Dad's Army connection with Cuckfield

Updated: Feb 18


Geoffrey Lumsden on the set of one of the first BBC’s Dad’s Army episodes

Did you know one of the characters in one of Britain’s favourite TV sitcoms had a link to Cuckfield? Geoffrey Lumsden who played Captain Square married his second wife Helen Syme in Cuckfield in 1947.


Geoffrey Lumsden is most associated with the character Captain Square, who played a supporting role as the pompous commanding officer of the rival Eastgate Platoon, and a former soldier who served with Lawrence of Arabia during the Great War.


Geoffrey Forbes Lumsden was born in London on December 1914. His father was a Brigadier General in the Royal Scots, whose example and mannerisms may well have influenced his son's acting later in life. After a brief spell training to be an engineer at a colliery, Geoffrey showed theatrical promise and won a scholarship to train at RADA. He married Judith Cope, second daughter of a Managing Director of tobacco product company Cope Brothers & Co in Oxton, Liverpool in 1938.


We know that his theatrical career was interrupted by Word War II when he served in Burma, but we have no record of what became of his first wife. He returned to the theatre after the War and became a playwright and screen actor and appeared in many stage and TV productions including Upstairs, Downstairs, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Edward and Mrs Simpson. He also acted in Broadway.


We know that Helen A Syme played alongside Lumsden in a repertory production of ‘A Rose without a thorn’ in February of the year in Dundee before they married. The play received rave reviews - these words are from the Dundee Evening Telegraph ‘seldom have acting standards being so high over an entire cast'.


The last epidode of Dad's Army was aired in 1977 and Geoffrey died in London in 1984, aged 69. He will probably be most remembered for the irascible Captain Square, frequently at loggerheads with Mainwaring whose name he insists on mispronouncing as spelt, ‘Main-wearing’, instead of the correct ‘Mannering’ and has the catchphrase, ‘You blithering idiot!’


Full caption: Geoffrey Lumsden on the set of one of the first BBC’s Dad’s Army episodes ‘Command Decision’ first screened in 1968.


Cautionary note: The marriage record is on public record, but as these were registered by Cuckfield Urban District Council - this may not necessarily have been Cuckfield Church. Geoffrey F Lumsden in the England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 - Ancestry.com (subscription required). If you have any further information on Helen Syemes, Geofrey Lumsden or the local marrage please let us know.


Wikipedia entry for Geoffrey Lumsden: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Lumsden


Contributed by Malcolm Davison.