Video: Former Thetford scout recalls his Dad’s Army role alongside Clive Dunn
16:00 09 November 2012
A former Thetford Scout who was chosen to film alongside Dad’s Army star Clive Dunn has paid tribute to the “great entertainer”.
Tim Ball was just 14 when he played a Sea Scout in the episode Come In, Your Time is Up, in 1975 in which Walmington-On-Sea’s Home Guard attempted to bring ashore a German Luftwaffe aircraft crew who had bailed out into a nearby lake.
Mr Ball, now 52, spent a week on set at the Stanford Training Area and credits Mr Dunn, better known as Lance Corporal Jack Jones, with making him feel at home.
“I bagged a week off school because they needed someone to play the bugle, and that was me,” he said. “We used to have breakfast at the Bell Hotel and then went out on a bus to the set.
“There was me on my own, a 14-year-old boy, and everybody knew each other and he would make sure I wasn’t just left alone. He would say ‘come and have a cup of tea’ and when I did my filming, and I was extremely nervous, he said ‘you can do this’ and gave me a bit of encouragement and a bit of a jolt.”
Mr Ball, who works at Baxter Healthcare in Thetford, believes he was also on set when news of Mr Dunn’s OBE was announced in the paper.
“There were lots of cheers,” he said. “I also had the honour of meeting him again on the 40th anniversary at the Bressingham Museum and he remembered the episode and we had a bit of a chat about it – he was the same jovial, approachable guy.
“It’s sad because he was such a great entertainer and Dad’s Army is timeless and people will watch it for evermore because it’s so wholesome.”
Mr Dunn started out with a number of small film roles in the 1930s before the war intervened. He served in Greece before being captured and spent four years as a prisoner of war.
After the war he resumed his career and in 1968 landed the role of Corporal Jones in the much-loved sitcom about life on the home front. He also had a number one hit in 1970 with Grandad and went on to play the title character in a children’s show of the same name.
Mr Dunn is believed to have been ill for several weeks and died in Portugal, where he lived, following complications from an operation earlier this week.
Chairman of the Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford, Stuart Wright, said he met Mr Dunn on a handful of occasions, the last of which was in March at a memorial service for Dad’s Army writer David Croft.
“Whenever I saw him around people they were always sharing a joke and from what people have said, when they were filming, it seemed to be that he was always ready to hold a joke,” he said.
The museum is now hoping to purchase the butcher’s van used by L/Cpl Jack Jones, which will be auctioned by Bonhams in December.
The 1935 Ford Box van is estimated to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000 and the museum is in talks with benefactors who may be able to lend the money, to be paid back through fundraising at a later date.