The Info List - Arthur Lowe

Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
(22 September 1915 – 15 April 1982) was an English actor. His career spanned over thirty years, including starring roles in numerous theatre and television productions. He is best known for playing Captain Mainwaring
Captain Mainwaring
in the British sitcom
British sitcom
Dad's Army
Dad's Army
from 1968 until 1977. He was nominated for seven BAFTAs and became one of the most recognised faces on television. Lowe began his working life shortly before the Second World War (1939–1945) and he featured in many theatrical performances. It was not until he landed the part of Leonard Swindley
Leonard Swindley
in the British television soap Coronation Street
Coronation Street
that he became a household name. He played the character until 1966, while continuing film work. In 1968 he took up his most famous role, in Dad's Army, written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. His success as this character led to considerable television and theatrical work, which put pressure on his health. Lowe's final years were dominated by alcoholism and illness and he died from a stroke on 15 April 1982, aged 66.


1 Early life 2 Early career 3 Stardom 4 Later career 5 Death 6 Memorials 7 Television roles 8 Filmography 9 BAFTA Awards 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links

Early life[edit] Lowe was born in Hayfield, Derbyshire, the only child of Arthur Lowe Sr. (1888–1971) and his wife Mary Annie Ford (1885–1981). His father worked for a railway company and was in charge of moving theatrical touring companies around Northern England
Northern England
and the Midlands, using special trains.[4] Arthur Jr. went to Chapel Street Junior School in Chapel Street, Levenshulme, Manchester. His original intention was to join the Merchant Navy but this was thwarted by his poor eyesight. Working at an aircraft factory, he joined the British Army
British Army
on the eve of the Second World War
Second World War
but not before experiencing his first brush with acting, by working as a stage hand at the Manchester Palace of Varieties. Lowe served in the Middle East with the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry
Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry
and took part in shows put on for the troops. At the war's end, he was discharged from the army, having served as a radar technician.[5][6] Early career[edit] Lowe made his debut at the Manchester Repertory Theatre in 1945, where he was paid £5 per week for twice-nightly performances.[4][7] He worked with various repertory companies around the country and became known for his character roles, which included parts in the West End musicals Call Me Madam, Pal Joey and The Pajama Game. An early brief film role was as a reporter for Tit-Bits magazine, near the end of Kind Hearts and Coronets
Kind Hearts and Coronets
(1949). Lowe married Joan Cooper (1922–1989) on 10 January 1948. They had met in 1945 when she was his leading lady at the Manchester Repertory Theatre and they remained together until his death. Their son, Stephen Lowe, was born on 23 January 1953.[4][7] By the 1960s, Lowe had made the transition to television and landed a regular role as draper/lay preacher Leonard Swindley
Leonard Swindley
in the northern drama series Coronation Street
Coronation Street
(1960–65). His character became sufficiently popular with viewers for him to appear in the spin-off series, Pardon the Expression (1966) and its sequel Turn Out the Lights (1967). Leonard Swindley
Leonard Swindley
was not a role Lowe relished and he longed to move on. During the months he was not playing Swindley, he was busy on stage or making one-off guest appearances in other TV series such as Z-Cars (1962) and The Avengers (1967). Stardom[edit] In 1968, Lowe was cast in his best remembered role, as Captain Mainwaring in the BBC
sitcom Dad's Army
Dad's Army
(1968–1977). His colleagues on the show later remarked that the role resembled Lowe, pompous and bumbling; Lowe had a clause written into his contract, specifying that he would never have to lose his trousers.[8] He also played Mainwaring's drunken brother Barry Mainwaring, in the 1975 Christmas episode "My Brother and I". Lowe and his character also surfaced in a radio version of Dad's Army, a stage play and a feature-length film released in 1971. While Dad's Army
Dad's Army
was not in production, Lowe appeared in plays at the National Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre. In 1968 Lowe was invited by Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
to act at the National Theatre at the Old Vic
Old Vic
and appeared in Somerset Maugham's Home and Beauty in 1968 and later The Tempest
The Tempest
in 1974 with John Gielgud.[9] He also had prominent parts in several films directed by Lindsay Anderson, including if.... (1968) and O Lucky Man!
O Lucky Man!
(1973). His other film roles during this period included Spike Milligan's surreal The Bed Sitting Room (1969), in which he mutates into a parrot, a drunken butler in The Ruling Class (1972) with Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole
and Theatre of Blood (1973), a horror film starring Vincent Price, with Lowe as a critic murdered by the deranged actor played by Price. On television he appeared as a guest performer on The Morecambe and Wise Show (1977), alongside Richard Briers
Richard Briers
in a series of Ben Travers farces for the BBC, as the pompous Dr Maxwell in the ITV comedy Doctor at Large (1971) and as Redvers Bodkin, a snooty, old-fashioned butler, in the short-lived sitcom The Last of the Baskets (1971–72). Between 1971 and 1973 Lowe joined Dad's Army
Dad's Army
colleague Ian Lavender, on the BBC
radio comedy Parsley Sidings and played Mr Micawber in a BBC television serial of David Copperfield (1974). He employed a multitude of voices on the BBC
animated television series Mr. Men
Mr. Men
(1974), in which he was the narrator in addition to voicing all the characters. In 1972 Lowe also recorded the novelty songs "How I Won The War" and "My Little Girl, My Little Boy".[10] While touring at coastal theatres with his wife, Lowe used his distinctive 1885 former steam yacht Amazon as a floating base. He bought Amazon as a houseboat in 1968 but realised her potential and took her back to sea in 1971; this unique vessel is still operating in the Mediterranean.[11] The ship had a bar with a semicircular notch cut halfway along, to enable both the portly figure of Lowe and his wife to serve behind the bar at the same time, acting as hosts during the parties they threw on board.[12] In an interview for a Dad's Army
Dad's Army
retrospective on BBC
television in 2010, Lowe's co-star, Clive Dunn, described him sitting at the bar in the evenings when they were filming on location, consuming a drink which Lowe named 'Amazon' after his yacht. Dunn described the drink as comprising "gin and ginger ale, with a single slice of cucumber".[13] Later career[edit]

