Dad’s Army star Frank Williams dead at 90

Actor Frank Williams, who was best known for playing Timothy Farthing in Dad’s Army, has died at the age of 90.

A statement on the star’s official Facebook page said, “So sorry to say that our dear friend, coworker, and actor, Frank Williams, passed away this morning.”

“He was almost 91 years old, and we’re thankful for all the years he brought joy, laughter, and happiness to so many people.” Thank you Frank! x’

On July 2, Frank passed away just six days before he would have turned 91 years old.

Williams, who was born on 2 July 1931 in Hampstead, London, and was educated at Hendon County School and Ardingly College, West Sussex began his acting career in Rep but had got ‘the bug’ at school when he appeared as the lead in ‘The Ghost Train,’ a play written, coincidentally, by Arnold Ridley, who he would later appear with in ‘Dad’s Army.’ When he made it to the professional stage he performed at the Watford Palace Theatre which, at that time, was being run by Jimmy Perry, the creator of ‘Dad’s Army.’

Television was still in its infancy when Williams made his small screen debut in a February 1955 BBC play titled ‘The Queen Came By’ which was set at the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and starred Thora Hird. Williams had previously made his screen debut in ‘Derby Day’ a 1952 comedy/drama, but was uncredited. He made two other big screen appearances, also uncredited in ‘The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan’ (1953), and in ‘One Good Turn’ (1955) – the first of his three screen appearances with Norman Wisdom. In 1956, Williams had his first long run on television when he played Mr Meiklejohn in the BBC 20-minute comedy series ‘Abigail and Roger’. However, the series was not a success and the BBC cancelled it after nine episodes of an intended thirteen-episode run.

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Williams continued to appear on television in minor roles in such programmes as ‘The Bulldog Breed’ and ‘The Larkins’ (he also appeared in the domestic sitcom’s spin-off film ‘Inn for Trouble’) before landing what he thought would be a one-off part in the popular sitcom ‘The Army Game.’ However, the writers decided to make Williams a permanent fixture in the show and he played Captain T.R. Pocket for 47 episodes from 1957 to 1960.

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Throughout the 1960s Williams turned up in a number of guest roles, working several times on the various Harry Worth series as well as appearing in several dramas such as ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’, ‘Z Cars’, ‘No Hiding Place’ and ‘Maigret.’ Several appearances on the sitcom ‘Hugh and I’ bought him to the attention of David Croft who, with Jimmy Perry, would develop ‘Dad’s Army.’ In 1969 he was invited onto that show to play the part of Reverend Timothy Farthing and ended up appearing in 40 episodes and both feature films (the original in 1971 and the 2016 version). He also turned up in some very unexpected series such as ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ and ‘The Kenny Everett Television Show.’

In 1991, Williams got the chance to establish himself as another sitcom character, the Bishop, in 14 episodes of ‘You Rang, M’Lord?’ His last appearance was as Lord Stanley in the second of 2 appearances on ‘Stella’, which was shown on Sky One (2016 and 2017). Before that, in 1993, he co-founded, along with Bill Pertwee, the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society which he became president of following Pertwee’s passing in 2013. Williams appeared at many social events for the society and walked in the 100th Birthday Parade for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, with other surviving members of the cast. Williams was also the patron of Veneratio, a charity established to prevent the social isolation of the elderly. During the 2020 pandemic outbreak he told reporters that “I share a house with my good friend Ronald Grainge, who I met on the ‘Dad’s Army’ stage show way back in 1975, so the two of us have been self-isolating and watching TV. We enjoy good dramas, and catch up with an old film occasionally.”

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