Dad's ArmyDad's Army is a humorous British sitcom of the 1960s - 1970s about the Home Guard in WW 2. It was popular at the time, and is still often repeated. It starred several veterans of British film, television and stage, including Arthur Lowe (1915-82), John Le Mesurier (John Elton Halliley; 1912-83), Arnold Ridley (also a veteran playwright; 1896-1984), John Laurie (1897-1980) and Clive Dunn (1922- ). Relative newcomers in the regular cast were Ian Lavender (1946- ) and James Beck, the latter dying suddenly part way through the programme's long run, despite being one of the youngest cast members.
It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft based partly on Jimmy Croft's experience in the Home Guard but also on the work of comedians such as Will Hay. Lowe played Captain Mainwaring (pronounced "Mannering"), a bank manager who appoints himself leader of his town's Local Defence Volunteers - later known as the Home Guard - contingent, a motley crew which includes:
- Sergeant Arthur Wilson (Le Mesurier), an upper-class bank clerk - Mainwaring's inferior both at the bank and on parade, although his social superior, which leads to a certain amount of jealousy on Mainwaring's part
- Private Joe Walker (Beck), a spiv; Mainwaring turns a blind eye to his black market activities because he can sometimes supply the platoon with useful items
- Private Frank Pike, a mother's boy (Lavender), who was a junior bank clerk and secretly the Sergeant's son (this was always implied but never confirmed in the series, although the writers have confirmed it in interviews)
- Private James Frazer (Laurie), a dour Scottish undertaker with wild staring eyes, issuing regular pronouncements of doom
- Private Godfrey (Ridley), amiable and a bit vague, and a martyr to his weak bladder
- Lance-Corporal Jack Jones (Dunn), an old campaigner who served under Gordon of Khartoum amongst others, now working as the town butcher (which occasionally enables him to bribe his superiors with meat). The part was auditioned for by David Jason. Jones has several catch-phrases, including:
- Don't panic!
- They don't like it up 'em
- Permission to speak, sir
- The Fuzzy-Wuzzies
Since the comedy was 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 the ARP Warden Bert Hodges, in daily life a greengrocer, played by Bill Pertwee. There was an older villain Captain Square, a magistrate moustached Captain who had to poke his nose into the platoon. There were other minor characters such as the Vicar (Reverend Timothy Farthing) and the Verger (Maurice Yeatman).
The programme was set in the fictional seaside town of Walmington-On-Sea. It is impossible to say which county Walmington was in, but it was near another town called Eastgate. It is also mentioned as being near Hastings.
In addition to the TV series, many 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.
Snoad and Knowles planned a post-war follow up to the radio series, entitled It Sticks Out Half a Mile, which 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.
Note that some of these have been lost because of wiping. If you have or know anyone who has a copy of the lost episodes, contact the BBC immediately.