Dad's Army - In The Press

BBC sensitivity was such that for years we were deprived of this triumphant episode. It was off our screens for 42 years until 2012, its IRA subplot deemed too controversial. But the Irish question is very much an aside to an instalment so packed with gags, misunderstandings and drama that it fairly takes the breath away.

Contrasting phone manner offers a lot of initial fun: Wilson's hilariously fey "Hullo?"; a submissive Mainwaring deafened by his wife's receiver slamming. Soon the platoon teeters on the brink of mutiny (over a pub darts match, but there is real acrimony), Jones comes to regret his under-the-counter offer to the captain and Hodges muscles in on Mavis Pike. Is Wilson too much the gentleman to intervene?

You'll laugh, you'll be tense, you'll worry about 74-year-old Arnold Ridley getting roughed up by a burly henchman.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 29th March 2014

Did you watch Dad's Army and if so how much can you remember from the timeless classic...

Written by Danny Walker. The Mirror, 23rd March 2014

This episode, about guarding PoWs, isn't top-drawer Dad's but does feature Mainwaring stuck down a hole "like Winnie the Pooh", Godfrey delivering the unimaginable line "Your tiny hand is frozen" to an Italian soldier, and more heroic sentence-mangling from Jones. Plus another of those typically sunny location shoots. As Jimmy Perry recently recalled for Radio Times, "Usually the weather was very good. We called it David Croft Weather."

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 22nd March 2014

The sitcom writer talks about his life in showbiz, his Dad's Army heroes and the one that got away...

Written by Mark Braxton. The Radio Times, 22nd March 2014

This lesser entry to the Army canon, about toughening up the platoon's feet, is a curious beast. The podiatric pranks are a little hit-and-miss, but there's much for fans to savour. For instance, after all the chip-on-his-shoulder speeches to Wilson about privilege, Mainwaring gives him a surprisingly generous - and accurate - character analysis.

So if all the shoe-shop tomfoolery fails to hit the spot, just enjoy Pike at his mollycoddled worst, a guest turn from the wonderful Erik (Mr Smith in Please Sir!) Chitty and an epic fail at the seaside for Mainwaring.

And those who pooh-pooh the idea that Pike is Wilson's son will be dumbfounded by one scene that all but shouts out the connection.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 8th March 2014

Walmington's spats with the rival platoon in Eastgate are always great, pratfalling fun, and a training exercise in which Mainwaring's marauders have to plant a bomb in a windmill is certainly played full tilt. But we open in the pub, where that tedious old walrus Captain Square - all beer and bluster - is holding court. And, in his first appearance in Dad's Army, Robert Raglan (as a sergeant, but he'll later become "the Colonel") throws a priceless glance at the barman as Square bores for Britain.

Arthur Lowe trumps that look with one that was to become a trademark (glasses removed, cheeks puffed out with exasperation), after Frazer gives a typically windy speech.

It's the story where Jones branches out, Frazer has an overinflated opinion of himself, sheep wear helmets and the Verger finds a novel use for a cemetery urn. Utterly, beautifully bonkers.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 1st March 2014

Captain Mainwaring is like a pig in mud when the platoon takes delivery of a 13-pounder QF mark V (a big gun). This being a naval weapon, the men look to Private Frazer for operational tips. But it turns out the self-aggrandising Scot was only ever a cook, though he insists: "When the shells are flying it takes a man to stay below and make shepherd's pie."

One failed firing-rehearsal later, the squad crowd into the office to plan strategy with a model of Walmington, using tins of Spam and toy soldiers ("Don't lean on the gasworks, boy!").

It's actually an unusually sloppy episode, which would have benefited from some better line-learning or a few retakes. But it's still an endearing snapshot of Little England dithering in a crisis.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 9th November 2013

It's rare that Mainwaring is so shocked he loses the power of both speech and motion, but that's what happens in Room at the Bottom. It's the one where he loses his commission - twice. Wilson, of course, relishes delivering the news to him, and practises in front of a mirror.

