David Lodge

David Lodge, film actor

Born: 19 August, 1921 in Kent. Died 18 October, 2003 in London, aged 82

HIS craggy features, rough voice and hardy appearance made David Lodge unforgettable in over 150 films. Invariably, he was cast as either a tough talking crook, a hard-line copper or the archetypal sergeant-major. In fact, Lodge also had a delightful line in comedy and appeared alongside his great friend Peter Sellers in many films and in half a dozen Carry Ons.

He seldom was the star but he always delivered a handsome and superbly convincing performance that made him often take the reviews from those at the top of the bill.

Born in Rochester, Lodge attended a central London school where he showed early promise reciting stories and singing comical songs. Throughout the Second World War he served with the RAF and then joined the Ralph Reader Gang Show, initially touring military bases and then doing seasons in theatres throughout the UK.

It was with the Gang Show that he met Peter Sellers and the two formed a friendship that lasted until Sellers’s death in 1980. Lodge remained a constant support for Sellers - both emotional and professional - and was often on hand to placate the star in the studio.

It was through Sellers that Lodge’s career started. Lodge was booked to play many of the extra roles in the Goon Show and adopted their zany style of humour in his warm-up act before the live recording.

It was in 1955 that Lodge’s film career started. It was with the impressive war film The Cockleshell Heroes, in which he played a sergeant who joined in the barrack-room banter and warned of the dangers ahead. There followed numerous war films of the same genre: (Yesterday’ Enemy, I Was Monty’s Double, Ice Cold in Alex, The Silent Enemy, The Long Ships etc) but perhaps the most memorable was the 1964 Guns at Batasi in which Richard Attenborough gave a powerful performance as a prima donna RSM and Lodge sensitively preserved the peace of the camp.

While Lodge delivered aggressive characters in uniform, he was also able to show a more delicate style in many films with Norman Wisdom and Spike Milligan. He was in six Carry On films and joined a host of British stars (Diana Dors, Kathleen Harrison etc) in a Dick Emery comedy called Mrs Gibbons’ Boys.

But it was with Sellers that Lodge found his outlet for light-hearted farce. He acted as the straight man in many of the Pink Panther films and in the 1960 comedy Two Way Stretch Lodge played one of the convicts who break out of jail to rob a maharajah. Lodge matched strong performances from Sellers and Wilfred Hyde White as the con with a heart of gold and a love of embroidery.

But Lodge’s loyalty to Sellers was much tested in the making of these films. Sellers had moments of unexplained anguish, and his temperamental tantrums often tested the crew and the actors. Sellers was exceedingly superstitious and the slightest thing could make him cancel all appointments for the day. Lodge proved a strong and unquestioning support throughout these troubled years. Indeed, after Sellers’s death, his son published some memories attacking his father. Lodge was staggered and wrote complaining of a "monumental injustice" perpetrated on his friend.

Lodge made many significant appearances in TV dramas. These dated back to the first Avengers and carried through to such popular hits as Minder, Lovejoy and LA Law. He wrote his autobiography in 1982 entitled Up The Ladder to Obscurity.

He married his wife, Lynn, in 1963. She predeceased him.