven. In 1966 Le Mesurier also played the role of Colonel Maynard in the ITV sitcom George and the Dragon, with Sid James and Peggy Mount. The programme ran to four series between 1966 and 1968, totalling 26 episodes. He also took a role in four episodes of a Coronation Street spin-off series, Pardon the Expression, in which he starred opposite Arthur Lowe..


In 1968 Le Mesurier was offered a role in a new BBC situation comedy playing an upper-middle-class Sergeant Arthur Wilson in Dad’s Army; he was the second choice after Robert Dorning. Le Mesurier was unsure about taking the part as he was finishing the final series of George and the Dragon and did not want another long-term television role. He was persuaded both by an increase in his fee—to £262 10s (£262.50) per episode—and by the casting of his old friend Clive Dunn as Corporal Jones. Le Mesurier was initially unsure of how to portray his character, and was advised by series writer Jimmy Perry to make the part his own. Le Mesurier decided to base the character on himself, later writing that “I thought, why not just be myself, use an extension of my own personality and behave rather as I had done in the army? So I always left a button or two undone, and had the sleeve of my battle dress slightly turned up. I spoke softly, issued commands as if they were invitations (the sort not likely to be accepted) and generally assumed a benign air of helplessness”.[86] Perry later observed that “we wanted Wilson to be the voice of sanity; he has become John”.

Le Mesurier (second from left) with the cast of Dad’s Army, from the 1971 Christmas Special Battle of the Giants!

Nicholas de Jongh, in a tribute written after Le Mesurier’s death, suggested that it was in the role of Wilson that Le Mesurier became a star. His interaction with Arthur Lowe’s character Captain George Mainwaring was described by The Times as “a memorable part of one of television’s most popular shows”. Tise Vahimagi, writing for the British Film Institute’s Screenonline, agreed, and commented that “it was the hesitant exchanges of one-upmanship between Le Mesurier’s Wilson, a figure of delicate gentility, and Arthur Lowe’s pompous, middle class platoon leader Captain Mainwaring, that added to its finest moments”. Le Mesurier enjoyed making the series, particularly the fortnight the cast would spend in Thetford each year filming the outside scenes. The programme lasted for nine series over nine years, and covered eighty episodes, ending in 1977.

During the filming of the series in 1969, Le Mesurier was flown to Venice over a series of weekends to appear in the film Midas Run, an Alf Kjellin-directed crime film that also starred Richard Crenna, Anne Heywood and Fred Astaire. Le Mesurier became friends with Astaire during the filming and they often dined together in a local cafe while watching horse-racing on television. In 1971 Norman Cohen directed a feature film of Dad’s Army; Le Mesurier also appeared as Wilson in a stage adaptation, which toured the UK in 1975–76. Following the success of Dad’s Army, Le Mesurier recorded the single “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” with “Hometown” on the reverse side (the latter with Arthur Lowe). This, and an album, Dad’s Army, featuring the whole cast, was released on the Warner label in 1975.[

In between his performances in Dad’s Army, Le Mesurier acted in films, including the role of the prison governor opposite Noël Coward in the 1969 Peter Collinson-directed The Italian Job. The cinema historian Amy Sargeant likened Le Mesurier’s role to the “mild demeanour” of his Sergeant Wilson character.In 1970, Le Mesurier appeared in Ralph Thomas’s Doctor in Trouble as the purser; he also made an appearance in Vincente Minnelli’s On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, a romantic fantasy musical.

In 1971 Le Mesurier played the lead role in Dennis Potter’s television play Traitor, in which he portrayed a “boozy British aristocrat who became a spy for the Soviets”; his performance won him a British Academy of Film and Television Arts “Best Television Actor” award. Writing for the British Film Institute, Sergio Angelini considered “Le Mesurier is utterly compelling throughout in an atypical role”. Chris Dunkley, writing in The Times, described the performance as “a superbly persuasive portrait, made vividly real by one of the best performances Mr Mesurier [sic] has ever given”. The reviewer for The Sunday Times agreed, saying that Le Mesurier, “after a lifetime supporting other actors with the strength of a pit-prop, gets the main part; he looks, sounds and feels exactly right”. Reviewing for The Guardian, Nancy Banks-Smith called the role “his Hamlet”, and said that it was worth waiting for. Although delighted to have won the award, Le Mesurier commented that the aftermath proved “something of an anticlimax. No exciting offers of work came in”.

Le Mesurier made a cameo appearance in Val Guest’s 1972 sex comedy Au Pair Girls, and starred alongside Warren Mitchell and Dandy Nichols in Bob Kellett’s The Alf Garnett Saga. In 1974 he played a police inspector in a similar Val Guest comedy, Confessions of a Window Cleaner, alongside Robin Askwith and Antony Booth. The following year he also narrated Bod, an animated children’s programme from the BBC; there were thirteen episodes in total.


