A chance meeting with John Le Mesurier
by Geoff Royle
A page of my 1959 diary and a photograph of John, bewigged as Judge Ryman
in the British Lion comedy film "Brothers in Law".
In the spring of 1959 I was a National Service airman and a student at the No.1 Radio School, R.A.F. Locking.
However, during the 2 year 'sentence' of National Service I found the off-duty weekends hard to bear when my fiancee, friends and family were over the hills and far away. Eventually a fellow airman came to the rescue, and introduced me to the joys of hitch-hiking. That simple pleasure brought me into contact with many interesting people from all walks of life - - hence my chance-meeting with John. The distance from the camp in Somerset to my home in Stockport was nearly 200 miles, and on a good day three or four kind people would in turn, carry me home along those delightful pre-motorway roads. On the day I met John, we travelled from Worcester to Stockport, a distance of about 100 miles which afforded us plenty of time to chew the fat. This chance-meeting would have been amusing to an onlooker, as there was I, a total stranger to John, and yet to me his face was vaguely familiar. I wondered if I had I seen him before, and we were a few miles down the road before I recalled seeing him on the silver screen of our local cinema in the film "Brothers in Law". It was first shown two years earlier in 1957. I enjoyed that long conversation immensely. As we parted company at East Didsbury, near Stockport he kindly penned his autograph in my Letts pocket diary.
"Dad's Army" and its subsequent success was something neither of us could have foreseen, and every TV episode I have seen since has reminded me of that brief encounter.
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