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Godfrey's Ghost awarded an Exclusively Independent pick for September 2009

Godfrey’s Ghost, is a touching biographical memoir about the actor and playwright Arnold Ridley.

The title has been picked for Exclusively Independent: the Arts Council funded initiative that hunts out the best titles from Britain's independent publishers.

About the book

In his youth, Arnold Ridley was celebrated as the author of the classic comedy thriller, The Ghost Train. In old age he played the much-loved character, Private Godfrey, in television's Dad's Army. For many years in between, he led the hand-to-mouth existence of an ageing actor struggling to find parts.

Nicolas Ridley provides us with an original, touchingly truthful account of a much-loved father who knew both fame and obscurity, wealth and poverty, family happiness and the horrors of two world wars. The result is a truly engaging, life-affirming read.

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What the reviewers say:"> Read the review of Godfrey's Ghost on

“This is one of the most tender portraits of a parent I have ever read. An extraordinarily poignant and emotionally honest account. There were some bits that made me cry, others that made me laugh out loud ..."

Paul Donovan, author and radio columnist, The Sunday Times

“A fitting tribute to Arnold Ridley OBE, soldier, playwright, actor, inspiration for dear old Private Godfrey.”

Jimmy Perry, creator and writer of Dad’s Army

“A labour of love in every sense. A very moving testament to a fascinating man ...”

Nick Pollard, Former Head of Sky News

"This is the ultimate act of filial piety - a book about a father by a son, created for a third generation so that the future can treasure the past. It is affecting, corrective, unflinching, full of love and tenderness but honest and even, at times, beady-eyed. The Godfrey of the title is Private Godfrey of Dad's Army, the gentle, oldest member of the famous television series' Home Guard Platoon, from Walmington-on-Sea. Yet Arnold Ridley, who played Godfrey, was in real life not only an actor, a father and a grandfather but also the writer who created The Ghost Train, one of the most successful plays of the twentieth century. He was endearing, maddening, complex and is now immortalised in print for posterity ... Flawed and human, he is remembered here in a fine book, a worthy memorial. There is nothing skin-deep about this study: it is all the better for its sometimes uncomfortable honesty."

Tim Heald, The Tablet, 19 September 2009

Ridley video footage

Author Nicolas Ridley discusses his father's life and work in a fascinating interview shot by Jimmy Taggart.

Click to launch the video

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Godfrey's Ghost

From Father to Son