Space geeks will know that.”Don’t Panic” is a phrase written on the cover of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the reason for which is described as partly because the device “looked insanely complicated” to operate, and partly to keep intergalactic travellers from panicking, This “Don’t Panic” catchphrase and reasoning came from the amusingly inventive mind of writer Douglas Adams, which was later described by geostationary spaceflight guru, Sir Arthur C. Clark, as perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity. However, perhaps we should also thank another for this sage advice: the character actor Clive Dunn who sadly has just passed away at the age of 92.
In fact, before Douglas Adams had even written his book, it was Clive Dunn’s Lance Corporal Jones character in the very popular BBC wartime television comedy about the Home Guard, Dad’s Army, which first used the catchphrase “Don’t Panic!”. At some key point in virtually every episode he would he would amusingly intone others to “Don’t Panic! Don’t Panic!” while of course panicking himself. The Dad’s Army series, written by David Croft and Jimmy Perry, ran from the late 1960s until the late 1970s and still remains popular today.
While Clive Dunn was a nonagenarian when he died, strangely this was nearly the age of the “old army veteran” Lance Corporal Jones and town butcher character he played in series. Dunn was actually in his late forties in real life when he played the part. In fact, Clive Dunn was a well-loved character and comedy actor who specialised in “playing old”. For example, he played a grandad in a later children’s BBC television series under that title and even had a pop-music hit which was also called “Grandad,”
Dunn had previously had a more varied acting career including having a very small role as a band leader in the Dick Lester space comedy, The Mouse on the Moon (1963) in which a tiny European nation called the Duchy of Grand Fenwick manages to beat USA and Russia to place men on the Moon. Before that, Dunn had actually served in the army during World War 2 before being captured and becoming a prisoner of war.
We give our condolences to Clive Dunn’s widow and daughters, to the rest of his family and friends.