Writers Perry and Croft are on top form here. A letter-writing sequence allows us to hear what the men are thinking - and it's all beautifully in character. But this is Arthur Lowe's episode through and through; after some initial embarrassment, Mainwaring's nobler qualities come to the fore. One speech even draws an emotional nose-blow from Godfrey. Fantastic pay-off, too.

Incidentally, we rarely learn in Dad's Army what point the war has reached, but one announcement by the Verger anchors the action precisely.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 2nd November 2013

The assault-course scrapes and don't-like-it-up-'ems were all very well, but there was nothing like a bit of life-or-death to vary the pace and bring out the best in the cast. When an air raid leaves Mainwaring and Wilson cradling an unexploded bomb in the bank vault, the rest of the platoon run about like headless chickens. Walmington's well-oiled machine soon cranks up a gear, however: Frazer's fishing skills come to the fore, Pike keeps away the riff-raff; Godfrey rustles up some coffee.

Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier sell their sweaty predicament like the seasoned pros they were, and the former's "Oh come on, Wilson, cheer up" brings quite a lump to the throat.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 26th October 2013

The contrast between line-toeing optimist Mainwaring and corner-cutting realist Wilson is neatly scripted at the top of this 1969 episode. Needless to say, when the platoon uses up all its ammo on a low-flying German plane, their approaches to the problem are very different.

The resultant court of inquiry (Mainwaring wins) is, of course, a shambles, disrupted by elderly visitors to the hall and choir practice in the office. There are some ripping one-liners, and it's the first surviving story to credit Edward Sinclair as the Verger, whose gurning indignation was to become his stock-in-trade. Jones soon puts him in his place with, "Why do you take the collection home to count it?"

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 12th October 2013

"Godfrey, would you take your arm from my throat?" is the unlikely request from Captain Mainwaring in tonight's slice of superannuated square-bashing. Not quite the deadly scenario it sounds, however. In fact, it's the consequence of a lesson in public telephone usage. In a packed episode, boasting an abnormally large guest cast, the men get to put their newly acquired skills to the test when a German plane crashes in the reservoir.

Passing over the creaky studio-as-outdoors antics, there's a lovely bit of nonsense with a camouflage class, an artfully conceived central misunderstanding, the rare sound of Mainwaring swearing and Wilson's unexpected hijacking of Jones's catchphrase.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 5th October 2013

Some cute rarities in tonight's old boys' parade, among them a train trip, the sight of Frazer knitting and the self-referential gag of the platoon whistling the show's theme tune. But to begin with, spirits plummet after Mainwaring's map-reading deficiencies cause the men to miss supper at a weekend camp. A surly Spanish captain (Alan Tilvern) who's determined to catch them out just compounds the misery.

Footage from the ensuing field exercise (filmed at an actual Second World War training area in Thetford, Norfolk) will be familiar from the series' end credits, and the episode's broad-as-a-barn comedy is carried off with such aplomb you can't help but smile.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 28th September 2013

A justly lauded 1969 episode, full of well worked gags and delicious confusion. For many years it was missing presumed lost, but returned to the archives in 2001. It follows the platoon's separation when church bells signal an invasion, but what's fun is seeing Godfrey's oft-mentioned sisters Dolly and Cissy, and hearing Wilson deny he's Pike's father (the writers always insisted he was).

The despised Hodges elicits the usual groans, there's a vintage Mainwaring pratfall, and the elderly sisters try to carry on with their tea while gunshots fly all around their cottage. The song "There'll Always Be an England" sums it all up beautifully.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 7th September 2013

James Beck, aka Dad's Army's Private Walker, died 40 years ago today.

Written by Neil Clark. The Telegraph, 7th August 2013

Prepare for a blast of monochrome nostalgia with the first ever episode, The Man and the Hour. It opens in the "present day" (1968) as the aged members of Walmington on Sea's defunct Home Guard gather to support the economy-boosting I'm Backing Britain campaign.

Then the years roll away and we are at the town's bank at the start of the war with pompous manager Mr Wainwaring (Arthur Lowe) preparing for the Nazi onslaught: "They'll be as dead as mutton from Stead and Simpson's to Timothy White's". He's galvanised by Antony Eden's radio appeal for Local Defence Volunteers, and urges Pike to put the word out that there will be a meeting in the church hall. And so it begins...

