It is one of the most famous, perhaps the most famous, lines in the history of comedy.
Episode 54, the first of the sixth series, of Dad’s Army. A captured Nazi officer, annoyed by Private Pike, wants to put the young man on his hit-list. He asks for his name.
Captain Mainwaring’s barked response – “Don’t tell him, Pike,” has entered the comedic pantheon.
That scene was recorded on Friday, June 22, 1973. And as that legendary episode was being filmed, throughout the day you can be sure the cast were making sure they kept up to speed with what was happening at Lord’s on the second day of the Test match.
New Zealand, chasing their first ever win over England, were well on top. Having bowled England out for 253 they spent the second day advancing to 200 for three, thanks mainly to a ton from Bevan Congdon.
And the toiling of England bowlers John Snow, Geoff Arnold, Chris Old, Norman Gifford, Ray Illingworth and Graham Roope was lamented by the Dad’s Army cast as they received updates while putting ‘The Deadly Attachment’ in the can.
Most aptly, in a TV series the appeal of which is rooted in its archetypal Englishness, many of the actors loved their cricket.
Birmingham-born Ian Lavender (Private Pike) was a talented wicket-keeper for Bournville Tec and Barnt Green CC and a regular spectator at Edgbaston before his acting career took him away.
Arthur Lowe (Captain Mainwaring) was connected to Hayfield Cricket Club in the Peak District.
Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey) followed Somerset avidly while John Le Mesurier (Sergeant Wilson) loved the game.
Bill Pertwee (the air-raid warden), was a huge fan – and had an extraordinary claim to cricketing fame, as Ian Lavender recalls.
“Bill was bag-man on the first Indian tour of England after the war,” he said. “I don’t know how he got that job!
“But Bill was a keen cricket man as a lot of the cast were. Arnold loved his cricket. John did. Arthur liked it – we played a match at Hayfield to raise money for the pavilion.
“I broke Bill’s toe in the nets at Trent Bridge once. We were doing Dad’s Army in the theatre at Nottingham and Bill and I went to the ground and asked if there was any possibility of the cast of Dad’s Army using the nets for an hour. They made us very welcome.
“I wasn’t a bowler but could hurl it down. Bill was wearing pumps and the only ball anywhere near the stumps took him right on the toe. He limped a lot on stage for a while.”
With such cricket devotees among the cast there was much delight when, late in 1970, an episode centred on a cricket match – with a guest appearance from Yorkshire and England fast bowler Fred Trueman. Much fun was had while filming that one, not least by Lavender.
“I was ever so disappointed because the producer, David Croft, wouldn’t let me do anything in the match,” he said. “He wouldn’t let me keep wicket to Fred. I pleaded ‘just let me take one ball’.
“But it was one of my favourite episodes. And one of my proudest moments was bowling Arthur first ball.
‘‘It wasn’t tricked – and it was the first ball. The audience spontaneously applauded and they wouldn’t have done that to a retake or if the bail had been tugged off with a bit of string. I nailed it.”
Bowling Arthur Lowe is all very well, of course, but Lavender the wicket-keeper has more illustrious victims under his belt. ‘Mainwairing b Pike’ is one thing. But how about ‘Barrington st Lavender b Benaud’?
The worlds of acting and cricket are closely entwined and Lavender has played in charity matches with many fine cricketers.
“I count myself very very lucky to have met so many great players and even come to know some as friends,” he said. “And to have had some lovely times along the way.
“I remember once playing in the same team as Richie Benaud. I asked who was going to keep wicket to the great man and, to my horror, was told it was me. I said ‘I’ll make myself look an idiot’.
“But Kenny Barrington said ‘Don’t worry, he won’t put himself on ’til I come into bat’.
“That’s what happened – and Kenny called every ball. I was only a yard behind him and, as Benaud let go, Kenny called ‘wrong un, flipper, wrong un, googly’.
“He made me look brilliant. I received an awful lot of compliments that afternoon.
“Then when Kenny got to 50, he said to me ‘next over mate...’ Well, you’re halfway there if you know it’s going to happen. Kenny charged and missed, I did the stumping – and Benaud took himself off.”
Cricket will always be Lavender’s foremost sporting passion but his portrayal of Private Pike also has a football connection – that claret and blue scarf.
And, yes, that thick, deeply uncool garment worn by young Pike is an Aston Villa scarf, chosen for its Villa colours by the young Brummie actor in the late 1960s.
But, when it comes to football, Lavender has a passing interest more than an abiding passion. He does follow Villa’s fortunes but from afar, having first plumped for them out of stubbornness as a schoolboy in a class full of Blues fans.
“On the first day at grammar school one of the first questions asked was ‘who do you support?’” he recalls. “Basically it was Birmingham City or Villa and everybody seemed to support Birmingham. Villa were in the minority so I said them.
“As for the scarf, the first two series of Dad’s Army were in black and white so it didn’t matter what colour it was.
“But the third series was in colour and, at the time, the BBC had a massive wardrobe and each character selected his or her wardrobe.
“I was told to go up to wardrobe and pick out something distinctive. I chose a sweater, a garish orange and yellow thing that only Arnold and Bill knew what it was – an MCC touring sweater. And then there was the scarf.
“I thought ‘ah – an Aston Villa scarf’. But how much did I know about football?
Somebody said ‘ah, a West Ham scarf’, I didn’t know West Ham played in the same colours. Or Burnley. I always looked to see how they have done and still do. But while I have been to Aston Hall many a time – it’s one of my favourite buildings in the country – I have never been to Villa Park in my life.
“I was never a football fan as such, but it is an Aston Villa scarf as far as I am concerned. And, officially, I am an Aston Villa supporter.”