Dad's Army - In The Press
The last surviving platoon member of Dad's Army says the BBC would not make the classic comedy today because the corporation ignores older viewers in favour of the young.
Written by Stephen McGinty and Jason Allardyce. The Sunday Times, 2nd August 2015
Stephen Lowe reveals his father's battle with narcolepsy and why the wife of the Dad's Army actor missed his funeral.
Written by Richard Webber. The Daily Telegraph, 18th July 2015
The Dad's Army actor Ian Lavender who played Private Pike in the hit TV series, has been recognised on Birmingham's Walk of Stars. Birmingham-born Mr Lavender said he was "very proud" of hi home city when he received the honour. He joins the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and ELO's Jeff Lynne, who have also been honoured on the Broad Street trail. As Private Pike, he famously wore an Aston Villa scarf. The actor said when he attended his first game at Villa Park last year, he took the scarf with him.
BBC News, 22nd June 2015
Few sitcoms have aged as well as Dad's Army.
Written by Chris Hallam. Chris Hallam's World View, 8th June 2015
Walmington-on-Sea's Home Guard wasn't in the habit of grappling with the enemy - barrage balloons and ARP wardens, yes, but not the Nazis. People only remember Philip Madoc's surly U-boat captain in The Deadly Attachment. There were other occasions, however, and tonight's was the first. There are even subtitles, the dialogue for which was written by actor Nigel Rideout (here playing a German) - reportedly for an extra £10 in his pay packet!
Captain Mainwaring is clearly enjoying being in charge of his Local Defence Volunteers, but pressure is mounting on him at their lack of weapons. Then Colonel Square (Geoffrey Lumsden) pays a first visit, offering rifles on the condition that he takes over command. It's a well-scripted dilemma introducing a nice note of drama, and leads to an untypically emotional outcome.
The appropriately titled Museum Piece, from August 1968, sees Walmington-on-Sea LDV - still without uniform or any sense of cohesion - trying to take arms against the sea of troubles. Typically, however, the volunteers are outwitted by an 88-year-old man (the father of Lance Corporal Jones, no less!). What's needed is a dash of cunning, not to mention a few slugs from a bottle of whisky - and that's just by Private Frazer.
He is the man whose face probably first comes to mind if one is asked to think of a fictional television vicar. Actor Frank Williams first put on his dog collar to play the part of the Reverend Timothy Farthing in Dad's Army 46 years ago. Now 83, he's still going strong, appearing in the new film of Dad's Army, released early next year and starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. He is touring the UK in a show in which he recalls his long career. Along with Ian Lavender, who played Private Pike, Frank is the only surviving regular cast member from the original series.
Written by Neil Clark. The Daily Express, 5th May 2015
Dad's Army attracted an audience of nearly 20 million in its heyday but the Telegraph's 1968 review of the much-loved sitcom's first-ever episode was only lukewarm. This review was published on August 1, 1968. It was written by the-then Telegraph TV critic Sean Day-Lewis, half-brother of Oscar-winner Daniel.
Written by Sean Day-Lewis. The Daily Telegraph, 2nd May 2015
A chance to discover how it all began, as BBC Two repeats the show's black-and-white curtain raiser. If you've never seen it before, check out the amazing prologue - the only time Dad's Army was set in the present day (1968).
It's funny to think that what was unpopular back in 1977, when this episode was first broadcast, remains unpopular today. When Private Frazer rounds on Mainwaring with the words "I don't trust banks, I don't trust bankers and I don't trust you!" he gets a warm round of applause from the studio audience. You see, the captain has been dropping unsubtle hints when he learns that the wily Scot keeps his savings in the form of a stash of gold sovereigns.
"He's used to being unpopular... he's a bank manager." A nice gag; funny then, topical now. It opens this 1977 episode, a surprising little rite-of-passage tale in which a proud-as-punch Mainwaring gets a staff car, and Pike borrows it for his date with Hodges' flirty niece Sylvia.
Some Home Guard admin elicits the expected peevishness from Mainwaring in this late-era episode. The Captain reveals his written character assessment of his sergeant to the man himself: "Your general bearing is very slack." Wilson's disparaging laughter at all the red-tape nonsense sounds so genuine that you wonder whether something tickled John Le Mesurier during recording.
The show goes a bit Swallows and Amazons this week (Arthur Lowe meets Arthur Ransome, if you will) in a largely lake-based adventure. The platoon's fieldcraft training is capsized by the arrival of the Vicar, Verger and Hodges with the sea scouts and, later, three Germans who have bailed out of their aircraft and float helplessly in a dinghy.
This episode's mini-drama serves as a neat mission statement for the show, when the tussle over Godrey's home becomes a metaphor for the struggle against Germany. "This cottage stands for England," says the loyal, smiley private, as his comrades dither over telling him his house will have to be demolished to make way for a new aerodrome.
It's teatime in the Pike household, and young Frank joins mum and Sergeant Wilson after a day-long medical. Despite his croup, wonky ankles and a touch of "verdigris" if he stands on anything, "They passed me fit. I'm A1!"
Warmhearted actor who played the amorous Mrs Fox in Dad's Army.
The Guardian, 16th February 2015
Die-hards always look forward to certain things in a Dad's Army episode: for example, one of Jones's windy speeches. This one results in one of Mainwaring's most despairing puffs of the cheeks.
You'd think the squad would welcome the chance to get out of their battledress, but donning morris-dancing outfits to raise money for a new Spitfire is another matter. Frazer moans like a drain about this "pansy Sassenach get-up", Wilson finds his dummy horse most awkward and Jones, too, is in a spot of trouble - and not just with his whiffling.
"Over the years that I've come to know the members of this platoon, I've grown quite fond of them, but I can't help feeling sometimes that I'm in charge of a bunch of idiots." It's not often that Captain Mainwaring is quite so scathing about his platoon, but he's prompted by a classic piece of long-windedness from leering loon Private Frazer. It's a towering moment in the midst of some lightweight field-exercise shenanigans, but you'll enjoy the effete expression from Wilson tanning his face while his captain blethers on, and another brief but heavenly example of under-the-influence acting from Arthur Lowe.
The sight of the Vicar and Verger in battledress is just one of many rarities in this extraordinary affair. Among the others are Mainwaring laid up in a hospital bed (with ingrowing toenails), Frazer brandishing a live white mouse on parade and Godfrey having a big speech to remember. Also, poignantly, a note on the floor where James Beck should be standing. This was the first story not to feature Walker; thereafter, bizarrely, he was never mentioned again.
Anyone who enjoys the class collisions of Mainwaring and Wilson will be in heaven with this episode. In "The Honourable Man", Wilson becomes entitled following the death of his uncle. The news induces pride in Pike and his beaming mother, but brings out an assortment of colours in the Captain, including red for apoplexy and green for jealousy.
Original Dad's Army star Ian Lavender is making a cameo appearance in the new film.
Written by Ellie Walker-Arnott. The Radio Times, 22nd November 2014
If you're wondering why almost none of this episode was recorded on video - even the interior scenes - a studio strike in 1973 meant it had to be shot on location with 16mm film. It's a needs-must approach that's appropriate to both the series and the episode. Because when the Home Guard takes an efficiency test, they need all their wits (ahem!) to overcome the bullying supervisor (Fulton Mackay in the same year he'd made his Porridge debut).
Dad's Army goes a bit Mack Sennett in this episode when a sealed-order mission turns into a frantic choo-choo chase. King George VI is due to pass through the station, but a mix-up between sleeping pills and saccharine puts a spanner - or a defective brake wheel - in the works.