Dad's Army - In The Press

"Tonight you may call me George." How often does Wilson receive such an invitation from his commanding officer? The captain throws open the doors of Mainwaring manor for a "civilian" shindig, and the prospect of actually seeing his spouse - she of bunkbed-bulging proportions and ear-splitting telephone manner - tantalises us like never before...

Less of a party and more of a wake, the bash is put out of its misery by an air raid - and a direct hit on the bank. So what to do with the money? It's an interesting, curiously mean-spirited outing, full of muttered put-downs and surly suspicion. Also some 18-carat lines, and a beautifully filmed finale.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 20th September 2014

"A total of 80 episodes of Dad's Army were made by the corporation - and which one does it choose to show on the Saturday ahead of the vote?" a Yes campaigner [for Scottish Independence] wails. "The one in which Frazer - played by John Laurie - tells Mainwaring that he can run the platoon better than him, is put in charge and then makes a total mess of things. Thank you very much, Auntie Beeb."

Written by Tim Walker. The Telegraph, 16th September 2014

A schism in the platoon makes for a slightly uncomfortable watch in this 1972 story. Well, as uncomfortable as this bear hug of a sitcom gets. But the heightened drama - introduced by Mainwaring temporarily allowing Frazer to try to improve on his captaincy - gives If the Cap Fits some teeth.

Mainwaring initially regrets giving the grumbling Scot free rein, especially when he promotes Pike and Walker over Jones and Wilson. But the twist in the tale, however unlikely, is to die for. Wilson's monocle-wearing theatrics and the least educational lecture you'll ever hear add to the fun.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 13th September 2014

An all-action extravaganza features Jones on a child's scooter, a grenade exploding in the Vicar's office and Mainwaring trying on a smart, 18-guinea greatcoat that you just know is as doomed as Frazer's catchphrase. (Look out for Larry Martyn -- the caretaker in Are You Being Served? -- as the signalman scoffing buns.)

When a misread map reference sends the platoon to a barn destined for artillery target practice, it's left to two senior members to try and save the day, via manic motoring and an insane bit of stop-motion animation. Before the Dick Barton finale, the squinting, gout-afflicted Godfrey explains his dislike of spectacles: "I didn't get on with them; they made me look rather old."

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 6th September 2014

There are two distinct camps of thought in this famous 1972 episode. As bombs rain down outside their bunker, Mainwaring and Jones rather impractically want to get to grips with the enemy; Frazer and cynics anonymous are quite content to stay safe. But when there's a direct hit on the pumping station where Walker and Godfrey are patrolling, direct action is needed.

There's plenty of jeopardy from falling masonry and possible drowning, plus an ingenious set and water tank all in one - in fact, you can see the edge of the tank, accidentally, when Hodges falls out of his one-man boat. And whatever else you might think of him, don't ever question Mainwaring's heroism; one moving little aside is proof of that...

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 9th August 2014

This nigh-on perfect episode is The Arthur Lowe Show in all but name. A training weekend for the platoon enables Lowe to run through his sublime Mainwarisms: the "throat-clutching choke", the £skewed cap and glasses£, and the rare but wonderful £trying desperately not to appear drunk£. (Almost as funny is Sergeant Wilson's teddy-bear hiding - an Embarrassment Masterclass from John Le Mesurier.)

It all comes about as a result of Captain "What! What!" Square and a bunch of whisky-swilling officers leading Mainwaring astray, to the scowling disenchantment of Frazer and co. And it takes a genuine crisis to restore him in the eyes of his men...

'Fallen Idol' is delicious to the last drop, when an "Iris Out" homage to the silent era provides the show's best-ever sign-off.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 2nd August 2014

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

The Mirror, 19th July 2014

Self-important Mainwaring and bull-in-a-china-shop Hodges have never shied away from airing their differences. But in this episode the boundary lines are drawn - in chalk. A bombed ARP HQ forces the wardens and Home Guard to share the village hall - the expected jostlings ensue.

It's a resolutely low-fi outing - the painted backdrop to the Verger's hedge-clipping scenes are as amateur- hour as some of the slapstick - but, as ever, there's great fun to be had. Clive Dunn looks like he's trying not to laugh at making a chicken noise from a tin and some string (well, who wouldn't?), there's a stunt that will be familiar to Porridge fans, and Frazer gets almost too carried away with one of his shaggy dog stories.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 12th July 2014

Dad's Army's ironising approach to national identity made me fall for Britain in a way that only Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony has done since.

Written by Stuart Jeffries. The Guardian, 13th May 2014

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

Older Press Clippings