|Born||16th February 1946|
|First appearance||The Man and the Hour|
|Last appearance||Never Too Old|
|Series||1 - 9|
Arthur Ian Lavender (born 16th February 1946), better known as Ian Lavender, is an English stage, film and television actor, best known for his role as Private Frank Pike in the British sitcom Dad's Army. He is the last surviving cast member to have played a character in the platoon.
Early life and acting career
Born in Birmingham, England, Lavender went straight from Bournville Boys Technical School (where he had appeared in many school dramatic productions, his roles including playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet) to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, with the assistance of a grant from the City of Birmingham. He quickly made his mark as a talented young actor and following his graduation in 1967 appeared on stage in Canterbury. His first television appearance was as the lead in a Rediffusion play entitled Half Hour Story: Flowers at my Feet in 1968.
Dad's Army and other acting workIn 1968, Lavender was cast as Private Pike, the youngest member and 'stupid boy' of the platoon in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army. This made him a household name and gave him the great advantage of working alongside a number of experienced actors during his formative years, helping him to hone his acting skills. He appeared in the entire run of the series, and in the spinoff film released in 1971.
After Dad's Army, Lavender returned to the theatre, including a role in a production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice starring Dustin Hoffman. Between 1971 and 1973 Lavender joined Dad's Army colleague Arthur Lowe on the BBC radio comedy Parsley Sidings. He also appeared in films and television series, one of which (Mr Big, 1977) featured him starring alongside Peter Jones and Prunella Scales. During the 1970s he appeared as a supporting actor in a number of British 'low farce' films, including one Carry On film - Carry On Behind (1975). He was reunited with producer David Croft for the television series Come Back Mrs. Noah (1977–78, co-written by Croft with Jeremy Lloyd), though it was unsuccessful. A revival of The Glums (1978–79), at first as part of a Bruce Forsyth variety series, proved rather more satisfactory, being adapted from radio scripts for the 1950s radio series Take It From Here radio series which were written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden.
In 1983, he revived the role of Frank Pike in the BBC Radio sitcom It Sticks Out Half a Mile. The sitcom was a radio-sequel to Dad's Army, but ran for only one series. Lavender then appeared in several other TV comedy shows during the 1980s, including two episodes of Yes Minister as Dr Richard Cartwright. He played a lead role in the short-lived The Hello Goodbye Man (1984), as the inept salesman Denis Ailing, and also appeared on ITV's television game show Cluedo (1990), based on the board game. During the 1990s Lavender continued to appear occasionally in television comedy roles including a bit-part as a burglar alarm salesman in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. He made an appearance in Goodnight Sweetheart as two different parallel universe versions of the time-travelling lead character's son Michael.
Recent acting career
In 2001 Lavender joined the BBC soap opera EastEnders, playing the role of Derek Harkinson, a gay friend of Pauline Fowler. He continued in EastEnders for four years, with storylines mainly involving the Fowler family, before leaving the serial in 2005. Lavender then toured with The Rocky Horror Show musical, playing the Narrator. He also played the part of a patient in the 5 May 2007 episode of Casualty on BBC. In late 2007, he toured in the comedy play Donkey's Years. In May 2008, Lavender appeared in the BBC documentary series Comedy Map of Britain. He also appeared on BBC 1's The One Show on Thursday 31 July 2008. Over Christmas 2008, Lavender appeared in Celebrity Mastermind on BBC1. As presenter John Humphrys asked his name, fellow contestant Rick Wakeman shouted 'Don't tell him, Pike!', a reference to Captain Mainwaring's most famous line from the Dad's Army episode The Deadly Attachment. At the start of 2009, Lavender appeared as a guest character in an episode of the CBBC sitcom, The Legend of Dick and Dom. Lavender then starred in the film, 31 North 62 East (released in September 2009), an independent psychological thriller starring John Rhys-Davies, Marina Sirtis, Heather Peace and Craig Fairbrass.
Recently, he appeared as Monsignor Howard in the West End theatre production of Sister Act. The musical opened at the London Palladium on 2 June 2009, and ran through to October 2010. In January 2011, Lavender appeared at the Slapstick Silent Comedy Festival in Bristol, introducing Sherlock, Jr., a 1924 silent film directed by and starring Buster Keaton.
Lavender has continued to be associated with Dad's Army, and still takes part in occasional fan conventions and cast reunions. He made a variety of appearances during 2008 in connection with the 40th anniversary of Dad's Army. These included a reunion with surviving cast members in July, and an appearance on BBC1's Jonathan Ross Salutes Dad's Army in August. Lavender also recorded a special introduction for a newly recoloured episode of the series (Room at the Bottom) which was broadcast on 13th December 2008.Lavender appeared in the new Dad's Army film as Brigadier Pritchard. Because of his work on Dad's Army, Ian was invited to appear on VE Day 70: A Party to Remember for the VE Day 70th anniversary commemorations, where he read aloud the words of Ex-Home Guard volunteer, Bill Miles. As Ian stepped onto the stage to do his piece, the sound of "Don't tell him, Pike!" suddenly came loud and clear from a man in the audience.
- Lavender has been previously married to actress Sue Kerchiss. He married his second wife, the American-born Miki Hardy (who is three years his senior) just six days after his bladder cancer was diagnosed in 1993. On this, Lavender has said "We had been living together for 16 years and it was something I should have done a long time before, these things change you, they help you to see what is important in life." The bladder tumour was operated on successfully and, although Lavender has regular check-ups, doctors seem confident the cancer will not return. Lavender also survived a heart attack in the summer of 2004.
- He is a lifelong supporter of Aston Villa, and when filming began on Dad's Army he was allowed to choose Frank Pike's scarf from an array in the BBC wardrobe. He chose a claret and blue one - Aston Villa's club colours.
- Following the death of Pamela Cundell on 14th February 2015, he and Frank Williams are the last surviving major cast members.