In 1977 Le Mesurier portrayed Jacob Marley in a BBC television adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which starred Michael Hordern as Ebenezer Scrooge;Sergio Angelini, writing for the British Film Institute about Le Mesurier’s portrayal, considered that “although never frightening, he does exert a strong sense of melancholy, his every move and inflection seemingly tinged with regret and remorse”. In 1979 he portrayed Sir Gawain in Walt Disney’s Unidentified Flying Oddball, directed by Russ Mayberry, and co-starring Dennis Dugan, Jim Dale and Kenneth More. The film, an adaptation of Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, was hailed by Time Out as “an intelligent film with a cohesive plot and an amusing script” and cited it as “one of the better Disney attempts to hop on the sci-fi bandwagon”. The reviewers praised the cast, particularly Kenneth More’s Arthur and Le Mesurier’s Gawain, which they said were “rather touchingly portrayed as friends who have grown old together”.

Le Mesurier played The Wise Old Bird in the 1980 BBC Radio 4 series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and appeared on the same station as Bilbo Baggins in the 1981 radio version of The Lord of the Rings. In the spring of 1980 he took the role of David Bliss alongside Constance Cummings—as Judith Bliss—in a production of Noël Coward’s 1920s play Hay Fever.] Writing for The Observer, Robert Cushman thought that Le Mesurier played the role with “deeply grizzled torpor”,while Michael Billington, reviewing for The Guardian, saw him as a “grey, gentle wisp of a man, full of half-completed gestures and seraphic smiles”.

He took on the role of Father Mowbray in Granada Television’s 1981 adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. He guest-starred in episodes of the British comedy television series The Goodies, and in an early episode of Hi-de-Hi!. His final film appearance was also Peter Sellers’s final cinema role, The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, which was completed just months before Sellers’s death in July 1980.

In 1982 Le Mesurier reprised the role of Arthur Wilson for It Sticks Out Half a Mile, a radio sequel to Dad’s Army, in which Wilson had become the bank manager of the Frambourne-on-Sea branch, while Arthur Lowe’s character, Captain George Mainwaring, was trying to apply for a loan to renovate the local pier. The death of Lowe in April 1982 meant that only a pilot episode was recorded, and the project was suspended. It was revived in 1982 with Lowe’s role replaced by two other Dad’s Army cast members: Pike, played by Ian Lavender, and Hodges, played by Bill Pertwee. A pilot and twelve episodes were subsequently recorded, and broadcast in 1984 Le Mesurier also teamed up with another ex-Dad’s Army colleague, Clive Dunn, to record a novelty single, “There Ain’t Much Change from a Pound These Days”/”After All These Years”, which had been written by Le Mesurier’s stepson, David Malin. The single was released on KA Records in 1982.

He appeared opposite Anthony Hopkins in a four-part television series, A Married Man, in March 1983, before undertaking the narration on the short film The Passionate Pilgrim, an Eric Morecambe vehicle, which was Morecambe’s last film before his death.

Personal life

JOHN LE MESURIER Wishes it to be known that he conked out on November 15th. He sadly misses family and friends.
Self-penned death notice in The Times, 16 November 1983
In 1939, Le Mesurier accepted a role in the Robert Morley play Goodness, How Sad!, directed by June Melville—whose father Frederick owned a number of theatres, including the Lyceum, Prince’s and Brixton. Melville and Le Mesurier soon began a romance, and were married in April 1940. Le Mesurier was conscripted into the army in September 1940; after his demobilisation in 1946, he discovered that his wife had become an alcoholic: “She became careless about appointments and haphazard professionally”. As a result, the couple separated and were divorced in 1949.

In June 1947, Le Mesurier went with fellow actor Geoffrey Hibbert to the Players’ Theatre in London, where among the performers was Hattie Jacques Le Mesurier and Jacques began to see each other regularly; Le Mesurier was still married, albeit estranged from his wife. In 1949, when his divorce came through, Jacques proposed to Le Mesurier, asking him, “Don’t you think it’s about time we got married?”. The couple married in November 1949 and had two sons, Robin and Kim.

Jacques began an affair in 1962 with her driver, John Schofield, who gave her the attention and support that Le Mesurier did not. When Jacques decided to move Schofield into the family home, Le Mesurier moved into a separate room and tried to repair the marriage. He later commented about this period: “I could have walked out, but, whatever my feelings, I loved Hattie and the children and I was certain—I had to be certain—that we could repair the damage”. The affair caused a downturn in his health; he collapsed on holiday in Tangier in 1963 and was hospitalised in Gibraltar. He returned to London to find the situation between his wife and her lover was unchanged, which caused a relapse.

