“Grandad” by Clive Dunn was Number One on 9th January 1971 and stayed there for three weeks.
Greetings from the future – well actually I am about 12 hours ahead of Steve as I live in New Zealand. I am a great fan of these posts. A blast from the past. A walk down memory lane. Maybe this should be called ‘Back to the Future’.
Anyway as Steve is massively busy with all his endeavours I have volunteered to take over some of these posts on Talk About Pop Music.
Steve and I have a running joke about how old I am. So all I can say about this song this week is that I remember it well and would sing along with the lyrics when it came on the radio. It didn’t reach the Number One here in New Zealand but it was just the sort of song that conservative 1970’s New Zealand loved. So what is it? Grandad, by Clive Dunn. It hit number one on 9th January 1971, but only stayed there for 3 weeks.
We all know Clive Dunn as the bumbling and inept Lance-Corporal Jack Jones. He was actually the youngest cast member which just shows just how good his acting is. But he did serve active duty in WWII. In 1940, after the start of the Second World War, Dunn joined the army and served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. The unit fought during the German invasion of Greece but surrendered after fighting a rearguard action near the Corinth canal; Dunn was among the four hundred men taken prisoner and was to be a prisoner of war in Austria for four years. He remained in the army after the war ended and was finally demobilized in 1947.
Here’s what Wikipedia says:
After Dad’s Army ended, Dunn capitalised on his skill in playing elderly character roles by playing the lead character Charlie Quick in the slapstick children’s TV series Grandad, from 1979 to 1984 (he played the caretaker at a village hall, and sang the lyrics in the theme). He had previously had a number one hit single with the song “Grandad” on his 51st birthday in January 1971, accompanied by a children’s choir. The song was written by bassist Herbie Flowers. He performed the song four times on Top of the Pops. The B-side of “Grandad”, “I Play The Spoons”, also received considerable airplay. After the cancellation of Grandad in 1984, he effectively disappeared from the screen, retiring to Portugal. Following the success of the “Grandad” record, Dunn released several other singles.
Dunn died in Portugal on 6 November 2012 as a result of complications following an operation which took place earlier that week. His agent, Peter Charlesworth, said the star would be “sorely missed” and that his death was “a real loss to the acting profession”. His death, and those of Bill Pertwee in 2013 and Pamela Cundell in 2015, leaves only two surviving major cast members from Dad’s Army: Ian Lavender and Frank Williams, the former of which is the only surviving cast member to have played a character in the platoon.
Frank Williams, who played the Vicar in Dad’s Army, said Dunn was always “great fun” to be around. “Of course he was so much younger than the part he played,” he told BBC Radio Four. “It’s very difficult to think of him as an old man really, but he was a wonderful person to work with – great sense of humour, always fun, a great joy really”.
Ian Lavender, who played Private Pike in the show, said: “Out of all of us he had the most time for the fans. Everyone at one time or another would be tempted to duck into a doorway or bury their head in a paper but not Clive, he always made time for fans”.
We didn’t get the series here in New Zealand, which probably explains why this schmaltzy song didn’t make it to number one. We were still on our summer break anyway so no number one. But it did get a lot of airplay.
And so, it is Back to the Future here in New Zealand.