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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A war hero in real life and in Dad's Army too !!
For the casual fan of Dad's Army, it may come as a surprise to know that Arnold Ridley had quite a distinguished background dating from his action in the first world war, and later as a playwright, was to produce one of the most popular and
frequently produced 'thrillers' - 'The Ghost Train'. In this warm and tender portrait of his father, his son,'fills in the...
Published on 24 Feb. 2010 by Brian James

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Arnold Ridley is but a Ghost in this Book
Sometimes I find that I want things too much. I so wanted this to be a rollicking good read. I have long wanted to read a biography of Arnold Ridley, so much more than just a member of the cast of the excellent TV programme, "Dad's Army". I know that he had a distinguished war record and had a previous life as a playwright, most famously penning the Ghost Train...
Published on 11 Jun. 2011 by K. Petersen


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A war hero in real life and in Dad's Army too !!, 24 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
For the casual fan of Dad's Army, it may come as a surprise to know that Arnold Ridley had quite a distinguished background dating from his action in the first world war, and later as a playwright, was to produce one of the most popular and
frequently produced 'thrillers' - 'The Ghost Train'. In this warm and tender portrait of his father, his son,'fills in the gaps', and justifiably points out
that there was much more in his life than the portrayal of Private Godfrey (although this partprobably brought him more fame and comfort than anything hitherto).Indeed, Nicolas Ridley, recalls the frequent times when money was scarce,when major parts in the theatre eluded his father, and in a desperate move
actually sold the performing rights to 'The Ghost Train ', thus depriving him of future royalties.There are some superb family photographs to accompany the text,
and some of Arnold in 'character'during his days in rep.What many people won't be
aware of too, is that Arnold Ridley sustained an injury to his arm, in the first world war, that was to trouble him for the rest of his life.All credit to him then,that he was still performing in Dad's Army in his ripe old age !! An affectionate and at times emotional account, Nicolas gives us a very personal
'diary'of the bond and relationship between father and son.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Godfrey's Ghost, 20 Aug. 2009
By 
J. M. E. Ac "Judy Turner" (Exmouth, Devon) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
In "Godfrey's Ghost" Nicolas Ridley is writing as one of a handful of people who didn't think of Arnold Ridley as `Private Godfrey'. Added to that is the fact that Nicolas is his son and so is approaching the matter from a unique position and quite a different angle.

The subsidiary title is `From Father to Son' and as the prologue says, "Godfrey's Ghost is, at its heart, a book about my father, Arnold Ridley, written for my son." As his son Christopher was too young to know Arnold, Nicolas worries that sometimes "it may be difficult to distinguish the actor from the man."

It seems to me that it is also a way of Nicolas getting to know his father better. Arnold had lived the majority and more successful part of his life before Nicolas came on the scene. In this endearing, touching and very unusual book, Nicolas has searched by way of `episodes, incidents, extracts, reflections' and has woven them together to help us to discover Arnold through his background, his family and his early life, as well as showing us the Arnold that he himself knew and loved. In so doing we discover a much more realistic and rounded individual, but, I am happy to say with characteristics and qualities by which we can still easily recognise our much loved `Private Godfrey'.

I would thoroughly recommend "Godfrey's Ghost" to anyone, whether they are "Dad's Army" fans or not, as it has a depth and warmth to it that is extremely appealing and a fascinating account of relationships between fathers and sons covering four generations.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully and honestly written, 11 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
Most of us would sit comfortably knowing our father was a household name in television history. But not so Nicolas Ridley, whose father Arnold played Private Godfrey in the legendary British sitcom Dad's Army. Based around his father's largely unassuming, unpublished autobiography, Nicolas' basic writing premise is to separate the actor from the TV character. Understandably, it grated Nicolas' that his father is mainly remembered as doddery Private Godfrey, when in reality he was an accomplished playwright, stage actor and battle-scarred veteran of two world wars.

In this, Nicolas succeeds, however, there were parallels. Arnold Ridley was a quiet, distinguished gentleman of the old school - not bad qualities to share with his TV persona.

This book has received gushing reviews, but they are mostly deserved. Nicolas recounts eloquently, indeed beautifully, a series of moving, personal father/son moments, but instead of prying, his relaxed and honest style makes the reader feel like they are having an unhurried, candid chat with an old friend.

Dad's Army fans expecting behind the scenes revelations about their favourite sitcom may be disappointed. Similar to Clive Dunn's autobiography, Arnold Ridley barely mentioned the evergreen comedy in his memoirs.

Nonetheless, some of the frank paternal advice proffered is hilariously Mainwaringesque. On the opposite sex, Arnold advised:

'The fact is, old boy, you're no oil painting. Not that there's anything wrong with you, but you're no matinee idol, nor ever likely to be. That's why if a woman invites you to her bed the first time you meet her, you should be very, very careful indeed. She may be mad, drunk or terribly unhappy. Or she may be all three. Or she may have mistaken you for somebody else.'

In truth, the majority of Nicolas' anecdotes describe snatches of everyday family trivia. But here's the real crux of the book. This is not really about Dad's Army or Private Godfrey at all, but the close ties between father and son - something that will strike poignantly with many.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Arnold Ridley is but a Ghost in this Book, 11 Jun. 2011
By 
K. Petersen "Ken" (Hemsby,UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
Sometimes I find that I want things too much. I so wanted this to be a rollicking good read. I have long wanted to read a biography of Arnold Ridley, so much more than just a member of the cast of the excellent TV programme, "Dad's Army". I know that he had a distinguished war record and had a previous life as a playwright, most famously penning the Ghost Train.

