Born in Aldershot, Hampshire on the 9th May 1919. Serving in the army in World War II, attaining the rank of sergeant, Arthur started working as a painter and decorator in his home town. He refined his comedy act as an amateur at this time and was ultimately employed as resident comedian at London’ Windmill Theatre and expanded on his stage routines
It was on the BBC series Variety Bandbox where he started his radio career, acting with his own Aldershot accent.
His typical character was a clichéd wartime "spiv", gaining the titles as "The Prince of the Wide Boys".
His normal delivery was to tell a long long-winded ‘shaggy dog story’ at ever-increasing speed without losing clarity up to, at top speed, he would end with the catch-phrase: "Play the music! Open the cage!" Another popular catch-phrase was "Mum. Mum. They're laughing at me!"
He started to work on British television in chiefly comedy roles in the 1970s, and was recognizable because of his manner and appearance.
From 1976 to 1985 he played the Mr. Harman, maintenance man and Shop Steward. in ‘Are You Being Served?’ for BBC Television this included the 1977 film spin off. Between 1985 to 1990 he played ‘Arthur’, ‘Alf Garnett's’ pal, in In Sickness and in Health, a follow-up series to the ground breaking comedy ‘Till Death Us Do Part’.
He also featured in two British children's TV series: from 1976 to 1978 ‘The Ghosts of Motley Hall’ playing ‘Bodkin’, the Court Jester, made by Granada Television for ITV and as 'Slugger', the farm help, in Follyfoot, between 1971 to 1973, also on ITV made by Yorkshire Television.
He was in numerous films and in 1978 for British Schools TV ‘Everyday Maths’ a programme also starring Jack Wild as English's grandson.
And in 1985 for American TV he appeared in an episode of Magnum, P.I.
On 7th May 1983 he was Roy Plomley’s cast away on the BBC’s Desert island Discs.
After the death of his wife Ivy, English married a young dancer, Teresa, whom he met while working on one of his stage shows, and they had a child together – Clare Louise English.
John Inman and Jack Douglas became the child's godparents.
The marriage was later dissolved.
Arthur English passed away in 1995 due to complications from emphysema. His remains were interred with those of his first wife, Ivy, in a plot at The Park Crematorium in Aldershot.