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However, Crispin, a successful scriptwriter, is happily back in the family fold.The break-up of his first marriage, George writes, was ‘heartbreaking for all concerned, especially for the two children’, and that the circumstances are ‘all very personal and private and have no place in a book that sets out to chronicle pride, joy and happiness’. I remark that it must have been horrendously difficult for him — working constantly as he was — coping with the disintegration of a marriage and lone parenthood. ‘I was father, mother and reader of Wind In The Willows to them,’ he smiles.

‘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.

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!

‘I think she felt she had to choose between her mum and Penny, but I didn’t impose that choice on her,’ he says. .’But the desertion of first a wife, and then a daughter, followed another significant abandonment in George’s life.

A series of stars with their wives in an advert ITV believed would help beat the BBC in the Christmas ratings. ‘I’ve offered her so many olive branches, but she’s hit me with them. He was born, in 1925, the product of an extra-marital liaison between a hotel manager and his 16-year-old employee.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.Sim and Cole went on to star in the St Trinian’s films — Sim as the batty headmistress of the fictional girls’ school, Cole as the lovable rogue, Flash Harry, who, in many ways, was a prototype for Minder’s Arthur Daley.While George is a mild man; courteous and anxious — in an old school, gentlemanly way, he admits he deplored the 2009 re-make of Minder (starring Shane Richie as Archie Daley).He is on the far right alongside Eamonn Andrews, Rolf Harris, Ernie Wise, Eric Sykes, Michael Aspel, and Eric Morecambe - and Penny Cole Would he welcome her now if she sought a rapprochement? They brokered his adoption — at ten days old — by a man named George Cole, a council manual worker, and his wife Florence, a cleaner.

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