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 27th July 2013

To support Walmington-on-Sea's Wings for Victory week, Captain Mainwaring has decided the Home Guard are going to restage the battle of St George and the Dragon as a grand finale. He's not letting on his plan to the rest of the parish council, though, which is unfortunate as the wardens are doing something similar.

Naturally Mainwaring is playing the part of St George, borrowing a heavy suit of armour that leads to some wonderfully daft moments as he tries to mount his horse while the dragon, despite being emblazoned with swastikas, is a hilarious pantomime creature that looks more like a drunken centipede than a ferocious beast.

Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 15th June 2013

Bill Pertwee, who died recently, always cited Dad's Army as his best work. He knew it would endure, he said. And how it has. Always voted in the top two or three of the nation's favourite shows, endlessly repeated, a DVD best-seller.

Written by James Ruddick. The Huffington Post, 28th May 2013

Even Dad's Army had off days. This 1977 episode, "Wake Up, Walmington" has its fair share of duff character notes (Mainwaring calling his nemesis Mister Hodges; the ARP warden himself bursting into tears after being ridiculed). It also contains comedy broader than Norfolk, as the platoon dress as fifth-columnists to wake up the town from its apathy.

But, this being the final season, the cast were all household names and much loved, hence the applause for a mere costume change. It's notable not only for Hodges getting a pasting, but also for Mainwaring taking insufferable old walrus Captain Square down a peg or two. And if you ever wondered where Walmington is, one character at a pub a few miles out of town describes Dover as being 20 miles away!

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 25th May 2013

Dad's Army scriptwriter Jimmy Perry salutes Arthur Lowe, Captain Mainwaring of the Home Guard, who has died aged 66. This article was originally published on 16 April 1982.

Written by Jimmy Perry. The Guardian, 16th April 2013

Mainwaring has allowed Welsh journalist Mr Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas) to join the Home Guard in order to help him write an article entitled Captain Mainwaring: Man of Action. "There's no question mark," Mainwaring quickly points out to his troops. And when Pike gets his head stuck in the park railings and a bomb explodes near Walmington, the captain's forced to live up to the headline.

The character of Cheeseman, who was brought in to fill the gap created when James Beck (Private Walker) died, was described as "irritating without being funny" by writer David Croft. However, the "bath permit" scene between Jones and Mr Bluett is one to savour.

Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 2nd March 2013

Some say the same joke isn't funny the 100th time. I beg to differ. Exhibit A: Mainwaring's skewed cap and glasses. But I'm not the only one who thinks so. Despite being 40 years old Dad's Army is still doing solid business for BBC2 - nudging 2 million viewers most weeks. And all that's great about it shines out of this episode, which is the ideal mix of pranks and prattle.

The catchphrases come tumbling (even the lesser-known but still sublime "I was wondering who'd be the first to spot that"), there's all sorts of automotive hi-jinks, a scandal involving the Verger and a lovely micro-moment when Mainwaring realises the rheumatic Godfrey is just trying to do his best.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 24th February 2013

Michael Gove may have been compared to Young Master Grace, but there's another 70s sitcom that resembles the current government more closely.

Written by John Crace. The Guardian, 17th January 2013

The infamous clock tower caper demonstrates the series' flair for both subtle character comedy and broad-as-a-barn-door physical high jinks. Mainwaring has his tea and (rationed) biscuits interrupted when a German parachutist gets tangled at the top of the Town Hall - an obvious but ingenious set.

The late Clive Dunn takes centre stage as courageous old boy Lance Corporal Jones, and there are some sublimely niggly exchanges between the fey, flippant Wilson and his exasperated captain, whose puffing of the cheeks and "Try and take an interest" will never cease to be funny.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 8th December 2012

Plans to make the legendary TV comedy into a new film are doomed to disappoint. The show was the perfect blend of great acting and writing.

Written by Harry Mount. The Daily Telegraph, 14th November 2012

Clive Dunn, who died last week, was just one of the reasons Dad's Army is still as loved today as ever.

Written by Brian Viner. The Sunday Telegraph, 11th November 2012

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