Rebecca, Mrs Mainwaring and Mrs Ventress

Here are three very well know characters – one from a classic film and the other two from well loved British Television.

Rebecca – a Hitchcock film classic with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine

What a great film this was – beautifully made and superb acting by Joan Fontaine – I didn’t think Laurence Olivier was that good and it is said that Hitchcock wanted Ronald Colman for the role as Max De Winter but for whatever reason he did not get him. I would have thought that Ronald Colman would have been perfect as he was a brilliant screen actor – probably one of the finest.

Laurence Olivier was quite new to films and was never a good screen actor in my view

I always think that this film is dominated from the title onwards by Rebecca who dictates the action and the storyline and indeed nearly every aspect of the film – and yet she NEVER appears.

Anyone reading this will have worked out that these fictional characters all have one thing in common – they are often mentioned and have a significant impact on some of the stories – and yet we never see them on screen

Mrs Ventress

The unseen wife of PC Alf Ventress, although he often mentions her at work, off duty and throughout his retirement. Together, they have at least one daughter, Gail, who is living in Cardiff. She has an unseen sister, who lives in Whitby

Alf Ventress

It is believed that PC Bellamy has probably met Mrs Ventress at some point. In the episode when PC Ventress has gone missing, PC Bradley picks up the phone and says that it is Mrs Ventress, Phil then says ‘I’m not here!’

Also Bernie Scripps has possibly met Mrs Ventress because there was a conversation in one episode when Alf’s chimney came down which someone describes as ‘an act of god’, Bernie then says “Not even God would dare to drop a chimney on Mrs Ventress”

One of my own favourite remarks from Alf was after he had helped apprehend a quite violent criminal inside a farm shed – Alf gave him a ‘rabbit chop’ which results in the crook firing his gun in the air which gave the police the knowledge of where he was. Alf is found lying unharmed but face down in straw and manure.

Oscar Blaketon : Are you all right Alf ?

Alf Ventress : A bit winded, that’s all. A quick karate chop to get away – five years in the Commandos taught me that. And when you’re in trouble, just lie doggo – thirty years of marriage to Mrs. Ventress taught me that.

On another occasion, Sergeant Miller was having trouble in his marriage. Alf brought tea into his office and initially the sergeant was quite short with him, then he apologised and told Alf about it.

He said ‘ I can’t seem to talk to her these days’ to which Alf replied ‘ You might just try listening Sarge – I’ve found that it works wonders with Mrs Ventress

Mrs Mainwaring

Elizabeth Mainwaring was reclusive wife of Captain George Mainwaring, of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard. She did not actually appear ‘properly’ in a single episode of Dad’s Army, but a picture of her personality and character was formed throughout the series.

Mrs Elizabeth Mainwaring was the daughter of the suffragan Bishop of Clegthorpe . She married George Mainwaring, son of an Eastbourne tailor, shortly after the First World War. They spent their honeymoon on a remote Scottish island where George learned to play the bagpipes because “there was nothing else to do”.

The couple lived at 23, Lime Crescent, Walmington-on-Sea, a fictional seaside resort in Kent with a pier and such other attractions as Stone’s amusement arcade and a novelty rock emporium. Mrs Mainwaring’s parents evidently looked down on their grammar school-educated son-in-law, even after he had become assistant manager, with a partitioned cubicle of his own, at the Walmington branch of Swallow Bank.

In one episode, Mr. Mainwaring tells Wilson that Elizabeth is only fond of silent movies because she was so shocked when she heard a character on a film speak a line.

According to Mr. Mainwaring, his wife had led a sheltered life (“she hadn’t even tried tomato sauce before she met me”.) One of her hobbies was making lampshades. The marriage was childless, although Mr. Mainwaring, claimed, rather unconvincingly, that it had been “blissful”.

The Second World War

In 1940, in response to a radio broadcast by the Secretary for War Anthony Eden, her husband George (who by then was manager of the bank) set himself up as Captain of the local Home Guard (initially known as the Local Defence Volunteers).

Captain Mainwaring’s various attempts to involve his wife in the extramural activities of the platoon usually came unstuck. On one occasion he arrived at a function with a black eye which had plainly been acquired during a domestic dispute. His excuse that he had struck his eye on the linen cupboard door was greeted by the cheerful remark of Private Walker “hasn’t your old woman got a rolling pin then?”. Captain Mainwaring usually comes up with some convoluted reason why his wife is not joining in the platoon’s social functions.

He once remarked that Mrs Mainwaring had not left the house “since Munich” (in 1938). Even so, much to her husband’s horror (he fainted), she ended up playing the part of Lady Godiva (who, in the 11th century had, according to tradition, ridden naked through the streets of Coventry) during a carnival to raise money for Spitfire fighter planes. This was intended as a tribute to the city of Coventry which had suffered heavy German bombing in 1941, though the rather stuffy Captain Mainwaring had tried to prevent the town clerk, vicar and others from assessing the merits of predominantly young candidates for the role who were dressed only in their bathing costumes.

There were frequent misunderstandings involving Mrs Mainwaring. When Captain Mainwaring was holding a small party at his house for a section of his platoon, Mrs Mainwaring was heard coming downstairs, but she went back again as soon as an air raid siren sounded. Her husband’s calls for her to come down to say “hello” were ignored. When he went upstairs to encourage her, the Chief ARP Warden Bert Hodges (played by Bill Pertwee and snobbishly dismissed by George as “a greengrocer”) arrived to complain that, contrary to blackout regulations, a light was showing in the house. On being told of Captain Mainwaring’s whereabouts, Hodges misconstrued his motives: “Oh, it’s one of those sorts of parties”.

In another episode, Mr. Mainwaring obtained some cheese (a treat due to rationing) and telephoned his wife, a vegetarian, to say that he “might have a surprise for her tonight”. Predictably, this suggestion was misunderstood and Captain Mainwaring ended up sharing the cheese in his office with his urbane, long-suffering Sergeant, Arthur Wilson (John Le Mesurier).

The closest we, the viewers, ever got to seeing Elizabeth is when Captain Mainwaring is sleeping on the bottom bunk in his Anderson Air Raid Shelter. Elizabeth is above and the heavily sagging mattress gives a clue as to her figure. She is also heard groaning


It is only fair to point out that Mrs Mainwaring did appear in the excellent 2016 Dad’s Army film in which Toby Jones played Captain Mainwaring – quite superbly I would say

Mrs Mainwaring in action in the films dramatic conclusion

ABOVE Toby Jones in superb form as Captain Mainwaring

Dads Army 2015 – a dramatic scene

Whilst writing this I was tempted to include Captain Peacock – but his wife did appear in a couple of episodes of ‘Are You Being Served’

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Rebecca, Mrs Mainwaring and Mrs Ventress”

  1. Mike says:

    Excellent 2016 Dad’s Army film? That’s about as accurate as your opinion of Laurence Olivier not being a good screen actor. Utter Twaddle!

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