If any proof was needed that classic British comedy Dad’s Army is still as dear in the nation’s hearts as it was when it first aired 50 years ago, then chatting to actor Frank Williams in the week the Post Office released special Dad’s Army stamps, has to be it.

Frank is back at the Colchester Arts Centre with his More Tea Vicar show, an afternoon with the actor who played the legendary vicar in the long-running classic.

Now in his 80s, Frank is one of the last remaining stars of the show, which continues, through regular repeats on television, to be much loved by viewers of all ages.

Frank says: “Although at the time we knew how popular it was, I don’t think anyone quite imagined it would still be going strong after all these years and several generations later.

“Every year, the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society has an open day at the Bressingham Steam Museum, in Norfolk. There is a huge static display there with a lot of Dad’s Army memorabilia.

“At this day we have a huge number of people come along, from grandparents to children and everyone in between, all who love the show.

“And now we have our own stamps, which is also rather lovely.”

Written by David Croft and Jimmy Perry, Dad’s Army ran for nine series and 80 episodes from 1968 to 1977.

Starring, among others, Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring, John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Wilson, Clive Dunn as Lance-Corporal Jones and Ian Lavender as Private “don’t tell him your name” Pike, it was voted fourth in a poll of Britain’s greatest ever sitcoms in 2004.

Chelmsford Weekly News: Frank Williams

Although Frank didn’t play one of the main characters, his cameo as the vicar, the Reverend Timothy Farthing, soon became entrenched in the make-up of the show.

“When I was still at school I used to go to the theatre in Watford all the time,” he says. “After I became an actor myself, and had become quite well known for appearing in the Army Game, I became chairman of the theatre’s support group.

“At that time, Jimmy Perry was running it, so I got to know him quite well.

“One day, my agent called and said the makers of the show wanted me to play the vicar.

“I had to be honest despite the show having run for two series already, I hadn’t seen it, but I knew it was doing well and I thought I would do it for Jimmy Perry and David Croft.

“The first episode I was in was The Desperate Drive of Lance Corporal Jones, which was notable because it was the first one to feature Jones’ van.

“When I got there I thought it would just be a week’s job and that would be it but the vicar kept coming back and in the end I was in 40 of the 80 episodes they did, but I also did the feature film, radio show and the West End run.”

Frank was particular fond of the stage production, which ran for six months in the West End before going on a national tour in 1975.

As part of his More Tea Vicar show, which arrives at the Colchester Arts Centre this Sunday, there will be a chance to see exclusive cine film, shot by Frank, of the tour, taking fans behind the scenes to catch a glimpse of the stars like you’ve never seen them before.

“It was a wonderful time in my life,” he adds. “We travelled all around the country and actually became quite close as a group. I think you only get to know someone really well when you do something like that.”

Born in Edgware, north London, in 1931, Frank started his acting career as an assistant stage manager working in theatres across London.

“My generation were great cinema-goers,” he explains, “and that’s where it came from, really, a love of the cinema. My parents insisted I stayed on at school and do my exams, which I did, but as soon as I left, I went to find a job in the theatre.”

It wasn’t long before Frank got his chance, appearing in several stage shows, films and television programmes, including three Norman Wisdom films and eventually the Army Game.

“That’s what made my name,” he tells me. “I became quite well known then and started getting offers for various things.”

Such as an appearance on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

“Yes, that was perhaps the most surreal thing I’ve ever done,” he laughs. “They were a great bunch and although they did have a script, which I was working to, they did tend to make some of it up as they went along.

“I was playing a barrister and at the same time a police officer and I remember one of my lines was ‘don’t call me Gerald’.

“Then in the middle of it all, they decide to get their wives to play jury members but have them dressed as men. Bizarre is about right.”

As well as the Army Game and Dad’s Army, Frank fondly remembers his time in You Rang My Lord.

Chelmsford Weekly News: Popular character - the many faces of actor Frank Williams

“I know it was Jimmy and David’s favourite,” he says, “and because they were very loyal to their actors a lot of us familiar faces were in it including me, a lot of the Hi-di-Hi lot and Bill Pertwee as well.

“It was a jolly old cast in all and great fun to do so I’m really surprised it doesn’t get the repeats like the other shows do.”

But it is being in Dad’s Army that Frank will be forever remembered for, even by members of the Royal Family.

“A few years ago I was invited to Clarence House for the 130th anniversary of the Actor’s Benevolent,” Frank recalls, “and I was introduced to Prince Charles as the man who played the vicar in Dad’s Army. He replied ‘that was my dear grandmother’s favourite programme’ which we kind of all knew, but it was rather lovely hearing it from him all the same.”

More Tea Vicar with Frank Williams is at the Colchester Arts Centre, Church Street, Colchester, on Sunday.

Doors open at 1pm and the show starts at 1.30pm. Tickets, at £13.50 and £11.50 for concessions are available by calling 01206 500900 or online at colchesterartscentre.com