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Dad's Army

Dad’s Army is a British sitcom about the Home Guard in the Second World War. It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and broadcast on BBC television between 1968 and 1977. The series ran for 80 episodes in total, plus a radio series, a feature film and a stage show. The series regularly gained audiences of 18 million viewers during the 1970s and is still repeated today on BBC Two.

The British Home Guard consisted of local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, usually owing to age, and as such the series starred several veterans of British film, television and stage, including Arthur Lowe (1915–1982), John Le Mesurier (1912–1983), Arnold Ridley (also a veteran playwright; 1896–1984) and John Laurie (1897–1980). Relative youngsters in the regular cast were Ian Lavender (b.1946), Clive Dunn (b.1920), who was made-up to play the elderly Jones, and James Beck (1929–1973), the last-named dying suddenly part way through the programme’s long run despite being the second youngest cast member.

In 2004, Dad's Army was voted into fourth place in a BBC poll to find Britain's Best Sitcom. Previously, in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, it was placed thirteenth. The series has had a profound influence on popular culture in the United Kingdom, with the series' catchphrases and characters well known. It is also credited with having highlighted a hitherto forgotten aspect of defence during World War II. The Radio Times magazine listed Captain Mainwaring's "You stupid boy!" among the 25 greatest put-downs on TV .

Origins

Originally intended to be called The Fighting Tigers, Dad’s Army was based partly on co-writer and creator Jimmy Perry’s real-life experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers (later known as the Home Guard). Perry had been 15 years old when he joined the 10th Hertfordshire Battalion and with a mother who did not like him being out at night and fearing he might catch cold, he bore more than a passing resemblance to the character of Frank Pike. An elderly lance corporal in the outfit often referred to fighting under Kitchener against the "Fuzzy Wuzzies" and proved to be a perfect model for Jones. Other influences were the film Whisky Galore!, and the work of comedians such as Will Hay whose film Oh, Mr Porter! featured a pompous ass, an old man and a young man which gave him Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike. Another influence was Robb Wilton.

Perry wrote the first script and gave it to David Croft while working as a minor actor in the Croft-produced sitcom Hugh and I, originally intending the role of the spiv, Walker, to be his own. Croft was impressed and sent the script to Michael Mills, Head of Comedy at the BBC. After addressing initial concerns that the programme was making fun of the efforts of the Home Guard, the series was commissioned.

In his book, Dad's Army, Graham McCann explained that the show owes a lot to Michael Mills. It was he who renamed the show Dad's Army. He did not like Brightsea-on-Sea so the location was changed to Walmington-on-Sea. He was happy with the names for the characters Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike but not with other names and he made suggestions: Private Jim Duck became Frazer, Joe Fish became Joe Walker and Jim Jones became Jack Jones. He also suggested adding a Scot to the mix. Jimmy Perry had produced the original idea but was in need of an experienced man to see it through. Mills suggested David Croft and so the successful partnership began.

Situation

The show was set in the fictional seaside town of Walmington-on-Sea, on the south coast of England (although the external scenes were mostly filmed in and around Thetford, Norfolk.) Thus, the Home Guard were on the front line in the eventuality of an invasion by the enemy forces across the English Channel, which formed a backdrop to the series. The first series had a loose narrative thread, with Captain Mainwaring’s platoon being formed and equipped—initially with wooden guns and LDV armbands, and later on full army uniforms; the platoon were part of the The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

The first episode, "The Man and the Hour," began with a scene set in the 'present day' of 1968, in which Mainwaring addressed his old platoon as part of the contemporary 'I'm Backing Britain' campaign. The prologue opening was a condition imposed after initial concerns by Paul Fox, the controller of BBC 1, that it was belittling the efforts of the Home Guard. After Mainwaring relates how he had backed Britain in 1940, the episode proper began; Dad’s Army is thus told in flashback, although the final episode does not return to the then-present. Later episodes were largely self-contained, albeit referring to previous events and with additional character development.

