Meet Basil and Madge Lambert, the World War II veterans whose love story lit up Strictly’s Remembrance Sunday

From Burma to Saigon and back to Britain, Basil and Madge's enduring love survived the darkest of days


Basil and Madge Lambert’s love story provided the inspiration for Strictly Come Dancing’s Remembrance Sunday professional dance, and when you read their extraordinary tale it’s not hard to see why.


Who are Basil and Madge Lambert?

Basil Lambert grew up in Woking in Surrey and when the Second World War, he and his younger brother didn’t wait for the call to come – they decided to volunteer for service immediately.

He was given a commission in the Indian Army and set a course for Burma that would change his life.

Madge, meanwhile, was born and raised in Dover in Kent, but made the trek to Buckinghamshire to become a nurse at Stoke Mandeville Nursing Hospital during the Second World War

A far greater trip awaited her though, when she volunteered to travel to India to become an international nurse, just before her 21st birthday. She celebrated the milestone while crossing the Bay of Biscay.

How did Basil and Madge meet?

Madge tells the Royal British Legion that they first met in Chittagong in 1944, and that she and her husband-to-be got off on the wrong foot. She was on the hunt for some stamps to send letters home and her friend Mack just so happened to have a few.

“I go down to Mack’s room, and there’s this man sitting there with his feet up on a stool, reading. He glances up, puts his feet down so I can get through and then he carries on reading.

“When I got outside I said to Mack: ‘Who does he think he is?’.”

Basil may have played it cool then, but it didn’t take him long to ask Madge out. He sent her a message the next day saying he’d pick her up at 8pm, and the rest became history.

What happened to Basil and Madge during World War II?

The pair found it very hard to spend time together, given the demands of the conflict, but they did manage to steal away for a few precious hours every now and again.

Communication became increasingly difficult as Basil was moved about and it didn’t get any easier as the war ended – Basil was sent to Saigon.

He finally came home to England in 1947 and the two were married.


In October 2016 they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.