The 69-year-old son of Dad’s Army star Arnold Ridley has revealed his father’s role in the hit TV sitcom saved him after the war.
Bath-based Nicolas Ridley said playing the doddery Private Charles Godfrey in the much-loved BBC comedy gave his dad his ‘confidence back’ after the horror of the conflict and provided the family with ‘financial security’.
Nicolas, a teacher, added that his father would have been ‘delighted’ to see his great grand-niece Daisy Ridley follow in his acting footsteps but may have ‘advised against’ her pursing such a ‘tough’ discipline.
Arnold Ridley’s son Nicolas said playing the doddery Private Charles Godfrey in Dad’s Army gave his father his ‘confidence back’ after the horror of the conflict, pictured left during the war and right in the show
Arnold Ridley, pictured far left, during filming of the hit BBC sitcom Dad’s Army in the 1970s
Daisy, Arnold’s cousin once removed, has found fame at 23 playing Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Speaking to Daily Mirror, Nicolas said: ‘If Daisy had asked my father about a career on the stage, I think he might have advised against it because he knew how tough it could be.
‘But he would have been delighted to see her enjoying such richly deserved success.’
Hollywood starlet Daisy, who grew up in London, has previously spoken about how Arnold helped influence her career. She told Entertainment Weekly: ‘My great uncle was in Dad’s Army.
‘They’re redoing it as a film. Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore [in the Harry Potter movies], is playing who my great uncle played. Both my parents are creative. My dad did act when he was younger, but they’re both very creative.’
Arnold Ridley pictured with his only child, son Nicolas, from his third marriage to Althea Parker
The cast of the new Dad’s Army film, pictured from left, Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring, Bill Nighy as Wilson, Tom Courtenay as Corporal Jones, Bill Paterson as Fraser, Michael Gambon as Godfrey, Blake Harrison as Pike and Danny Mays as Walker
The Dad’s Army film premieres in London this evening and hopes to bring the British classic to a new audience. Acclaimed actors including Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and Mike Gatiss star along newer faces including The Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison and Daniel Mays in the feature-length remake.
Arnold Ridley’s only son, Nicolas, now 69
The programme offered much-needed respite for Arnold during the late 1960s and 1970s.
He was the only member of the cast to have served in both world wars, as well as signing up for the Home Guard.
Nicolas said that the show helped his father deal with ‘financial anxiety’ and his ‘lost confidence’.
He said: ‘I’m immensely grateful to David Croft [programme creator] for taking the risk of casting a very frail, old man who everybody else thought would die by the end of the series.’
Arnold volunteered for the Army in 1914 at the age of 18 but was rejected because he had a broken toe.
He was accepted a year later to the 6th Somerset Light Infantry and posted to France.
Within days of arriving at his base he was hit by shrapnel and shot through the thigh.
Arnold later returned to the front from convalescence only to be sent over the top twice during the Battle of Somme in 1916.
During a second attack, at Gueudecourt, now as a Lance Corporal, Arnold’s battalion tried to push back enemy troops with bayonets and bombs.
He was knocked to the ground by a rifle blow to the head.
Arnold was lunged at by a German soldier carrying a bayonet, which sliced into his groin. A second blow pierced his left hand and wrist.
Arnold came round in a field hospital but it took 15 operations to save his hand.
Writing about his experiences at the time, Arnold said: ‘I always remember my disappointment the next morning when I found my hand was still on.
Arnold Ridley starred in 80 episodes of Dad’s Army until 1977. The show peaked at 18 million viewers and earned Arnold an OBE
It is hoped that the new Dad’s Army film will bring the show to new audiences, pictured actors Toby Jones and Bill Nighy
Bill Nighy and Blake Harrison pictured during filming of the new Dad’s Army movie, which premiers tonight
‘I hoped I’d been maimed for life because I knew that they couldn’t send me back. I was 20 then, and it’s not a right thought for a young man to hope he’s been maimed for life.’
He was classed as an invalid and discharged on medical grounds before joining the Home Guard.
Reflecting on his father’s life during the war, Nicolas previously told MailOnline: ‘He was angry and bitter for some time after the First World War and the horrors of trench warfare stayed with him all his life.
‘But a mark of his great courage was that he found a way to deal with an awful lot of it. He survived, both mentally and morally, because he was a thoroughly kind, gentle, decent man.’
Arnold suffered horrific nightmares and regularly woke drenched in sweat for many years after the war. If he was disturbed, his first instinct was to attack.
Daisy, Arnold’s cousin once removed, has found fame at 23 playing Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Nicolas said his father was ‘terrified’ he would ‘black out on stage’ but he went to star in a number of hit shows, Arnold pictured far right
Dad’s Army ran for nine series from July 1968 to November 1977 and is still aired on the BBC
Nicolas recalled an incident as a child when he was throttled by his father. He said: ‘He needed his afternoon sleep and I remember, as a child of five or six, waking him up suddenly.
‘He instantly had his hands round my throat. It was a most appalling moment for both of us.
‘We could never wake him suddenly because he’d go straight into “trench mode’’, even in his 80s.
‘We would have to knock on the sitting room door first and warn him that we were coming in. The involuntary reactions were still there.’
Nicolas said his father was ‘terrified’ he would ‘black out on stage’ but he went to star in a number of hit shows.
He starred in 80 episodes of Dad’s Army until 1977. The show peaked at 18 million viewers and earned Arnold an OBE.
Arnold also starred in the Carry On Girls film and Coronation Street before his death in 1984, at the age of 88.