Since the comedy was in many ways dependent for its effectiveness on the platoon’s failure to participate actively in World War II, opposition to their activities had to come from another quarter, and this generally showed itself in the form of Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Warden Hodges, although sometimes the Verger of the local church, or Captain Square and the neighbouring Eastgate Home Guard platoon. However the group did have some encounters related to the war such as downed German planes, a U-boat crew, parachutes that may have been German, and German mines.

The humour ranged from the subtle (especially in the relationship between Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson, who also happened to be his deputy at the bank) to the slapstick (the antics of the elderly Jones being a prime example). Jones had several catchphrases, including "Don't panic!", "They don’t like it up ’em", "Permission to speak, sir", and talk about "the Fuzzy-Wuzzies". Mainwaring said "Stupid boy", in reference to Pike, in many, if not most episodes. The first series occasionally included darker humour, reflecting the fact that, especially early in the war, members of the Home Guard were woefully under-equipped and yet still prepared to have a crack at the German Army. A poignant moment to this theme occurs in "The Battle of Godfrey’s Cottage" episode, during which the platoon believes an invasion to be taking place. Mainwaring and three volunteers decide to stay at the cottage to delay any German advance, to give the rest of the platoon time to warn the town; "Of course, that will be the end of us", says Mainwaring. "We know sir", replies Frazer, before getting on with the task in hand.