This book is written by his son, Nicholas. He has access to Arnold's attempt at an autobiography which, according to his son, failed to find a publisher because it fell to pieces as it approached the part of Arnold's life when he did the same. Extracts from Arnold's lightly self deprecating script are scattered through this work like juicy currants trapped in a too stodgy dough.

Nicholas features a mite too often for my liking and the "one of the most tender portraits of a parent I have ever read" (A quote from the cover of the paperback version) lurches into the cloying, "He's my dad and you can't have him". I did not feel that I was getting any insight into Arnold, but plenty into Nicholas' feelings about Arnold, about the hard times after the playwright dried, about having to share the star of Dad's Army with the general public. Perhaps, this is my main complaint, a case of mis-selling: this is not Arnold's story, but Nicholas'.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, 22 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
I found this an interesting and unusual memoir, as much about the son as the father. I didn't much like some of the rather sneering things the author had to say about the literature on Dad's Army (he seems incredibly reluctant to acknowledge any of them, even though he clearly makes ample use of them, while implying he and he alone is speaking the truth rather than adding to the 'myths'), but the majority of the book concentrates on his father and their relationship, and this is consistently absorbing and sometimes affecting.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender and so moving, 28 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
I have just returned from sitting in a cafe, reading this marvelous book. I only have one complaint though. It should come with a 'do not read in public' warning, as I was literally moved to tears on occasion. Which got me strange looks from the staff.
It is tender and moving. More than just a celeb biography; it is a deeply-touching dedication to the bond between father and child. I am enjoying it so much, in fact, I've just gone and bought a second copy for my Father, who I know will love it, also.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly personal story, 4 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
I have to confess an interest. I got to know Nick Ridley when we were at university together more than 40 years ago.
I visited his home in Highgate on journeys to and from London and clearly recall his parents. Arnold bluff, friendly, but underneath a rather shy and very private man; Althea warmly smiling with a bright twinkle in her eyes at sight of her son again.
Reading this book, I could hear and see them all again, as if it were yesterday.
It is a thoughtful and deeply personal collection of Nick's memories, interspered with exerpts from Arnold's unpublished notes for an autobiography (including recollections of his childhood and early life), set in the context of a dialogue with Nick's own son and reflections on the nature of the relationships between fathers and sons.
Parts will bring tears to your eyes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 16 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
This is not really a book for avid fans of Dad's Army - although Arnold Ridley had such an impact in that show as Private Godfrey, there's relatively little here that's new about that phase in his career and, indeed, the author doesn't seem particularly well-informed about the making of the show. This, however, is no criticism, because what you do have here is a fascinating insight into a father by a son, very well-written, very moving at times and always admirably fair. What books like these do, at their best, is bring the subject back to life. That's what this one does. It's a special achievement. As a biography of a remarkable man, and as a family memoir, it works extremely well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Affectionate Remembrance of Father By Son, 24 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
Essentially this is 2 books in one.firstly the unpublished book written by Arnold Ridley and then the book written by the author connecting him with his own children.As his father was 51 when he was born the author has to rely for much on his fathers pastlife on the unpublished manuscript.So there are lots of gaps.Given that he had such a bad First World War why did he join up again in 1939 when he was 43.He was evacuated from Dunkirk.When was he discharged?Also we are told of the loss of his fortune.He states that this was because whilst he was making a film in 1938,his distributor went broke for hundreds of thousands of pounds,so he couldnt complete the film he was making and financing.Now the only big company to go broke in 1938 was Gaumont British.They didnt tend to distribute quota quickies.Ridleys only other film as a director was in 1936 and this was a quota quickie .This would have cost 6400 pounds,hardly afortune even then.All rather unexplained.Anyway an interesting book particularly when it concentrates on Arnold Ridley.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fathers, Sons and Ghosts, 7 Sept. 2009
By 
David Blackie - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son (Paperback)
For the second time this year I have had the pleasure of reading a book written by someone I count as a friend. Knowing the author of a book, particularly when the book is very personal, adds an extra dimension because you can seek and find the person you know in the telling, and enjoy finding your perceptions nuanced and enriched. Nic Ridley's book "Godfrey's Ghost - from father to son" is a great deal more, however, than a book to be read by his friends. At one level it is a book for a single reader, his son Christopher. At another it is a book for us all. At one level it is a biography of man who made his career as a playwright and actor, but who also fought in two world wars and who saw both triumph and disaster, personally and financially. At another it is an exploration of the father-son relationship, as well as a relentless self-examination, and even a philosophical odyssey.

Nic Ridley's father was Arnold Ridley, celebrated as a young man as author of "The Ghost Train", and in his old age and in the 25 years since his death as Private Godfrey in the hugely successful series "Dad's Army". For his son Christopher, Nic wants to separate the man from the actor, and more specifically from the benign, acquiescent, bumbling, geriatric part of Godfrey, which to this day he can see on his television screen almost any week of the year. In telling his father's story, and in his quest for the true depiction of his character, Nic also turns the microscope quite ruthlessly on himself, not sparing the anger, the selfishness, or the harshness, while not obscuring his tenderness, his deep sense of loyalty towards, and love of, his family, which are also woven into his quest. This book is a fascinating construct, an engrossing story, a moving and intimate examination of family, and will be an enduring record of a man who treated "those two impostors just the same". And it is quite beautifully written. In this respect, as in so many others, the author is his father's son.
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Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son
Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son by Nicolas Ridley (Paperback - 1 Sept. 2009)
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