Dad's Army Wiki
Private James Frazer
Occupation Series 1 + 2: Shop Keeper
Series 3 - 9: Undertaker
Affiliations Royal Navy
Home Guard
The Caledonian Society (President)
Series information
First seen The Man and the Hour
Last Seen Never Too Old
Portrayed by John Laurie (TV Series, 1971 film)
Bill Paterson (2016 film)
David Hayman (Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes)
List of Characters
"We're doomed - doomed! "
Frazer[[Dad’s army|[src]]]

Private James Frazer also known as "Taffy", portrayed by John Laurie (25 March 1897-23 June 1980) was born in 1882 and was a sailor, then shop-keeper (possibly of a shop that sold coffins although in the first episode of the series he describes his business as a Philatelist's Shop (selling collectible postage stamps)), and later the funeral undertaker of Walmington-On-Sea. He served as a private of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard.


He was born in 1882 and grew up on the "wild and lonely" Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

During the First World War he was a Chief Petty Officer (and cook) in the Navy, serving in the Battle of Jutland. (TV: Big Guns) He also mentions being one of the mine sweepers and is shown to be a crack shot due to that although he has to wave the gun up and down, because as he says "It's the only way I can shoot sir, this is the motion of the sea"

While sailing the South China sea, he studied the art of hypnosis which later allowed him to hypnotise Lance-Corporal Jones. (TV: When Did You Last See Your Money?)

After leaving the navy he settled in Walmington-On-Sea to run a philatelist's shop with a hobby of making coffins. He later joined the LDV. (TV: The Man and the Hour)

He sports a "Scotland forever" tattoo on his arm which he claims "cost a fortune". (TV: Operation Kilt)


Frazer is a pessimistic, dour, trouble-stirring, exaggerating, wild-eyed Scottish undertaker. This may be linked to his desolate upbringing.

A notoriously miserable and miserly soul, Frazer is known for his bleak, pessimistic outlook on life. In any situation where circumstances seem bleak for the platoon, he will never fail to find more reasons to feel doom. He will often find the time in the various predicaments that the platoon face to observe that their potential fate is "a terrible way to die", to note that "we're doomed" when peril is awaiting them or to regale the platoon with an anecdote of a much similar experience he is aware of that ended rather bleakly for all concerned. He also has quite a line in dark, atmospheric and rather long-winded tales which start promisingly with the lure of supernatural horrors and terrors, only to ultimately prove disappointing and end rather mundanely, such as the tales of 'The Auld Empty Barn' (there was nothing in it) and his friend Jethro, who apparently fell victim to a long-lasting curse that ensured that he lived to a ripe old age.

His main rivalries are with the other ageing members in the platoon, notably Corporal Jones, who fights back, and Private Godfrey, who doesn't. He possesses a curious fascination with women who have large, thick thighs.

Frazer does show a more generous side to his character when he saves Private Godfrey's cottage from being demolished to make way for a runway. When all hope seems lost, Frazer saves the day by threatening to reveal a senior politician's past indiscretions, although in typical Frazer style he doesn't let on that he was the hero of the hour.


Frazer makes no secret of his desires for increased rank and power within the platoon. To that end, Frazer is frequently negative and hyper-critical of his superior officers and their decisions, and clearly considers Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson and Lance-Corporal Jones barely fit for command.

When given even a little bit of power, however (or even just the taste of it), it frequently goes straight to his head. Notably when, as an exercise in the difficulties of leadership, Frazer is given temporary command of the platoon for a few days. Far from educating him in the pressures that Mainwaring faced he merely becomes even more exceedingly arrogant and tyrannical than before. (TV: If the Cap Fits...)

That being said he does have grounds for his conviction. When Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson are incapacitated, Frazer declares that he is Jones' second in command; something which goes undisputed by the rest of the platoon. (TV: Something Nasty in the Vault) Furthermore, he was for a short time promoted to Lance-Corporal. (TV: A Stripe for Frazer)


To reach his ends, Frazer is somewhat two-faced; he has a Machiavellian tendency to doubt people and their situations, and is usually responsible for gossiping and sowing the seeds of unease or insubordination amongst the other members of the platoon. His is usually the loudest voice of condemnation or criticism in any given situation - however, if and when his current target triumphs or is validated, he will instantly alter his position with a hasty "I never doubted you for a second", to ensure that he's never on the losing side.

A prime example of this is when he acted as voice of condemnation regarding Private Godfrey's conscientious objection and apparent 'cowardice' during the First World War, only for Frazer to immediately change his position when it transpires that Godfrey is nevertheless a decorated war hero. (TV: Branded) Again when Pike is trapped in barbed wire Frazer criticises Godfrey for fleeing "at the first sign of trouble", only to dub him "a man of steel... just like I've always said" when he sees Godfrey bypass the mine-infested beach on his own. (TV: Sgt - Save My Boy!)

Personal Details[]

Full Name: John Paton Laurie

Born: 25 March 1897, Dumfries, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, UK

Died: 23 June 1980, Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire, England, UK (Aged 83)

Cause of Death: Emphysema