Characters

Main characters

  • Captain George Mainwaring (pronounced “Mannering”) (Arthur Lowe)—the pompous—if essentially brave and unerringly patriotic—local bank manager, Mainwaring appointed himself leader of his town’s contingent of Local Defence Volunteers. Born in Eastbourne in 1885, his father a proprietor of a modest little draper's shop in a side street (although he claimed a high class gentleman's outfitters on The Parade) his childhood was one of long struggle unlike his brash, sporty, effortlessly popular twin brother, Barry. He managed to win a scholarship to the local grammar school and afterwards joined the Eastbourne branch of Swallow's Bank as office boy and worked his way up to Chief Clerk. He did actually try to get into the war in 1914 but was rejected because of poor eyesight and after several more unsuccessful attempts was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Pioneer Corps in 1919. Of the platoon, he and Joe Walker were the only adult members with no prior combat experience, and, therefore, had no medals—a fact which sometimes caused tension with the other members of the Home Guard. He did, however, serve in the British Army of occupation in France, “during the whole of 1919—somebody had to clean up the mess.” In the early 1930s Mainwaring was promoted to the Manager of the Walmington-on-Sea branch of Swallow's Bank and set up home at 23, Lime Crescent in that town. Although an ensemble piece, the series focused particularly upon Mainwaring, who has invested all his efforts into the platoon as a way of escaping from an unhappy marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of a bishop, and a stalled career at the bank. Mainwaring always claimed he never got any further in his career because unlike Wilson he had not gone to the right school.
  • Sergeant Arthur Wilson (John Le Mesurier)—a diffident, upper-class bank clerk who would quietly question Mainwaring's judgement ("Do you think that's wise?"). Wilson was nonetheless Mainwaring’s junior in the bank and on parade; his suave, understated social superiority, public school education and handsome looks led to a certain amount of jealousy on Mainwaring’s part. He was born in 1882 in a large rambling house in Gloucestershire and had an uncle in the House of Lords. An attentive nanny made his childhood idyllic and he got his education at the medium-sized Meadowbridge Public School. After failing the exam to enter the Indian Civil Service, he began life working in The City. After war broke out, Wilson joined the army in 1915 and served till 1918. During World War I he fought in the Royal Artillery at Mons, Gallipoli and the Somme. While in the first episode he claimed the rank of Sergeant, in the last episode he revealed that he had been a Captain. After the war he met and married one of Sir Charles Cochran's Young Ladies and she left him after the birth of their only daughter, who would grow up to serve in the WRNS. In the 1930s while working at the Weston-Super-Mare branch of Swallow's Bank, he met an attractive young widow, Mavis Pike, with whom he may have fathered a son (Frank's parentage is deliberately ambiguous throughout the series). When promotion to Chief Clerk took him to Walmington-on-Sea under George Mainwaring, Mrs Pike followed with her young son, Frank.
  • Lance-Corporal Jack Jones (Clive Dunn)—born in 1870, Jones was an old campaigner who had joined up as a drummer boy aged 14 and participated, as a boy soldier, in the campaign of Kitchener of Khartoum in the Sudan between 1896 and 1898, and also fought in the Boer War and later in World War I. During WWI he was discharged because of his eyesight. By 1940 he worked as the town butcher, which occasionally enabled him to supplement his superiors’ meat ration. Being a butcher also meant he owned a large van, which is seen frequently in the episodes as a transport for the platoon. The feature film features Jones's van prominently, when it is modified so than it runs off gas and has holes in the side to shoot through. Jones was leader of the platoon’s first section. He has a story for every occasion, and will never hesitate in telling it, regardless of how long-winded or irrelevant it is. Despite being the oldest member of the platoon, Jones demonstrates an almost boyish enthusiasm for combat and is the first to volunteer for anything, no matter how ill-advised that may be. In the episode "Museum Piece" we find that Jones' 88 year old father is still alive and is watchman at the Peabody Museum of Historical Weapons. There is a mention of Jones' Elsie, not confirmed as a spouse as Jones was confirmed as a bachelor in the final episode "Never Too Old", where Jones married Mrs Fox (a life long love interest).
  • Private Joe Walker (James Beck)—a black marketspiv,” Walker was the only fit, able-bodied man of military age in Walmington-on-Sea’s Home Guard. His absence from the regular armed forces was due to a corned beef allergy, evidenced in the episode “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker.” Mainwaring often turned a blind eye to his profiteering as he could sometimes supply the platoon (and Mainwaring) with useful items. On more than one occasion, Walker’s willingness to use underhand tactics allowed Mainwaring’s platoon to triumph over rivals in the Home Guard, Army and ARP. A chain-smoker of black market cigarettes, even when on parade, he was disciplined several times by Captain Mainwaring for making jokes at inappropriate times. The actress Wendy Richard appeared in Dad's Army (first as Edith Parrish, and later as Private Walker's girl-friend Shirley).
  • Private Frank Pike (Ian Lavender)—a cosseted mother’s boy, constantly wearing a thick scarf with his uniform to prevent illness, and often the target of Mainwaring’s derision (“Stupid boy!”), Pike was a junior bank clerk. He called Wilson “Uncle Arthur,” and although never explicitly stated, it was often implied that Wilson and Pike’s mother were having a relationship. It was also occasionally suggested that Wilson was Pike’s father (although the writers only acknowledged this in interviews after the programme ended). He frequently threatens to set his mother on Mainwaring or Wilson whenever he is shouted at or forced to do anything he doesn’t want to do. He was seventeen and an avid movie fan, often recalling and renacting things he'd seen in films.
  • Private James Frazer (John Laurie)—a dour Scottish coffin maker and a Chief Petty Officer on the HMS Defiant in the Royal Navy who served at the Battle of Jutland (although as a cook). He was subsequently demoted after a drunken accident with a boat hook. Frazer was tight with money, had wild staring eyes, and was known for issuing regular pronouncements of doom ("We're doooooomed..."). In the early episodes, Frazer was the keeper of a philately shop, but by series four, the writers had decided that he should become the local undertaker, in keeping with his gloomy nature. He sometimes led rebellions against Mainwaring and was the only member of the platoon to be portrayed as a villain in episodes such as “A Soldier's Farewell”, “The Two and a Half Feathers”, and “If The Cap Fits”, where he took over the role as Captain though for the most part he was loyal and well-intentioned.
  • Private Charles Godfrey (Arnold Ridley)—the platoon’s medical orderly, who had served in World War I as a conscientious-objecting medical orderly, winning the Military Medal at the Battle of the Somme where he went out into No Man’s Land and saved several lives (as mentioned in the episode “Branded”) before becoming a tailor at the Army & Navy Stores where he had worked for 25 years. Godfrey, said to be 59, was an amiable, vague, lifelong bachelor who lived with his sisters Dolly and Cissy in an idyllic cottage (Cherry Tree Cottage), and was a martyr to his weak bladder, leading to many requests to be “excused.” He was very loyal to Captain Mainwaring, except on one occasion when he took part in a plot to make Mainwaring’s feet hurt.
  • ARP Warden William Hodges (Bill Pertwee)—the platoon’s major rival and nemesis. An uncompromising, grumpy greengrocer by day, and pompous and officious Chief Air Raid Warden by night, he relishes in teasing the platoon when they are caught in sticky situations. His nickname for Mainwaring is “Napoleon.”
  • Mrs. Mavis Pike (Janet Davies)—Pike’s mother and Sergeant Wilson’s lover. She was fiercely protective of Pike, to the point that she was accused of “mollycoddling” him—not without justification—by Captain Mainwaring. It is stated that Mrs. Pike met Arthur Wilson prior to Frank Pike’s birth, and also lived in Weston Super-Mare at the same time as Wilson, lending credence to the theory that Wilson is Pike’s father.
  • Reverend Timothy Farthing (Frank Williams)—The effeminate vicar of St. Aldhelm’s Church, he shares his church hall and office with Mainwaring’s platoon, much to his dismay because he never gets to use it when he needs it.
  • Maurice Yeatman (Edward Sinclair)—Mr. Yeatman was the verger at St. Aldhelm’s Church and head of the Sea Scouts group, and was often hostile to the platoon. Labelled a “troublemaker” by Jones, he is ridiculously loyal to the vicar, and his good friend Mr. Hodges.
  • Private Sponge (Colin Bean)—Private Sponge had the thankless job of representing those members of the platoon not in Corporal Jones’ “first section.” A sheep farmer by day, the long-suffering Sponge had few lines, but was a recognisable member of the platoon for most episodes in the series.
  • Private Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas)—The Welsh Private Cheeseman joined the Walmington-on-Sea platoon during the seventh series to compensate for the death of James Beck who played Private Walker. He joins the platoon as a “war correspondent” (W.C.) with the aim to write a series of articles on the local Home Guard units. He did not return in the eighth series.