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When Dad's Army
Dad's Army
ended in 1977, Lowe remained much in demand, taking starring roles in television comedies such as Bless Me, Father with Daniel Abineri (1978–1981), as the mischievous Catholic priest Father Charles Clement Duddleswell and in Potter (1979–80) as the busybody Redvers Potter. By now he was making many television advertisement commercials, but his later stage career mainly involved touring the provinces, appearing in plays and pantomimes with his wife, Joan. In 1981 he reprised his role as Captain Mainwaring
Captain Mainwaring
for the pilot episode of It Sticks Out Half a Mile, a radio sequel to Dad's Army. At Christmas 1981 Lowe appeared in pantomime with his wife. His last film role was in Lindsay Anderson's Britannia Hospital. In January 1982 Richard Burton
Richard Burton
had his private aeroplane fly Lowe to film a cameo role in the television series Wagner, his last screen performance. Death[edit] In his final years, Lowe's alcoholism worsened and he was reduced to acting in pantomimes and touring theatre productions. Graham Lord's biography recalls that by 1979, Lowe was suffering from major health problems but continued to drink increasing amounts of alcohol, sometimes passing out on stage or at dinner. He was also a heavy smoker and his weight ballooned. Lowe had long suffered from narcolepsy.[5] On 14 April 1982, Lowe gave a live televised interview on Pebble Mill at One.[14] Later the same day, he collapsed from the onset of a stroke in his dressing room at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, before a performance of Home at Seven, in which he appeared with wife Joan. He died in hospital early the following morning, aged 66. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at Sutton Coldfield Crematorium, following a sparsely attended funeral. Joan did not attend as she refused to miss a performance of Home at Seven and was appearing in Belfast
at the time. A memorial service was held in May 1982 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, attended by his family, former colleagues and many friends. His last sitcom, A.J. Wentworth, B.A., with Lowe as a boys' preparatory school master, was shown during July and August 1982. Tom Cole
Tom Cole
wrote in the Radio Times: "There are few actors who charmed viewers both young and old with such ease, and fewer still who could be trusted with the task of bringing classic literary characters like Charles Pooter and A.J. Wentworth to life." His national acclaim continued well after his death, with a statue of Lowe erected in the town of Thetford, where most of the location work for Dad's Army
Dad's Army
was filmed. He was honoured with two blue plaques; one outside his birthplace in Derbyshire
and another in Maida Vale. Lowe was respected and admired among colleagues, including Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
and John Gielgud. His sudden death received a large number of tributes. Speaking in 2002 Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
described Lowe as "a rare talent" and a "seriously brilliant actor". After his death Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
received many tributes from British actors. John Inman
John Inman
described Lowe as "a great actor" and John Le Mesurier did the same. Similar tributes were made by Jimmy Perry, who described him as "a very kind man and would go out of his way to help actors less fortunate than himself. His rich comic genius will be sadly missed". Clive Dunn
Clive Dunn
referred to Lowe as one of the greatest "comic actors" he had ever worked with. Graham Lord wrote, in his 2003 biography, that "almost every actor who worked with Arthur considered him to be outstanding". Memorials[edit] In December 2007, plans were unveiled for a statue of Lowe to be erected in Thetford, Norfolk, where the outside scenes for Dad's Army were filmed.[15]

Statue of Captain Mainwaring, Arthur Lowe's Dad's Army
Dad's Army
character in Thetford.

