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article imageReview: Remembering John Le Mesurier Special

By Alexander Baron     Apr 28, 2012 in Entertainment
The British actor John Le Mesurier starred in over a hundred films, and was once a regular face on television. It seems strange then that no one appears to have made a documentary about him until nearly thirty years after his death.
First let us clear up a possible ambiguity; this is not the John Le Mesurier who appeared in the dock alongside Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe in a certain notorious trial - which ended with the acquittal of all four defendants. Also, his surname is pronounced to rhyme with treasurer.
Like Roger Moore and Noël Coward, John Le Mesurier was the quintessential English gentleman, if not more so.
John Le Mesurier: It's All Been Rather Lovely is currently on iplayer, for those who can receive it, and although he died as long ago as 1983, this appears to be the first documentary dedicated to his life, apart from 'We Are the Boys...': John Le Mesurier, which is partly about the character he played in the long running Dad's Army TV series.
This hour long tribute features contributions from his third wife, his son Robin by his second wife - the larger than life comedy actress Hattie Jacques, and other contemporaries.
John Le Mesurier was one of those people no one seems ever to have had a bad word to say about, apparently because he was so easy going. Perhaps too easy going, for what husband would tolerate his wife moving him out of the marital bed and moving in her lover, as Jacques did to him? Even so, she remained the love of his life; his first wife was apparently a gorgeous creature, but unfortunately became a lush. His first marriage ended in divorce in 1947; he and Jacques married in 1949 and were divorced in 1965 after she presented him with two sons. She died in 1980.
At home playing the straight man in comedy, the straight laced individual in dramas, and very occasionally a villain, John Le Mesurier was very seldom the lead actor, nor had he ever any desire to be, but there was a consensus that in every film or programme in which he appeared, there was one Le Mesurier moment.
His third wife, the former Joan Malin, was with him until his death, and the TV series Dad's Army which ran from 1968 to 1977 in which he played Sergeant Wilson, became his best known role.
His biggest role though was in the 1971 play Traitor, for which he won a BAFTA award.
The title of this documentary is taken from what were not quite his last words, something he said to his wife the night before he died in a Ramsgate hospital at the age of 71.
More about John Le Mesurier, dad's army, character actor, Hattie Jacques
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