I loved Arnold's portrayal of Godfrey. I believe every single second of it and it is so beautifully understated. He was a Gentleman and a pssionate cricket fan - my kind of Guy!
I hated the book. I thought it was incredibly indulgent of Nicolas to write so much about himself and to be so obsessed by ramming home that Arnold was not Godfrey. He knew who would buy it. The very title 'Godfrey's Ghost' is a marketing ploy to attract DA fans, but he swerves DA in favour of telling the reader repeatedly that Ridley was not Godfrey - yes WE KNOW! It ought to be re-titled 'Nicolas Ridley is allowed to be self indulgent courtesy of his famous Dad'. It's no 'The Moon's a Balloon' that's for sure.
Godfrey was such a gentleman and always wanted to see the best in everyone. I wanted him to marry the widow from "All is Safely Gathered In." Favourite scenes with Godfrey are after he saves Mainwaring's life and the platoon visit him at home and discover he is actually a hero. (The bottle of whiskey Frazer gives him never fails to make me laugh) I also love the scene where he brings Pike a cup of tea when he's stuck on the fence despite the fact the beach is littered with mines. Such a fuss-free character but with so much integrity.
What's this Nicholas Ridley book? I'll look it up in a minute but Helen, something tells me you didn't enjoy it much :-) Why does he make so much of telling the reader Arnold was not Godfrey? But then again, I've read that when big events happen in soaps such as the birth of a baby, people knit booties and buy gifts and send them to the TV studios!!! The mind boggles.
The very title 'Godfrey's Ghost' is a marketing ploy to attract DA fans
That may have been the publisher's decision rather than the author's of course. Stephen Lowe originally wanted to call his book on his father, Arthur Lowe, by the title 'Ham on the Bone", because Arthur had a habit of always enquiring at restaurants "Is the ham on the bone?"
However the original publisher wanted his book released under a more recognisable and marketable title so they called it Arthur Lowe - A Life, which was very uninspired. When it was reprinted Steve changed it to something better, Arthur Lowe - Dad's Memory. With the latter title it brought a bit of Dad's Army into the words too, which is exactly what has been done with the Ridley book, it reflects the two things Arnold was most famous for, Godfrey and The Ghost train.
I haven't seem the book, is there a lot of photos in it?
Post by Dave Homewood on Jan 4, 2010 8:43:59 GMT 12
I have just had a read. An interesting article but I think Mr Nicholas Ridley perhaps needs to take a step back and realise a few things. One is his father was an actor playing a character which he would have had a lot of input into and one he was most happy to play, so there is no need to feel that the writers of Dad's Army did him an injustice by writing his character differently from his real personality - it was not an Arnold Ridley biopic!!
Another is there were thousands of men who served in both WWI and WWII who received little or no recognition for their service. Arnold is not alone in that one I'm afraid. I'm sure it was not a personal slite by the Government by refusing to give him an MM or a DCM.
Three, his OBE for services to the theatre and entertainment would have been most appropriate and I'm sure did not fall short of his career. He was not a great star. He wrote one successful play and about 40 other less successful ones. He was then a jobbing bit part actor who by the 1970's was a nobody. He seems bitter that he's recognised for Dad's Army. If it had not been for Dad's Army Arnold would have faded into obscurity completely and there would not have been any opportunity for his son to write about his career and wartime exploits like this as there would have been no interest in a nobody. And as far as the OBE goes, Arthur Lowe who was a much bigger and recognisable star and who contributed much more to the theatre, television, film, radio and other mediums, received no recogition in this form. Not even a BAFTA on his own.
The most interesting thing in the article for me is that Arnold wrote an autobiography. I would much prefer that his son publish that so we get the personal story form the man himself rather than from the jaded, perhaps jealous and certainly bitter son putting his own misguided slant on the story.
I agree with every word you wrote Dave. Nicolas is trading on his father's name and that makes me so cross. He seems to think that the viewing public are unable to untangle fact from fiction and persistently rams home that Godfrey was not the sum of his Father. The book is utterly self indulgent I would disuade anyone from spending their hard earned on it.
Thanks for the link Katie. What an interesting article. I would strongly agree with Dave in that while it seems undeniable Arnold Ridley fought bravely during both world wars with little recognition, so too did millions of other men. They all deserve recognition but unfortunately, it is one of the many great tragedies of war that that doesn't often happen.
Ridley (Nicholas) points out that Arnold Ridley was not Godfrey, yet he mentions most viewers did not know when watching Godfrey on screen that Arnold Ridley had fought in two world wars. True, this fact probably helped Arnold Ridley (and most older members of the cast who had real-life experience of war too no doubt) play a more convincing role and it's very interesting to know this about Arnold Ridley as a fan of his. It's also very sad to read of the trauma he went through as a result of the wars. But, strictly in terms of Godfrey's characterisation, this is irrelevant and blurs the lines between actor and character.
I didn't find Godfrey dim-witted at all. Did anyone else? I thought the character cames across as intelligent. Also, I think his derefence was in no small part down to the fact he had worked in a large department store where at that time, it would have been customary to address customers as sir or madam. But, he also spoke up - remember the scene in "Absent Friends" where he stands up to Frazer? Or the party scene in the episode where the bank is bombed where he tells the other men not to say unkind things about Mrs Mainwaring? He was gentle and perhaps his physical responses were slowed by age, but this was relevant I think to portraying the way in which elderly men were still willing to help with the war effort for as long as they were able.