The statue was unveiled on 19 June 2010, by the writers of the series, Jimmy Perry
Jimmy Perry
and David Croft.[16] The star has also had two blue plaques unveiled, one at Maida Vale
Maida Vale
and one at his birthplace in Hayfield, Derbyshire.[17][18][19] Television roles[edit]

Year Title Role Notes

1960–65 1965–1966 1967 Coronation Street Pardon the Expression Turn Out the Lights Leonard Swindley 241 episodes

1968–1977 Dad's Army Captain Mainwaring 88 episodes

1970 Rookery Nook Harold Twine

1970 Turkey Time Edwin Stoatt

1971 Doctor at Large Dr Maxwell

1971–1972 The Last of the Baskets Redvers Bodkin

1972 It's Murder, But Is It Art? Phineas Drake

1974 Microbes and Men Louis Pasteur

David Copperfield Wilkins Micawber

1977 Car Across the Pass

Galton & Simpson Playhouse

1974–1976 Mr Men Narrator and Character Voices Animated Series based on picture books by Roger Hargreaves

1978–1981 Bless Me, Father Father Charles Clement Duddleswell

1979 The Plank

Slapstick Comedy for TV

1979–1982(series three released 1983) Potter Redvers Potter

1982 A.J. Wentworth, B.A. Arthur James Wentworth, B.A. posthumous


Year Film Role Notes

1948 London Belongs to Me Commuter on Train Uncredited

1949 Floodtide Pianist Uncredited

Stop Press Girl Archibald Uncredited

Kind Hearts and Coronets The Reporter

Poet's Pub Coach Guide Uncredited

The Spider and the Fly Town Clerk

Cage of Gold Short Man Uncredited

Gilbert Harding Speaking of Murder 3rd Drama critic

1954 Final Appointment Mr. Barrett

1955 Reluctant Bride Mr. Fogarty

The Woman for Joe George's Agent Uncredited

One Way Out Sam

Murder Anonymous Fingerprint Expert Uncredited



1956 Who Done It? Bit Part Uncredited

Breakaway Mitchell

The Green Man Radio Salesman

High Terrace


1957 Hour of Decision Calligraphy Expert

Stranger in Town Jeweller

1958 Blind Spot Garage Mechanic Uncredited

Stormy Crossing Garage Owner

1959 The Boy and the Bridge Bridge Mechanic

1960 The Day They Robbed the Bank of England Bank Official Uncredited

Follow That Horse! Auctioneer Uncredited

1962 Go to Blazes Warder

1963 This Sporting Life Charles Slomer

1965 You Must Be Joking! Husband

1967 The White Bus Mayor

1968 If.... Mr. Kemp: Staff

1969 It All Goes to Show Councillor Henry Parker

The Bed Sitting Room Father

1970 Spring and Port Wine Mr. Aspinall

Some Will, Some Won't Police Sergeant

The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens John Dickens

Fragment of Fear Mr. Nugent

The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer Ferret

1971 A Hole Lot of Trouble Whitehouse

Dad's Army Captain Mainwaring

1972 The Ruling Class Daniel Tucker

Adolf Hitler – My Part in His Downfall Major Drysdale

1973 Theatre of Blood Horace Sprout

O Lucky Man! Mr. Duff / Charlie Johnson / Dr. Munda

No Sex Please, We're British Mr. Bromley

1974 Man About the House Spiros

1976 The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones Dr. Thwackum

1977 The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It Dr. William Watson, M.D.

1979 The Lady Vanishes Charters

1980 Sweet William Captain Walton

1982 Britannia Hospital Guest Patient

BAFTA Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Film Result

1969 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor Dad's Army Nominated

1970 BAFTA TV Awards Best Light Entertainment Performance Dad's Army Nominated

1972 BAFTA TV Awards Best Light Entertainment Performance Dad's Army Nominated

1973 BAFTA Film Awards Best Supporting Actor O Lucky Man! Won

1974 BAFTA TV Awards Best Light Entertainment Performance Dad's Army Nominated

1974 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor Microbes and Men and David Copperfield Nominated