Opening credits

The show's opening titles were originally intended to feature footage of refugees and Nazi troops, in order to illustrate the threat faced by the Home Guard. Despite opposition from the BBC's Head of Comedy Michael Mills, BBC One's controller Paul Fox ordered that these be removed on the grounds that they were "offensive". The replacement titles featured the now familiar animated sequence of swastika-headed arrows approaching Britain.

Music

The show’s theme tune, “Dad's Army#Theme song” was Jimmy Perry’s idea, intended as a gentle pastiche of wartime songs. It is not uncommon for people to assume the song dates from the war (as other music in the series does). Perry wrote the lyric himself, and composed the music with Derek Taverner. Perry persuaded one of his childhood idols, wartime entertainer Bud Flanagan, to sing the theme for 100 guineas. Flanagan died less than a year after the recording.

The version played over the opening credits differs slightly from the full version recorded by Flanagan; an abrupt but inconspicuous edit removes, for timing reasons, two lines of lyrics with a different tune: “So watch out Mr Hitler, you have met your match in us/If you think you can crush us, we’re afraid you’ve missed the bus.” Bud Flanagan’s full version appears as an Easter egg on the first series DVD release. Arthur Lowe also recorded a full version of the theme.

The closing credits feature an instrumental march version of the song played by the Band of the Coldstream Guards conducted by Captain Trevor L. Sharpe, ending with the air-raid warning siren sounding all-clear. It is accompanied by a style of credits that became a trademark of David Croft: the caption “You have been watching,” followed by vignettes of the main cast.

The series is also notable for genuine wartime songs between scenes, usually brief quotations that have some reference to the theme of the episode or the scene.

