​Sad farewell to a lovely man of comedy, Ian Lavender - Vladimir McTavish

Actor Ian Lavender, who has died aged 77Actor Ian Lavender, who has died aged 77
Actor Ian Lavender, who has died aged 77
​Many regular attendees at the Edinburgh Fringe will have been saddened to hear of the death this week of Ian Lavender, otherwise Private Pike of Dad’s Army.

For a number of years, he performed a series of one-man shows, where he he would share anecdotes about his time on the classic sitcom of the early seventies.

Likewise, anyone who was at Murrayfield for Scotland v Wales games of that era will have been equaling saddened to learn of the passing of Barry John, who was one of the greatest rugby players of all time.

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One of the worst aspects to growing older is seeing your boyhood heroes dying off. Last month, the great Franz Beckenbauer and the imperious JPR Williams both passed away. As a young fan of football and rugby, I was in awe of them both.

I was lucky enough to see both JPR and Barry John play live. I was on the old open terrace at Murrayfield for the Scotland v Wales game in 1971 (only posh people got a seat in those days).

John was like poetry in motion, the subtlest rugby player I ever saw. He was the Finn Russell of his day. He had the same way of making the most outrageous move look easy.

Even as a Scotland fan, one could not help but be in awe of his talent. If Finn is the self-styled Messi of rugby, Barry was its Pele.

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I was even more fortunate to meet Ian Lavender a number of times. I got to know him quite well around ten years ago, when he performed those Fringe shows of his memories of his days on Dad’s Army.

He was a genuinely lovely man, truly humble and was wonderful company. He was totally at ease with the notion that his place in the public consciousness was forever summed up in six words.

Whenever people shouted “stupid boy” as he walked past them on George Street, his response was invariably a smile and a wave.

I feel privileged to have known the man. Rest in peace, Ian.

When you reached the Pearly Gates and Saint Peter asked you to give him your name, I can picture Arthur Lowe, alias Captain Mainwaring barking “Don’t tell him, Pike.”

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