John Le Mesurier's ex-wife discusses affair with Tony Hancock
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John Le Mesurier was cast as Sergeant Arthur Wilson in the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army to much acclaim. However, Dad’s Army: Secret Lives and Scandal detailed the marital struggles with his wives, actresses Hattie Jacques and Joan Malin. Joan also revealed why the actor wasn’t too keen on accepting his most famous role when it was first offered.
Dad’s Army remains one of the country’s most beloved sitcoms of all time.
When it first appeared on the BBC in 1968, the reaction was mixed but, over time, audiences grew to love the exploits of the British Home Guard as they fought in World War II.
The original series ran until 1977 and even spawned a feature film in 1971.
The series grew so popular that a radio version based on the original TV scripts was produced and the show was broadcast internationally to over 18 million people.
The new Channel 5 special Dad’s Army: Secret Lives and Scandal details the personal lives of the popular actors behind the scenes.
One of the most shocking revelations was about star John Le Mesurier and his wives Joan Malin and Hattie Jacques.
Jacques was best-known as a comedic character actress in the Carry On films, as well as a radio performer.
It was revealed that after the breakdown of his marriage to Jacques, after an affair with driver John Schofield in 1962, his third wife Joan had an affair with comedy legend Tony Hancock.
Hancock was one of Le Mesurier’s closest friends and one of the “biggest TV stars of the 1960s”.
Joan explained: “He never got angry when I had the affair.
“He understood totally because he was a friend of Tony Hancock’s and he loved him,” she continued.
“I don’t ever remember him being cross except once in a pub when somebody called me a tart because I had been with Tony Hancock.
“John, for the first time in his life, stood up and gave this man a real roasting and I was very proud of him.”
The show also discussed Jacques’ affair with a much younger man and how Le Mesurier just tried “to put up with it”.
“There were no tantrums, there were no rows or clashes, he just left her to get on with his work and she got on with hers,” Le Mesurier’s son Robert explained.
However, despite the breakdown of their marriage, Le Mesurier let the other man move into their home while he moved into the spare room.
They all shared a house together, which Robert described as normal to him but understood how “other people can’t understand this”.
He stated the driver became another “father figure” towards him and that the whole situation completely “worked”.
The episode explained how Le Mesurier revelled in his reputation as one of “Britain’s busiest character actors”.
Le Mesurier’s third wife Joan revealed that, initially, John wasn’t keen on the role of Arthur Wilson: “He didn’t see the point in it, it seemed rather dull.
“He thought it would just be a boring old thing and it wouldn’t last,” she continued.
“He thought it was going to be a flop.”
However, after salary negotiations, the famed actor was convinced to take on the role and was given free rein to “make the role his own” by the creators.
Dad’s Army: Secret Lives and Scandal is available on My5 now.
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