1977 BAFTA TV Awards Best Light Entertainment Performance Dad's Army Nominated


^ GRO Register of Births: DEC 1915 7b 1413 HAYFIELD – Arthur Lowe, mmn = Ford ^ GRO Register of Deaths: JUN 1982 32 0628 BIRMINGHAM – Arthur Lowe, DoB = 22 September 1915 ^ GRO Register of Marriages: MAR 1948 5d 800 MARYLEBONE – Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
= Gatehouse or Cooper ^ a b c "The Stardom of Suburban Man", Evening News, London, 28 October 1977 ^ a b John Oliver "Lowe, Arthur (1915–1982)", BFI Screenonline ^ "'Dad's Army' Press Release". BBC. July 1968. Retrieved 14 December 2016.  ^ a b "Arthur Lowe – The Proud Father", TV Times, 14–20 October 1978 ^ Sale, Jonathan (15 November 2000). "Dad's Army: the story of a classic television show by Graham McCann". The Independent. London: Independent.co.uk. Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2010.  ^ Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
by Graham Lord, Orion 2002, p 189 and 224 ^ " Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
with Mike Sammes Singers – How I Won The War". Retrieved 14 December 2016.  ^ "Links with our members:Museums and Vessels:Amazon". World ship trust. Archived from the original on 13 September 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2010.  ^ Nevin, Charles (30 October 1994). "Dad's Navy: As Captain Mainwaring, he entertained millions with his pomposity and his delusions of grandeur. But the real Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
fancied himself as a different sort of captain". The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2012.  ^ "Amazon – Cocktail Recipe". Makemeacocktail.com. Retrieved 2017-08-26.  ^ " Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
Pebble Mill at One BBC
– 1982 Last interview Complete". YouTube. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-22.  ^ Steven Nolan Show Radio Five Live, 1 December 2007 ^ " Dad's Army
Dad's Army
captain statue unveiled in Thetford". BBC
News. 20 June 2010.  ^ " Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
blue plaque". Openplaques.org. Retrieved 2015-12-22.  ^ "Blue plaques: Leisure and culture – Derbyshire
County Council". Derbyshire.gov.uk. Retrieved 2015-12-22.  ^ " Dad's Army
Dad's Army
star Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
honoured with blue plaque". BBC
News. 30 August 2011. 

Further reading[edit] Two biographies of Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
have been published: Arthur Lowe – Dad's Memory by his son Stephen, which was issued in 1997; and more recently, Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
by Graham Lord in 2002. In 2000, The Unforgettable Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
was part of The Unforgettable series of TV biographies of famous comedy performers. External links[edit]

Biography portal

Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
on IMDb Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
at the British Film Institute's Screenonline Performances in the Theatre Archive University of Bristol

v t e

BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Ian Holm
Ian Holm
(1968) Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
(1969) Colin Welland (1970) Edward Fox (1971) Ben Johnson (1972) Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe
(1973) John Gielgud
John Gielgud
(1974) Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
(1975) Brad Dourif
Brad Dourif
(1976) Edward Fox (1977) John Hurt
John Hurt
(1978) Robert Duvall
Robert Duvall
(1979) Ian Holm
Ian Holm
(1981) Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
(1982) Denholm Elliott
Denholm Elliott
(1983) Denholm Elliott
Denholm Elliott
(1984) Denholm Elliott
Denholm Elliott
(1985) Ray McAnally (1986) Daniel Auteuil
Daniel Auteuil
(1987) Michael Palin
Michael Palin
(1988) Ray McAnally (1989) Salvatore Cascio (1990) Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman
(1991) Gene Hackman
Gene Hackman
(1992) Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes
(1993) Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson
(1994) Tim Roth
Tim Roth
(1995) Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
(1996) Tom Wilkinson
Tom Wilkinson
(1997) Geoffrey Rush
Geoffrey Rush
(1998) Jude Law
Jude Law
(1999) Benicio del Toro
Benicio del Toro
(2000) Jim Broadbent
Jim Broadbent
(2001) Christopher Walken
Christopher Walken
(2002) Bill Nighy
Bill Nighy
(2003) Clive Owen
Clive Owen
(2004) Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal
(2005) Alan Arkin
Alan Arkin
(2006) Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem
(2007) Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger
(2008) Christoph Waltz
Christoph Waltz
(2009) Geoffrey Rush
Geoffrey Rush
(2010) Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
(2011) Christoph Waltz
Christoph Waltz
(2012) Barkhad Abdi
Barkhad Abdi
(2013) J. K. Simmons
J. K. Simmons
(2014) Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance
(2015) Dev Patel
Dev Patel
(2016) Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 32203093 LCCN: no97006539 ISNI: 0000 0000 6309 5677 GND: 121329283 BNF: cb14066722n (data) SN