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The thing to do was to get up much, much earlier and settle them first by reading them a story, which I did.‘And what really broke my heart was the day we walked to school — one of their hands in each of mine — and they said: “Daddy, have you noticed, we’re not crying today?

” And then I realised the terribly unsettling effect the whole thing had had on them.’He met Penny in 1966 while holding auditions at the New Arts Theatre in London, and fell in love with her instantly.

What is conspicuously scant, however, is mention of his first marriage, in 1954, to actress Eileen Moore — this is dispatched in a paragraph — and their two children, Crispin and Harriet.

The marriage ended when Eileen ran off in 1962 with her hairdresser.

”.’It is difficult to overstate the sense of loss George must have felt when, after he and Penny married in 1967, the children decided to return to their mother.

Crispin was 12, Harriet, 16; he hasn’t seen his daughter since.

Arthur’s London argot — his malapropisms; his catchphrases — crept into common parlance: ‘’er indoors’, the term he used to describe his formidable, but never visible wife, even got into the Oxford English Dictionary.

A bit of Arthur, it seems, percolated into George’s life.

Then in 1940, when he was 15, and playing a Cockney evacuee in a play called Cottage To Let, he met the actor Alastair Sim, who had a formative and enduring influence on him.George invited Penny to dinner — they had lobster followed by rice pudding — and the romance began. ‘We both felt it would be inappropriate for her to stay, because the children were with me,’ he says.‘But eventually I said: “This is silly, this going back every night. ” She fled in her MG, came back half an hour or so later and said: “Yes!‘We circled round each other for three or four days,’ recalls George.However, they soon became so friendly they dispensed with separate trailers and decided to share one.‘The climate is wrong,’ he says. ’Today, he lives near Henley-on-Thames in rural Oxfordshire with his adored second wife, actress Penny Morrell, 75, to whom he has been happily married for 46 years.

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