An interesting read anyway. Yes, it would be good to read Arnold Ridley's take on the whole experience.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jan 5, 2010 10:50:55 GMT 12
Very well put Molly. I never have thought of Godfrey as dim-witted. Not only intelligent, he's almost an intellectual. He comes out with quotes from literature, he's very smart, and he is very polite. He's also extremely couragious, remember taking cups of tea to Mainwaing and Wilson when they held the bomb, or waterwings to Pike when he was trapped in the wire. I think Nick Ridley seems jaded. His comment about the wages received for one thing - they were based on how successful the actor was previously and also the level of lines they had. Mainwaring and Wilson had most lines in series one. They both also had successful sitcoms already, plus film careers etc. Arnold didn't. He was a bit part man who was near retirement.
Post by Andy Howells on Jan 5, 2010 11:01:10 GMT 12
I've read this thread and the attached article with interest. I hadnt even heard about the book until a few weeks ago, which makes me slightly out of the DA loop at the moment.
I've listened to a few interviews in recent years made by Arnold for BBC Radio in the 60s and 70s and he always comes across as a kindly and sincere gentleman who wouldnt be afraid to speak his mind should the situation arise. I certainly don't think Perry and Croft wrote Godfrey down at all and if you watch the episode "Branded" Godfrey comes across as anything but cowardly, firstly saving Captain Mainwaring's life after he had been rebuked by him and then revealed to have saved many lives in World War One in No-Mans land which results in him becoming the Platoon's medical orderly.
I don't think Arnold had a lot of luck in life with his plays, he lost a lot of money on the Ghost train, but several people have remarked that he certainly wasnt bitter about it, even later advising Jimmy Perry never to sell his rights.
It is probably arguable as to well known he was by the time dad's army came about, in the late 60s both Crossroads and The Archers were high profile shows on TV and Radio in Britain and I'm sure fans of those shows would have recognised him, though how many would have made The ghost train connection is another thing.
I don't particularly like the title Godfrey's Ghost, but I'll be interested to learn more about Arnolds book, a shame it was never published, and i do wonder howmany years he had prepared it.
I certainly don't think he resented or hated Dad's army niether, infact he speaks quite fondly of it on his desert island discs interview in November 1973 and remarks how sad he and the cast were on Jimmy beck's recent death. I'm sure like most jobs working on the show it was quite demanding and I think there was rivalry (but friendly rivalry at that) between him and John Laurie, but as John would often say "it's quite a nice pension".
I hope Nicolas isnt too bitter even if he might come across that way, I seem to recall Stephen lowe's memoir on Arthur been of a similar tone, and was all to pleased when I read graham lord's book which seemed to set the record and several errors straight!
Post by Dave Homewood on Jan 5, 2010 11:11:37 GMT 12
Stephen's book was a bit of a therapy trying to come to terms with all that had happened in his own life as much as his father's. Afterwards he fully appreciated things much more I think. In person he's a very nice chap and a fountain of info on his dad, and a real credit to Arthur in my opinion. But Steve had been through a lot, both his own and his mother's alcoholism and there were other issues that his book helped him work through. I wonder if Nick is doing the same thing or whether's he's actually jealous of the success of the better known actors?
Arnold didn't lose money on the Ghost Train. He made a packet on it. He invested it into films, three I think, but only one was completed 'The Royal Eagle' in 1936 and it bombed and the studio collapsed. That's where he lost his money. He sold the amateur rights to The Ghost train to help pay the debts. Bill pertwee has said however he still got a share of residuals from it and over the years he got a regular cheque for the rest of his life which eventually paid off his debts. Bill said the guy he sold some of the rights to was much bnetter at collecting the money and Arnold did better out of it than when he owned them wholsesale. So perhaps that bit has been left out of Nicholas's telling of the story?
Post by Dave Homewood on Feb 12, 2012 9:51:13 GMT 12
The injury was real but long after WWI he had a revolutionary operation that gave back some movement. He went throughn two and a half series carrying a rifle (and WWII!!) so I'm not sure where that suggestion has come from, as I've not heard it before.
Post by mayibeexcused on Feb 15, 2012 23:12:07 GMT 12
I read the book, hoping to find a little more about AR's wartime experiences, and as much as I can about DA. The book is basically an autobiography about the author's childhood.
Also, AR was grateful for Dad's Army for giving him his final bow, as it were. Nick Ridley doesn't agree with this - he criticises it! I couldn't believe it - hardly anyone would know AR if it wasn't for Dad's Army, and I don't think NR has said what AR would liked to have said, had he written his own autobiography.
I have noticed in a couple of episodes, notably The Desperate Drive Of Corporal Jones, The Godiva Affair and Wake Up Walmington that Godfrey when on the phone holds the phone well away from his ear, it actually looks as if the receiver is resting on Arnold's/Godfrey's cheek bone.
Last Edit: Apr 27, 2014 8:17:06 GMT 12 by stephen68