TV episodes

The television series lasted nine series and was broadcast over nine years, with 80 episodes in total, including three Christmas specials and an hour-long special. At its peak in the early 1970s, the programme regularly gained audiences of 18.5 million. There were also four short specials broadcast as part of Christmas Night with the Stars in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1972.

Missing episodes

Until 1978 the BBC (along with ITV) did not have proper archives for programmes recorded on video tape. This, combined with the cost of 2 inch Quadruplex videotape reels and no appreciation of future commercial possibilities, resulted in significant amounts of material being wiped after they were transmitted (contractual agreements at that time often allowed for one repeat showing before being wiped).

While the BBC has recovered many recordings from overseas broadcasters and private collectors, many are still missing. Dad's Army is less affected than most, but three second-series episodes are lost, and one third-series episode was filmed in colour but only exists in black and white. Two further series-two episodes were believed lost until 2001. Two lost episodes have since been performed as part of the latest stage show.

Film

As with many British sitcoms of that era, in 1971 Dad’s Army was made into a feature film. Backers Columbia Pictures imposed arbitrary changes, such as recasting Liz Fraser as Mavis Pike and filming outdoors in Chalfont St Giles rather than Thetford, which made the cast unhappy. The director Norman Cohen, who was also responsible for the idea to make the film, was nearly fired by the studio.

Jimmy Perry and David Croft wrote the original screenplay. This was expanded by Cohen to try to make it more cinematic; Columbia executives made more changes to plot and pacing. As finally realised, two-thirds of the film consists of the creation of the platoon—this was the contribution of Perry and Croft—and the final third shows the platoon in action, rescuing hostages from the church hall where they’d been held captive by three German pilots.

Neither the cast nor Perry and Croft were happy with the result. Perry spent time arguing for changes to try to reproduce the style of the television series, but with mixed results.

Filming took place between 10 August and 25 September 1970, at Shepperton Studios and various locations. After shooting the film, the cast returned to working on the fourth television series.

The film’s UK première was on 12 March 1971 at the Columbia Theatre, London. Critical reviews were mixed, but it performed well at the UK box office. Discussions were held about a possible sequel, to be called Dad’s Army and the Secret U-Boat Base, but the project never came to fruition.

Stage show

In 1975 Dad’s Army transferred to the stage as a revue, with songs, familiar scenes from the show, and individual “turns” for cast members. It was created by Roger Redfarn, who shared the same agent as the sitcom writers. Most of the principal cast transferred with it, with the exception of John Laurie (he was replaced by Hamish Roughead). Following James Beck’s death two years earlier, Walker was played by John Bardon.

Dad’s Army: A Nostalgic Music and Laughter Show of Britain’s Finest Hour opened at Billingham in County Durham on 4 September 1975 for a two-week tryout. After cuts and revisions, the show transferred to London’s West End and opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 2 October 1975. On the opening night there was a surprise appearance by Chesney Allen, singing the old Flanagan and Allen song Hometown with Arthur Lowe.

The show ran in the West End until February 1976, disrupted twice by bomb scares, and then toured the country until 4 September 1976. Clive Dunn was replaced for half the tour by Jack Haig (David Croft’s original first choice for the role of Corporal Jones on television). Jeffrey Holland, who went on to star in several later Croft sitcoms, also had a number of roles in the production.

The stage show, billed as Dad’s Army—The Musical, was staged in Australia and toured New Zealand in 2004-2005, starring Jon English.

In April 2007, a new stage show was announced with cast members including Leslie Grantham as Private Walker and Emmerdale actor Peter Martin as Captain Mainwaring. The production contained the episodes "A Stripe for Frazer", "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker", "Room at the Bottom" and "The Deadly Attachment".

Radio series

Many TV episodes were remade for BBC Radio 4 with the original cast, although other actors played Walker after James Beck’s death. These radio versions were adapted by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles and also starred John Snagge as a newsreader who would set the scene for each episode. Different actors were used for some of the minor parts; Mollie Sugden played the role of Mrs Fox and Pearl Hackney played the role of Mrs. Pike for example. The pilot episode was actually based on the revised version of events seen in the opening of the film version rather than the TV pilot. The entire radio series has been released on CD.

