5th February 2024
BOVTS is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Ian Lavender, who trained at the School in the 1960s. Landing the role of Private Pike in Dad’s Army shortly after his graduation from Bristol, Ian was familiar to millions as the last surviving cast member of the hit BBC sitcom.
Ian trained at BOVTS on the two-year acting course between 1965 and 1967, before spending several months in repertory theatre at Canterbury and performing in televised plays. He was cast in Dad’s Army early in the spring of 1968 – just weeks after his twenty-second birthday.
Newspaper clippings within the BOVTS archive tell of Ian’s optimism about the role he had landed. He commented to Birmingham’s Sunday Mercury on his upcoming appearance, “This part is useful because it means I shall be seen on television six times in six weeks…. there are so many important characters in ‘Dad’s Army’ that everyone has a fair bite of the script without it being too much to handle. I am enjoying it very much.”
Little did Ian know then that Dad’s Army would become one of the BBC’s most successful and long-running sitcoms. He would go on to star in the entire 80-episode nine-series run, through to 1977, playing arguably one of the comedy’s best-loved characters.
He continued to work in theatre, radio and television throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2001, he joined BBC’s EastEnders, initially playing the role of Derek Harkinson for four years, thereby becoming familiar to a new generation. He continued to act in theatre and cameo TV roles throughout the 2010s.
Ian is remembered fondly at BOVTS on visits in more recent years, and the School extends its condolences to his family and friends.