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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 January 2008, 11:20 GMT
Dad's Army star's archive online
Arnold Ridley OBE : pic Uni Bristol Theatre Collection
The collection contains play scripts and news cuttings
A collection of theatrical memorabilia collected by one of the stars of Dad's Army has been made available online for the first time.

Playwright and actor Arnold Ridley, OBE, is probably best known for his role as Private Godfrey who spends most of his time asking to "be excused".

The archive collection was given to the University of Bristol by his son after his father's death in 1984.

Born in Bath in 1896, Ridley was later educated at the University of Bristol.

Sound effects

He made his first stage appearance at Bristol's Theatre Royal in a production of Prunella in 1914.

The collection reveals his dual career as both actor and playwright and includes more than 30 original play scripts, as well as programmes, handbills, posters, news cuttings and production photographs.

The idea for his most famous play, The Ghost Train, was conceived by Ridley while waiting on the deserted platform of Mangotsfield Station.

In an article published in 1933 he revealed how the terrifying sound effects of the ghostly train were created.

"The effect itself was perfectly simple, being merely a judicious mixture of thunder sheets, compressed air, a garden roller, and pieces of sandpaper and wire brushes combined with a kettle-drum," he said.


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