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A third, meanwhile, would be dispatched to fetch him a sandwich, while Lowe (who played the irascible Captain Mainwaring) waited impatiently for his turn.

‘I once actually saw him charm a make-up girl into taking the watch off his wrist, winding it up and then putting it back on again,’ recalls Ian Lavender, who played the naïve Private Pike.

His second marriage to Carry On star Hattie Jacques lasted for more than a decade only to ­collapse when Hattie took in a ­toyboy lover right under Le Mesurier’s nose.

Working with the likes of Sykes, Tony Hancock and Peter Sellers meant that the Le Mesuriers found themselves at the heart of a coterie of talented comedians.On one occasion, an attractive young woman begged Le Mesurier to take her to a ditch and ­ravish her.Ever the gentleman, Le Mez politely declined — but not before delivering a wry one-liner worthy of his on-screen alter ego: ‘Well, my dear, I’d like to oblige you but it’s rather late and dark,’ he said. ” before tempting them to join him on late night adventures.The cast always stayed at the The Bell Hotel in the heart of the ­market town and it was there, in the bar, that Le Mesurier would hold court every night, sipping spirits and telling stories.Yet never once did he appear to be the worse for wear the following day — unlike some of the actors who kept him company.

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