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Dad's Army. Image shows from L to R: Private Pike (Ian Lavender), Private Frazer (John Laurie), Chief A.R.P. Warden Hodges (Bill Pertwee), Private Godfrey (Arnold Ridley), Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe), Private Walker (James Beck). Image credit: British Broadcasting Corporation.

Dad's Army

Beloved sitcom about the struggles of a Home Guard platoon during World War II who are fighting incompetence, age and pomposity more than Nazis

Strand:
Dad's Army
Genre:
Sitcom
Broadcast:
1968 - 1977  (BBC One)
Episodes:
80 (9 series)
Starring:
Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, James Beck, Arnold Ridley, Ian Lavender, Bill Pertwee, Janet Davies, Frank Williams, Edward Sinclair
Writers:
Jimmy Perry, David Croft
Production:
British Broadcasting Corporation

14th May, 1940: With the threat of invasion from Nazi Germany a horrifying reality, a new branch of the military was created out of the men not yet in the regular army. This force, first known as the Local Defence Volunteers, would soon become known as the Home Guard - but due to the vast number of elderly volunteers it also earned the nickname of "Dad's Army".

In Walmington-on-Sea, a town on the south coast of England, the Home Guard platoon is lead by Captain George Mainwaring, the pompous local branch manager of Swallow Bank. Alongside Mainwaring are his public school educated second-in-command and the bank's chief clerk Sergeant Arthur Wilson, and local butcher, old war horse and third-in-command Lance Corporal Jack Jones.

The main body of the platoon is comprised of a number of regular privates. The most notable of these are mummy's boy and bank clerk Frank Pike, pessimistic Scottish undertaker James Frazer, black market spiv Joe Walker and elderly medical orderly Charles Godfrey.

As if the Germans and constant threat of invasion weren't bad enough, the platoon have their own local problems, not least from common greengrocer and despised chief ARP Warden Hodges; Pike's interfering mother (who has a "relationship" with Wilson); the vicar and verger who run the church hall where the platoon parade; and Mainwaring's terrifying but never-seen wife Elizabeth.

Despite all that age, war, and their own pomposity, infighting and incompetence throws at them, these fine boys make up England's last line of defence against Nazi attack. God save them - and God help us!

Our Review: What can be said about this remarkable programme that has not been said already? Not a lot. Dad's Army is British comedy at its best.

Although the series is now over 40 years old, it still attracts new fans each and every year with its simple but lovingly-crafted, family-friendly humour and familiar period setting. While most comedy shows date, Dad's Army was produced some 30-odd years after its setting, meaning the most datable aspects of comedy - fashion, cultural references and social attitudes - were already irrelevant and unidentifiable to viewers, and so not included. Croft and Perry's top-class scripts draw their comedy from broad, evergreen issues of human personality conflict and triumph, set against an important historical background that is familiar to each Briton from a young age.

Indeed, the series is further enhanced by its basis on real events, the writers drawing on their own experiences: Jimmy Perry based Pike upon himself, having been a member of the Home Guard during World War II, whilst David Croft was an ARP man. The cast cement the high quality scripts with impeccable, career-defining performances. Arthur Lowe in particular receives deserved continued praise for his role as Captain Mainwaring, and his on-screen chemistry with John Le Mesurier's Sergeant Wilson is a testament to the fine comedic talents of the pair.

Dad's Army is still loved to this day. A major 2004 nationwide poll to find the greatest British sitcoms of all time ranked the show at number 4, and Saturday afternoon repeats on BBC Two continue to attract audiences of around 2 million - a figure most new contemporary sitcoms can but dream of.