Knowles and Snoad also developed a radio series It Sticks Out Half a Mile, which told what happened to some of the Dad’s Army characters after the war. It was originally intended to star Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier reprising their Dad’s Army roles, but Lowe died shortly after recording the pilot episode, and Bill Pertwee and Ian Lavender were brought in to replace him for a 13-episode series.

Jimmy Perry wrote a radio sketch The Boy Who Saved England for the Last Night at the Paris evening broadcast on Radio 2 on 3 June 1995. It featured Ian Lavender as Pike, Bill Pertwee as Hodges, Frank Williams as the Vicar and Jimmy Perry as General Haverlock-Seabag.

Other appearances

Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier and John Laurie themselves made a cameo appearance as their Dad’s Army characters in the 1977 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special. As Elton John is following incomprehensible instructions to find the BBC studios, he encounters them in a steam room. On leaving, Mainwaring calls him a “stupid boy.”. Earlier, Le Mesurier, Laurie, Beck, Ridley and Lavender had appeared as guests in the 22 April 1971 edition of The Morecambe and Wise Show on BBC2 playing pirates to Lowe’s captain in the Monty on the Bonty sketch. The cast also appeared in a 1970s public information film, in character but set in the modern day, showing how to cross the road safely at traffic lights.

A pilot episode for an American remake called The Rear Guard was produced by ABC and broadcast on 10 August 1976, based on the episode “The Deadly Attachment.” However, it failed to make it past the pilot stage—probably due to the fact there was never a realistic chance of a German invasion of the United States, unlike Britain.

Le Mesurier and Lowe made a final appearance in Dad's Army garb for a 1982 television commercial advertising Wispa chocolate bars. Clive Dunn made occasional appearances as Corporal Jones at 1940s themed events in the 1980s and 1990s.

Memorabilia

As was common with popular TV series, various forms of memorabilia and merchandise were released throughout the run and continued many years after.

  • At least 10 jigsaw puzzles with pictures from the TV series.
  • A set of 25 cigarette cards featuring scenes from the film was released in 1971.
  • Two board games, one as a promotion by Ovaltine in 1971 and another in 1974.
  • A Pan/Piccolo book of their adventures in comic form with storylines by R.A.G Clarke and pictures by Bill Titcombe. It was released in 1973 and cost 20p in the UK. It contained six stories.
  • Models of Jones’ and Hodges’ vans, a Walmington-on-Sea taxi, and a Walmington newspaper van were part of a Radio Times promotion.
  • Corgi released 1:50 scale models of a Thornycroft van as Jones the butcher's van and Bedford 0 Series as Hodges’ van. Each came with a figurine of the character.
  • The Imar Models series of 1:32 scale WW2 figurines includes a “Home Guard Captain” which, although not advertised as such, bears a striking resemblance to Captain Mainwaring.
  • Foundry Models released a series of Home Guard figurines as part of the “England Invaded!” series. Although not directly advertised as such, the figurines were clearly based on characters from the series. Available were different models depicting members of the platoon (Mainwaring, Wilson, Pike, Frazer, Jones and Godfrey) in various poses, along with a “civilian” collection featuring figurines based on Hodges, the Vicar, Verger and Mrs Pike.

Awards

During its original television run, Dad’s Army was nominated for a number of British Academy Television Awards, although only won “Best Light Entertainment Production Team” in 1971. It was nominated as “Best Situation Comedy” in 1973, 1974 and 1975. Also, Arthur Lowe was frequently nominated for “Best Light Entertainment Performance” in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1978.

In 2000, the show was voted 13th in a British Film Institute poll of industry professionals of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. In 2004, championed by Phill Jupitus, it came fourth in the BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom with 174,138 votes.

Cultural influence

The characters of Dad’s Army and their catchphrases are well known in the UK due to the popularity of the series when originally shown and the frequency of repeats.