During the final stages of the breakdown of his marriage, Le Mesurier met Joan Malin at the Establishment club in Soho in 1963. The following year he moved out of his marital house, and that day proposed to Joan, who accepted his offer. Le Mesurier allowed Jacques to bring a divorce suit on grounds of his own infidelity, to ensure that the press blamed him for the break-up, thus avoiding any negative publicity for Jacques. Le Mesurier and Malin married in March 1966. A few months after they were married, Joan began a relationship with Tony Hancock, and left Le Mesurier to move in with the comedian. Hancock was a self-confessed alcoholic by this time, and was verbally and physically abusive to Joan during their relationship.After a year together, with Hancock’s violence towards her worsening, Joan attempted suicide; she subsequently realised that she could no longer live with Hancock and returned to her husband. Despite this, Le Mesurier remained friends with Hancock, calling him “a comic of true genius, capable of great warmth and generosity, but a tormented and unhappy man”. Without Le Mesurier’s knowledge, Joan resumed her affair with Hancock and, when the comic moved to Australia in 1968, she planned to follow him if he was able to overcome his alcoholism. She abandoned these plans and remained with Le Mesurier after Hancock committed suicide on 25 June 1968.

Le Mesurier was a heavy drinker, but was never noticeably drunk. In 1977 he collapsed in Australia and flew home, where he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and ordered to stop drinking. Until then he had not considered himself an alcoholic; he accepted that “it was the cumulative effect over the years that had done the damage”. It was a year and a half before he drank alcohol again, when he avoided spirits and drank only beer. Jacques claimed that his calculated vagueness was the result of his dependence on cannabis, although according to Le Mesurier the drug was not to his taste; he smoked it only during his period of abstinence from alcohol. Le Mesurier’s favoured pastime was visiting the jazz clubs around Soho, such as Ronnie Scott’s, and he observed that “listening to artists like Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson or Alan Clare always made life seem that little bit brighter”.

Towards the end of his life Le Mesurier wrote his autobiography, A Jobbing Actor; the book was published in 1984, after his death. Le Mesurier’s health visibly declined from July 1983 when he was hospitalised for a short time after suffering a haemorrhage. When the condition recurred later in the year he was taken to Ramsgate Hospital; after saying to his wife, “It’s all been rather lovely”, he slipped into a coma and died on 15 November 1983, aged 71. His remains were cremated, and the ashes buried at the Church of St. George the Martyr, Church Hill, Ramsgate. His epitaph reads: “John Le Mesurier. Much loved actor. Resting.”[ His self-penned death notice in The Times of 16 November 1983 stated that he had “conked out” and that he “sadly misses family and friends”.

After Le Mesurier’s death fellow comedian Eric Sykes commented: “I never heard a bad word said against him. He was one of the great drolls of our time”. Le Mesurier’s fellow Dad’s Army actor Bill Pertwee mourned the loss of his friend, saying, “It’s a shattering loss. He was a great professional, very quiet but with a lovely sense of humour”. Director Peter Cotes, writing in The Guardian, called him one of Britain’s “most accomplished screen character actors”, while The Times obituarist observed that he “could lend distinction to the smallest part”.

The Guardian reflected on Le Mesurier’s popularity, observing that “No wonder so many whose lives were very different from his own came to be so enormously fond of him”. A memorial service was held on 16 February 1984 at the “Actors’ Church”, St Paul’s, Covent Garden, at which Bill Pertwee gave the eulogy.

Approach to acting
The character he cumulatively created will be remembered when others more famous are forgotten, not just for the skill of his playing but because he somehow embodied a symbolic British reaction to the whirlpool of the modern world—endlessly perplexed by the dizzying and incoherent pattern of events, but doing his best to ensure that resentment never showed.
—The Guardian, 16 November 1983
Le Mesurier took a relaxed approach to acting, saying, “You know the way you get jobbing gardeners? Well, I’m a jobbing actor … as long as they pay me I couldn’t care less if my name is billed above or below the title”. Le Mesurier played a wide range of parts, and became known as “an indispensable figure in the gallery of second-rank players which were the glory of the British film industry in its more prolific days”. He felt his characterisations owed “a lot to my customary expression of bewildered innocence” and tried to stress for many of his roles that his parts were those of “a decent chap all at sea in a chaotic world not of his own making”.

Philip French of The Observer considered that when playing a representative of bureaucracy, Le Mesurier “registered something … complex. A feeling of exasperation, disturbance, anxiety [that] constantly lurked behind that handsome bloodhound face”. The impression he gave in these roles became an “inimitable brand of bewildered persistence under fire which Le Mesurier made his own”. The Times noted of him that although he was best known for his comedic roles, he, “could be equally effective in straight parts”, as evidenced by his BAFTA-award-winning role in Traitor. Director Peter Cotes agreed, adding, “he had depths unrealised through the mechanical pieces in which he generally appeared”;[38] while Philip Oakes considered that, “single-handed, he has made more films watchable, even absorbing, than anyone else around”.

Le Mesurier’s second and third marriages have been the subject of two BBC Four biographical films, the 2008 Hancock and Joan on Joan Le Mesurier’s affair with Tony Hancock—with Le Mesurier played by Alex Jennings—and the 2011 Hattie on Jacques’s affair with John Schofield—with Le Mesurier played by Robert Bathurst. In We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story, a 2015 comedy drama about the making of Dad’s Army, Le Mesurier was portrayed by Julian Sands.

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