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Arthur Lowe -
The Man Behind Mainwaring

Arthur Lowe was born in Hayfield, Derbyshire on 22 September 1915. Arthur’s original intention was to join the Merchant Navy but this idea was thwarted due to his poor eyesight.

Working at an airplane factory he joined the army on the eve of World War II, but not before experiencing his first brush with the acting world by working as a stagehand at the Manchester Palace of Varieties.

While serving in the Middle East, he began to take part in shows put on for the troops, this eventually led him to a full time acting career..

Arthur became known for his character roles, making his debut at Manchester rep in 1946. He appeared on stage in many roles including parts in Call Me Madam, Pal Joey and The Pyjama Game and eventually featured in no less than fifty films, Arthur was an actor who was frequently in demand.

By the 1960's Arthur Lowe had successfully made the transition to television and landed a regular role as draper/lay preacher Leonard Swindley in the drama series Coronation Street. So popular was his role with viewers that he was eventually given his own spin off series Pardon the Expression.

However, Leonard Swindley was not a role Arthur relished and he longed to move on to other parts, so it's no surprise that the months he was not playing Swindley he was busy on stage or making guest roles in other TV series including Z Cars and The Avengers.

In 1968, Arthur landed perhaps his most famous role, Captain George Mainwaring in the BBC series Dad's Army, it has often been remarked by his former colleague Bill Pertwee that this was the role Arthur played which most resembled himself, pompous and bumbling. His comic timing in the role could never be faltered and he went on to take the character into a radio series, stage play and feature length film.

Whenever Dad's Army was off the air Arthur would frequently be making films such as No Sex Please We're British and O Lucky Man, and even squeezed in guest appearances on other TV shows such as The Morecambe and Wise Show.

When Dad's Army ended in 1977, Arthur was still very much in demand with starring roles in TV programmes such as Bless Me Father and Potter. He also carried on working on the stage and films. In his spare time he would sail his boat The Amazon across Europe accompanied by his wife Joan and would lead a very active life.

It was a sad shock to the acting world when Arthur died of a stroke in his dressing room before a performance of Home at Seven in 1982 aged 66.

Twenty years later, he is perhaps even more popular and well known for his role in Dad's Army.

Two biographies on Arthur Lowe are available, Arthur Lowe - Dad's Memory by his son Stephen which was released in 1997 and more recently Arthur Lowe by Graham Lord.

By Andy Howells,
This Presentation: Copyright: 2003

Arthur Lowe Links

Captain Mainwaring - Biography

Arthur Goes Marching On -
Weekend Magazine, 1970

On Manoeuvres With Dad's Army - ABC Film Review. 1971
Arthur Lowe, cheerful on parade as Mr. Drake the eccentric sleuth - Radio Times, 1972
Arthur's idea of a holiday is working! - ABC Film Review. 1971

Arthur Lowe Gallery -

Call Me Madam - Theatre Programme, 1952
Dad's Army - Theatre Programme, 1975

Beyond A Joke - Theatre Programme, 1979

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