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Do You Think That's Wise?

The Life of John Le Mesurier

Do You Think That's Wise?
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Best known for starring in Dad's Army, where his Sergeant Wilson was the languid, rakish, distracted foil to Arthur Lowe's pompous, chippy Captain Mainwaring, John Le Mesurier is one of our most loved character actors. 'Do you think that's wise, sir?' and 'Would you mind awfully...?" are just two of Sergeant Wilson's expressions that sum up his unorthodox, unruffled approach to service life.

But, occasionally, life mirrors art and there was much of Sergeant Wilson in 'Le Mez', as he was known to friends and family. Just as Wilson appeared to enjoy a close -- but unmarried -- acquaintance with Private Pike's mum, so Le Mesurier had three unconventional marriages, one with the comic actress Hattie Jacques. His third wife left him for an affair with Tony Hancock and he tended to prioritise an early-morning scan of the Sporting Life above rehearsals. A phone call from Le Mez was often to suggest, 'Playtime...?' always delivered in his irresistible drawl.

Graham McCann's books include biographies of Terry-Thomas, Frankie Howerd and Morecambe and Wise, and books on Fawlty Towers and Associated Scripts. He lives in Cambridge.
Aurum Press; Read online