Dad's Army - In The Press

As the film version of Dad's Army is released at cinemas across the country, BBC News looks at the life of Arnold Ridley, the only actor in the original television series to serve in both World War One and Two.

BBC News, 5th February 2016

News footage of the original cast of Dad's Army being interviewed has been unearthed.

BBC News, 5th February 2016

A 91-year-old World War II veteran has called both the Dad's Army TV series and films a "total injustice" to the almost 1.5 million men who served in the UK's real-life Home Guard.

Written by Sarah Doran. The Radio Times, 3rd February 2016

In his 1974 book The Real Dad's Army, the historian Norman Longmate used the memories of ordinary people to document the impact of extraordinary events.

Written by Norman Longmate. The Guardian, 2nd February 2016

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 February 2016

Documents have revealed the heroics of the 'real-life Dad's Army' in stark contrast to the television comedy's hapless soldiers.

Written by Joseph Curtis. Daily Mail, 1st February 2016

It has an antiquated look and Arthur Lowe may occasionally fluff his lines, but the historical setting of Dad's Army has helped it endure, and rank as some of the finest British farce.

Written by Mark Lawson. The Guardian, 29th January 2016

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, The Radio Times, 26th January 2016

While conscientious objector Pte Godfrey could not hurt a fly, Arnold Ridley endured horrific hand to hand combat in the trenches at the Somme in 1916.

Written by Warren Manger. The Radio Times, 25th January 2016

If you've ever wondered why there's such percolating ill feeling between Mainwaring and Wilson, it's all here in an eye-opening first act. The captain turns puce and looks set to explode ("Judas!") when he learns that his supercilious subordinate is going up in the world, as both bank manager and second lieutenant in neighbouring Eastgate. All the petty jealousy and class resentment come pouring out, and Mainwaring's knee-jerk response is an office/platoon reshuffle.

It's brilliantly acted, but if that sounds a bit intense and uncomfortable, don't worry. There's some fruity role-playing as members of the platoon get ideas above their station and a sizeable innuendo from the Vicar. But the episode is owned by Wilson, and John Le Mesurier. You'll find it hard to swallow after the very last scene.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 19th January 2016

A popular 1970 episode. The captain's doughty dependables rally round when the ARP wardens challenge the platoon to a game of cricket. Jones offers to keep wicket, Walker the spiv provides reconditioned balls and even Frazer will have a go "if someone will explain the principle of the thing".

There's plenty of cheating (demon bowler Fred Trueman plays a ringer), some epic excuse-making from a shown-up Mainwaring, and a rousing last-ditch effort from an unlikely source. A greater role than usual, too, for the late Bill Pertwee, who selflessly played chief hate-figure Hodges for nine years.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 12th January 2016

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, The Radio Times, 30th November 2015

This untypical episode about guarding prisoners of war suffers from limp gags and too much stereotyping. A little urgency is instilled with the suggestion that Walker may be a fifth columnist, and it does feature Mainwaring stuck down a hole "like Winnie the Pooh".

Listen out for Godfrey delivering the unimaginable line "Your tiny hand is frozen" to an Italian soldier, and some epic sentence-mangling from Jones, who puts his bayonet to good use for a change. John Ringham (who became familiar as Penny's dad in Just Good Friends) returns for the last time as Captain Bailey.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 24th November 2015

The hugely popular TV series is being transformed into a film but the stories of those who inspired it are even more amazing.

Written by Boudicaa Fox-Leonard. The Sunday Mirror, 15th November 2015

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, The Radio Times, 10th November 2015

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, The Radio Times, 4th November 2015

The first episode of the 1970s is a jovial knockabout in which the platoon prepares for a parade of all civil defence units. In one of those lovely, evocative scenes in the local cinema, a Gaumont newsreel gives Mainwaring the idea for a regimental mascot. And Pike is piqued by having to leave early ("I haven't seen the Donald Duck yet").

Some ram-chasing antics enable the cast to give little thumbnail sketches of their characters: timid Godfrey, furtive Frazer and mellow Wilson lying back in the buttercups.

There's a nice variation on Jones's catchphrase ("Permission to stop panicking, sir") and some enthusiastic gurning from Bill Pertwee as Hodges. At one point the warden is so thoroughly upstaged that even Mainwaring is forced to laugh, and the Home Guard/ARP rivalry reaches a ludicrously funny conclusion.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 27th October 2015

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!

These were nascent years for the sitcom. It's endearingly low-rent - all the action of an air raid is conveyed by sound effects - and packed with interest: Jones swears at one point and Godfrey rather lets the side down.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 30th May 2015

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.

It's also a noteworthy episode for Jones, who cries, faints and makes a surprising confession. The usual sloppy drill and ineffectual training are geed up by some amusing horseplay (look out for the film being reversed). And it's helpful for the purpose of one punchline to know that Odol was a toothpaste!

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 23rd May 2015

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.

A quaint feature of these early outings, a Pathé-style catch-up with the platoon, gives us plenty of knockabout silliness. A temperamental Chinese rocket gun and a recalcitrant horse add to the fun.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 16th May 2015

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

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