Jimmy Perry recalls that before writing the sitcom, the Home Guard was a largely forgotten aspect of Britain's defence in World War II, something which the series has certainly rectified. In a 1972 Radio Times interview, Arthur Lowe expresses surprise at the programme’s success;

"We expected the show to have limited appeal, to the age group that lived through the war and the Home Guard. We didn’t expect what has happened—that children from the age of five upwards would enjoy it too.

In popular culture

Other productions have included characters resembling members of the Dad’s Army platoon for comic effect. The 1987 movie Hope and Glory includes a scene in which members of the Home Guard, looking like characters from Dad’s Army, bring an escaped barrage balloon under control. Similarly, characters called Mainwaring (Alec Linstead), Wilson (Terence Hardiman) and a clerk similar to Pike appear in a scene set in a 1940s bank in an episode of the 1990s time travel sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart. The central character, Gary Sparrow (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst), who is from the 1990s, is astounded to learn that the three are all members of the local Home Guard platoon, and sings some lines of “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?” at them. Some of the characters have also appeared in the comic book Jack Staff in flashbacks to the hero’s activities during the war.

Several of Ben Elton’s productions have featured characters inspired by Dad’s Army. In the Blackadder Goes Forth episode “Corporal Punishment,” two minor characters named Corporal Jones and Private Frazer are introduced. Also in this series, the title and credit music are performed by an army marching band (The Band of the 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment), as in Dad’s Army. Many of the characters in the Ben Elton sitcom The Thin Blue Line can be compared with those of Dad’s Army. Fowler’s relationship with Grim is very similar to that of Captain Mainwaring to Warden Hodges, in that they are both on the same side yet enemies. Also, Constable Goody is rather like Private Pike in being a “stupid boy” that irritates Fowler. Similar comparisons can be drawn from many of the minor characters. In the episode Rag Week, Fowler is briefly seen walking out of a shop called “Mainwaring’s.”

Bressingham Steam & Gardens in Norfolk, England has a large Dad’s Army-themed display with replicas of the church hall and vicar’s office, Frazer’s Workshop and Funeral Directors, Swallow’s Bank, Jones’ butcher's shop, Post Office and stores, Francis Cupiss printers and David Cooke toyshop. The museum now has many of the vehicles used in the TV series in its collection including Jones’ butcher's van, motorcycles, traction engines and fire engines.

Ian Botham famously referred to the Australian national cricket team as a Dad's Army before the 2006-2007 Ashes series, suggesting the Australian players were too old. Australia won the series 5-0.

Media releases

Main articles: Dad's Army books, Dad's Army DVD and Video releases and Dad's Army Audio releases.

The BBC released two "Best of" DVD sets in October 2001 and September 2002, but it wasn’t until September 2004 that the full series began to be released, with the first series and the surviving episodes of the second series being released first, along with the documentary Missing Presumed Wiped. By November 2007, the entire series had been released, with the final edition featuring the specials "The Battle of the Giants" "The Love of Three Oranges" and "My Brother and I", along with various other appearances including several "Christmas Night with the Stars" sketches. The DVDs also include short individual biographical documentaries about the characters and their actors called We Are the Boys. In addition, the Columbia film adaptation is also available.

References

Further reading

  • Croft, David; Perry, Jimmy; Webber, Richard (2003). Dad’s Army: The Complete Scripts. Orion. ISBN 0-7528-6024-0
  • Croft, David (2004). You Have Been Watching...: The Autobiography of David Croft. BBC Consumer Publishing (Books). ISBN 0-563-48739-9
  • Croft, David; Perry, Jimmy; Webber, Richard (2000). The Complete A-Z of Dad’s Army. Orion. ISBN 0-7528-1838-4
  • McCann, Graham (2001). Dad's Army: The story of a classic television show. Fourth Estate.
  • McKenzie,Simon (1995). The Home Guard-A military and political history. OUP. ISBN 0-19-820577-5
  • Perry, Jimmy (2003). A Stupid Boy. Arrow. ISBN 0-09-944142-X
  • Webber, Richard (1997). Dad’s Army: A Celebration. Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-7535-0307-7

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